Sometime a mistake, a slip of tongue or a carelessly hurled joke may bring a disaster that remains irreversible no matter how carefully worded apologies are offered to address the issue. This is what happened to Yassir Hussain, an actor and anchor, when he, hosting a TV awards show, cracked a joke using child molestation crime as a prank assuming that it will amuse the audience.
What a curse he had already invited upon himself couldn’t become known to him until a terrible daybreak he had the next morning. A barrage of criticism and condemnation greeted him when he woke up. Realizing what a mistake he had committed, he quickly issued an apology to mend the damage that had already been done. One careless joke turned a popular actor into a controversial person. While the reaction to this shameful folly was a sign of a responsible media and civil society that wasted no time to reject a kind of indifference displayed to a heinous crime by the actor, it also raised a concerning question, is Yassir Hussain the only person from TV and film world to show such a disdainful act of apathy towards this evil?
What Yassir did was a reflection of our society, the way we treat miseries and misfortunes of others. Remember the most horrific lynching of Mashal Khan at AWKUM? Shock and grief touched almost every heart in the country leading most of them to express their feelings of disgust against the human-faced vultures who had committed this crime though one can hardly recall any condemnation coming from the showbiz community. The possible cause: a feeling of indifference or a sense of disconnect they have with the social issues.
Now recall the infamous comment made by Saif Ali Khan, a Bollywood actor, when his movie was banned in Pakistan. Out of frustration from the ban imposed on his movie, he said, “I have no faith on Pakistan.” This un-harmful statement proved to be good enough to raise the emotions of our Film and TV community. A wave of outrage emerged that brought along a hail of condemnation hitting Indian actor one after the other as if there was a race going on among our showbiz industry to make their extremely patriotic feelings known on the subject.
The kind of resentment exhibited by our Film and TV industry on this incident was nowhere to be seen when more than a hundred innocent children were ruthlessly butchered at the Army Public School by the terrorists. Only one liner twitter messages that often appeared to be a kind of formality they performed. No condemnation of the perpetrators by their names, no strong worded expressions against the abettors of such crimes to castigate the butchers of children ever hit the screen. Does this mean our showbiz personalities are least moved or affected by the gory incidents of violence that occurs every now and then in the country?
The response of showbiz personalities to social issues quite often appears to be more in line with society’s dominant approach rather than as a reflection of their own intellectual identity
One can hardly believe that the people, who by profession depict different conditions of human lives, will be ignorant of their miseries and sorrows. Their response to the social issues quite often appear to be more in line with the dominant approach of the society rather than carrying their own intellectual identity or any sign of personal intake from the life that exists around them. It’s like an influence of the subconscious intelligence of the society that often makes them act like a robot whose programming overrides all other faculties of their minds. What Yassir Hussain and other professionals from TV and Film world did was, in fact, a reflection of this social behavior of the society. The only lesson we learn from it is to take a critical look at our social values and determine what needs to be discarded or retained that can save us from such embarrassing experiences in the future. It wasn’t a fall of Yasser alone, the whole society had its contribution in it too.
The writer is a Senior Research Fellow, Center for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad