Brig (Retd) GB Reddy
Almost all the visual media channels have gone berserk on the Tweets made by so-called international celebrities in their respective fields supporting the ongoing farmer’s protests in India. Their coverage is mostly despicable and disgusting vilifying India’s brand image.
By indulging in extensive and exhaustive coverage, media houses – mostly partisan – enjoying unabridged “Freedom of Press” facility, sly giving slant to news coverage, irresponsible, and totally unaccountable to the adverse fallout on national security interests, have gone overboard in presenting the international celebrities with barely any insights into Indian complexities as if they are the epitome of intellect, particularly about India.
Had Indian media houses prefaced their debates covering in detail the background of international celebrity status and their marketing skills to celebrity fame, the viewers would have been provided with the news to draw their conclusions.
Ipso facto, it’s quite common to read controversies over celebrity endorsers helping NGOs and other development organizations raise funds and promote their campaigns viewed also as a double-edged sword — for all sides.
Recently Oxfam caused an uproar among the aid community and sparked a debate over whether charities should continue to use celebrities in their campaigns if they run the risk of actresses, singers and sports stars prioritizing their paid endorsements — or even worse, undermining the cause they committed to support.
Let me highlight the status of international celebrities like Rihanna and Mia Khalifa. None can deny that their international celebrity status is mostly due to pop music and baring their bodies.
For example, Rihana pictures telecast in visual media clearly shows her as a model more than a pop star. She too has gained international celebrity status due to her pop music and fashion modelling – baring her body.
Miyа̄ Ḵalīfah, a Lebanese-American media personality, webcam model, was a former pornographic actress. She began acting in pornography in October 2014, becoming the most viewed performer on Pornhub in two months. Her career choice was met with controversy in the Middle East, especially for a video in which she performed sexual acts while wearing a hijab – a la a glorified prostitute.
Add to them, the fraud environmentalist – GRETA THUNBERG, barely 18-year old. Does she know that thousands suffer and quite a few deaths due to climate havoc caused due to “Stubble Burning” by farmers? Why is she silent on the above environmental issue?
In reality, all of them are available for a price for marketing issues.
Joining the three is Meena Harris, the US vice president’s niece, who also shared a tweet expressing solidarity with farmers “”We ALL should be outraged by India’s internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters”. Not to be left out is Priyanka Chopra, Lilly Singh and others.
Why are all of them silent on the desecration of Gandhi statues – acclaimed as a champion of non-violence and peace?
Furthermore, my rebuttal to all such international celebrities and their supporters and followers in the visual media and Indians is simple. Why are they silent on issues like Uighur camp detainees alleging systematic rape by Chinese occupiers in Xinjiang? Where were the celebrities over Hong Kong Protests that continues to go on since June 2019 – Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement – that resulted in over 10,016 protestors arrested as of 08 September 2020 and quite a few disappeared?
Furthermore, why are Celebrities silent over the issue of arrest and sentencing of Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition leader, to two years and eight months in a prison colony in a landmark decision for Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on the country’s leading opposition figure and the arrest of more than 1,000 protesters?
Add to them, the latest military coup in Myanmar that charged elected civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi!
In retrospect, there are many totalitarian nations in West Asia, Africa and Latin America besides Pakistan and Afghanistan in our neighbourhood where human rights violations are a daily occurrence. Yet, none of the international celebrities voices their concern and anguish at the plight of the peoples suffering.
Why the so-called international celebrities homing on and focus on India? Are they on the payroll of adversaries whose sole end objective is to disrupt, divide and disintegrate modern India?
Not only Indian visual media houses cacophony but also the BBC, CNN and other Western media houses who are blaring away exhaustive coverage of the so-called international celebrities expressing solidarity to farmer’s protests to defame India.
If the MEA spokesperson stated international celebrities to refrain from making such ill-informed and irresponsible statements, he is absolutely correct.
That brings me to the key national security concern – “Visual Media – Most Heinous National Security Threat faced by India.”
Never too late for the Indian visual media houses to appreciate that any slant in the coverage of debates and the accompanying cacophony by spokespersons contributes to spreading disinformation amongst the audience thereby sow the seeds of the social divide that is ultimately harmonious to the unity of the nation.
Never too late for the media to “Stop adding fuel engulfing never-ending Burning India fires”!