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Nikhil Taneja @tanejamainhoon
, 20 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Unpopular opinion up ahead: Been reading much about the #SuhanaKhan Vogue cover and seeing the vitriolic that's been directed at her, I wanted to offer some contextual understanding of the hows and whys of such a cover (and why Suhana doesn't deserve hate). *Please* bear with me:
I'll begin by saying I understand the outrage: There's a person who has no achievement, per se, who's made it to a magazine cover primarily because she's the daughter of a celebrity. There are many more who 'deserve' to be on a cover. There are so many things to unpack here:
1. Suhana Khan's privilege: Yes, she's privileged to be on a cover. She's privileged to be born to SRK. The privileges she's afforded as being a star kid also comes with intense scrutiny by the public. She's had private pictures leaked & is hounded by paparazzi wherever she goes.
Did she choose to be born to a world in which her bikini picture at 15/16 is 'gossip'? No. She's never lived a 'normal' life. The fact is that there's public interest in her (or any kid born to a celebrity, eg. Taimur) for no fault of hers and the media *caters* to this interest.
Of course she should be made aware of her privilege(and that should be done by her parents, really), but is it fair that there's no outrage to defend her rights as an underage teen, when her private pictures are leaked, but there's outrage now? What does she take away from this?
2. The Vogue Cover: First of all, it's Vogue. It's a high end fashion and lifestyle magazine that caters to a well-to-do section of the audiences. They are supplying to a demand and the demand *is* Taimur or Suhana or Jahnvi (pictures of all are on page 3 since they were born).
Plus, Vogue's business model depends on having a recognisable name on the cover to be able to sell issues. When you exhaust these names, who do you put for people to WANT to pay Rs 150 in the age of digital where content is free? Someone in public scrutiny since childhood, maybe?
Also, how many people will buy a glamour magazine if it has a lesser known indie star/upcoming model? I worked in journalism at the beginning of my career as an entertainment reporter - I promise you that copies ACTUALLY sell with a known name vs an unknown one. It's capitalism.
3. Our definition of 'achievement': Why are we still obsessed with the superficial idea that you have not achieved anything until you are on the cover of a magazine or on TV or in the media or until someone's writing about you? Is a Vogue magazine cover something to aspire to?
These superficial standards we've kept for success/achievement have created a culture where so many young people are going through mental health issues, in a bid to reach society-defined goals that have less to do with happiness/contentment & more to do with people knowing you.
A lifestyle magazine for the rich is going to have on its cover things that interest its target audience. It has nothing to do with 'deserving'. It's supply and demand. Why are we allowing ourselves to think of it as goals to aspire to instead of aspiring to something meaningful?
4.Our outrage: We are targeting an 18-year-old girl with hateful comments, calling her names, because 'we' feel that she's been afforded a privilege we don't get? Should everyone who doesn't get afforded the privilege we get by even having access to a computer send hate our way?
Why are we feeding into a society that resorts to toxic, hateful and vitriolic sentiment on knee-jerk vs. meaningful dialogue & conversation? Are we so desensitised that an 18-year-old is a fair target for hate? What has she done to go through the mental trauma? Been born to SRK?
5. But, what about...: So I wanted to help contextualise the cover, but that doesn't mean I want to shut down conversations about privilege and media obsession with the celebrity. So before you start 'What abouts', here's what we could do instead of being hateful to a young girl:
Let's create a demand for stories of ordinary folks doing extraordinary things. Instead of spending our time dabbling in hate and anger, let’s spend it instead by championing people who are making our world a better place: teachers, nurses, charitable folks, everyday heroes!
If we create a demand for reading stories about inspiring regular people doing extraordinary things, trust me, capitalism will offer inspiring regular people doing extraordinary things across all media. But for that, WE have to also reject celebrity and gossip culture at large.
Every time there's a celebrity kid whose privacy is invaded by paparazzi, let's outrage against the media for not letting these kids lead normal lives - & putting them in the eye of public scrutiny that will inevitably lead to SO MUCH PR that producers would want to launch them.
And honestly, let's find more meaningful aspirations than covers of lifestyle magazines. And let's tell young people about wanting to be good human beings first.. who don't dabble in hate online.. instead of creating a culture where mental health issues are the norm BOTH WAYS.
Finally - and I'm terribly sorry for this incredibly verbose thread - let's channel our anger through nuanced conversations than knee-jerk reactions. If we've got to talk of privilege, let's also recognise and address the privileges we have by birth, na. And let's be kinder? #Fin
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