Actor Deepika Padukone caused viral frenzy as she gave a plucky and principled response to a video shared by the Times of India’s entertainment section on Twitter, tastelessly titled ‘OMG! Deepika Padukone’s cleavage show!’ Lashing out at the post, she tweeted, “Don’t talk about women empowerment when you don’t know how to respect women!”
The Times of India’s entertainment Twitter handle responded to the uproar, saying, “@deepikapadukone, it’s a compliment! You look so great that we want to make sure everyone knew!” Considering the rebuttal as insufficient, actor Nimrat Kaur tweeted, “Dear @TOIEntertain… with this ‘compliment’, I shudder to think who this ‘everyone’ is you’re reaching out to.”
Bollywood celebrities and fans took to Twitter to express their solidarity with Deepika, using the hashtag #IStandWithDeepikaPadukone. Shahrukh Khan, who will soon be seen opposite Deepika in the multi-starrer Happy New Year, lauded her for her gutsy stand, reported IANS.
“What she said was wonderful… we don’t have the guts to do what she has done, but we believe in it and we support it,” he said. Other members of the Happy New Year cast and crew including Farah Khan and Boman Irani also expressed displeasure over the post.
“We should respect individuality and the job we do. What she did was fantastic and it would be stupid of us to talk about that. We stand by her. All of us have to stand by her… but we should not trivialise it and make it a part of conversation,” added Shahrukh.
“I feel violated as a woman,” said Deepika. She shared that the publication had tweeted her photograph from the same event a year ago, reported the Deccan Chronicle. “I had let it go then, but why publish it again? For eyeballs?” she commented. “As actors, we go through a lot of scrutiny, criticism. I have the spine to absorb this kind of negativity.”
She said she was concerned that her post would scar her relations with the media. “I was frightened that it might backfire and the media will turn against me, but that was not the case. I was surprised and overwhelmed,” she said.
What the Twitterati has rebuked as “voyeurism,” “yellow journalism” and “sensationalism” has not only put the leading Indian newspaper in the cross hairs, but also sparked a debate on lapsing media ethics and the increasingly blur line between ‘respectful’ and ‘repulsive’ references to women.
Although social media has emerged as the harbinger of freedom of expression and catalysed mass social and political movements across the world, it poses a grave ethical dilemma. With growing transcendence of news and awareness in netizens, nothing goes unseen by the public eye. Media outlets must rethink and scrutinise what qualifies as news and what’s outright abuse.
Here are a few tweets from celebrities
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2014.