I live to see times when a comedy show that means no harm to any individual, religion, god or the society as a whole, is crucified. To quote Groucho Marx-““If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, I would be happy to do it for you.”
The most interesting agenda with the protest by a particular religious sect lashing out at the organizers and the participants is that they feel offended and believe that not just theirs but any religion is a grey area for humor.
An English dictionary describes religion as, “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith”, on a more practical aspect, religion or faith as we refer to it is something that aspires hope, a flame of light at the darkest hour of the night, something that keeps you going and gives you the strength to make it to the gates of hell and back. Therefore, being a sincere atheist, I have no beliefs in god, that is not me saying that religion or god is an over rated concept, but that’s me saying that as an atheist, I’m simply the loyal opposition.
Your religion may be based on the principles or teachings of ideal creators known as gods, whereas my religion is humor. When at a crossroads in my life, I can with all honesty state that humor is what kept me going, that particular group, their podcasts, their videos, that’s what kept me sane. Therefore, if you are offended by what they say or do, and you want any sort of action taken against them, that is simply you undermining my religion and stating that your religion is superior to mine. I agree that my words are clear witnesses to the fact that I am obsessed with their work, and because of that very same obsession I understand exactly how that particular religious sect feels. I have the very same feeling of hurt and offence taking over me as I see people who do not respect my ideals and my beliefs without being aware of the intentions.
And now, to the most important aspect of this protest, how political and religious groups have fired abruptly on this show for publicizing concepts of obscenity and vulgarity and for using abusive or offensive content to make hay while the sun shines. We live in a developing country which is bleeding constantly due to casteism, sexism, poverty, corruption, and crimes against women, unemployment, malnutrition, and illiteracy. Our country is not just a country with different religions or castes or creeds, but a blend of different mentalities, there are people who believe that they have the right to feel offended and there are people who when offended, do something about it through channelizing the offence in a positive manner, by talking about it, by writing about it, by singing about it or by joking about it.
I am not cynical about my country or my society but I feel a very important urge to speak out about things that have been left untouched by this controversy, to get offended whether in terms of sexism or casteism in a country like in India is ironical to begin with. Our society is dominated by two professional industries, the media/glamour industry and the political industry, first of all, talking about the media or the glamour industry that includes advertisements, television shows, movies and music, how come are we not offended when an advertisement is aired on national TV with a male using a deodorant and several different females clinging to him like bees on a hive, when patriarchal dominance is showcased in almost 70% of the television shows, when historical shows include scenes of royals visiting brothels, when reality shows use individuals from unfortunate backgrounds and exploit their life stories to score TRP brownies.
Why they are not offended when physical intimacy and out-right violence is celebrated on the silver screen, or when almost nude individuals (both male & female) dance around each other indicating sexual provocation.
Where are their baskets that catch offence when a rapper is given the throne and the scepter of the music industry by the means of sexist and senseless songs, when scripted award shows have the rich and the flamboyant flashing their glamour quotients and at some extent dishing out inferiority complexes to a normal individual?
Over to the latter, people inspiring authoritative influence- politicians, self proclaimed godmen, and the police department. In a study conducted, “It was noted that a staggering 24% of elected politicians were charged with criminal activities in the year 2004, this number grew to 30% in 2009, and 34% in 2014, with the number dominated by crimes against women.
The role of an elected representative is to voice the views of the people and not to criticize it, personal views have to be kept personal simply for the reason that every single individual has a different thought process, and everyone’s views are subject to respect. It may be my personal opinion and not that of anyone else’, but it is a shame to live in era where not a single day goes by without endless counts of crimes against women, and crimes committed by elected officials.
I can go on record and challenge anyone who attacks a comedy show in today’s social environment to ban all such shows the day we have the honor of not reading about a single crime against women in the morning newspaper. In the year 2013, Delhi Police recorded 62,130 complaints of criminal activities of all kinds, out of which 11,836 were against police personnel. A department whose sole responsibility is to stand guard for the safety and help of the public has gone down to be the biggest source of harassment to the public.
A common man who becomes the victim of any such crime thinks twice before entering a police station fearing harassment, and the question here is, should we be working proactively against humor rather than addressing these issues first.
Godmen and religious cults have been active in our country with millions of followers admiring and praising them, they have also been sources of heinous crimes such as rapes, molestations and money-laundering.
To sum up this argument, an obscenity is any statement or act that strongly offends the prevalent morality of the time, and the bottom line is, for how long will we ignore the issues that are corroding our developing society and understand that we have indeed entered a new era of liberal thinkers and that the morality of our time has been victimized by the traditions and culture of our past. And about the show that inspired me to write this piece, humor cannot be versatile and does not appeal to the sensibilities of every member of our society.
The issue is not about freedom of speech, but freedom of choice. We have heard that one man’s revolutionary is another man’s terrorist, one man’s treasure is another man’s junk, but I feel disheartened when I witness a society where one man’s humor is another man’s obscenity.