Culture & Lifestyle / Why The Priyanka ‘Hypocrite’ Story Just Won’t Go Away

Why The Priyanka ‘Hypocrite’ Story Just Won’t Go Away

Culture & Lifestyle Aug 16, 2019

 The shelf life of the Priyanka Chopra Jonas “Hypocrite” debacle may be beyond its expiration date. But judging by social media, it’s not going anywhere, anytime soon. 

We wanted to wait and see it all play out. Now it’s time to enter the discussion.

It was four (long) days ago that Pakistani-American and Alaskan native Ayesha Malik happened to come upon Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ fireside chat at the BeautyCon convention in Los Angeles. She didn’t plan for it, but she felt compelled to ask her a very important question.

 

Why The Priyanka 'Hypocrite' Story Just Won't Go Away
Why The Priyanka ‘Hypocrite’ Story Just Won’t Go Away: Priyanka Chopra Jonas at The BeautyCon event in L.A. Photo Credit: www.eonline.com

 

Malik’s concern peaked on February 26th when she read the Bollywood/Hollywood’s star tweet “Jai Hind” followed by “#IndianArmy” in reference to Indian fighter jets bombing militant training camp in Pakistan. It was another tense political situation between these two nuclear countries that dot their respective historical timelines since Partition.

 

Why The Priyanka 'Hypocrite' Story Just Won't Go Away
Why The Priyanka ‘Hypocrite’ Story Just Won’t Go Away: The tweet heard around the world. Photo Credit: www.twitter.com/priyankachopra

 

But this time it’s different. The recent revocation of Article 370 by Prime Minister Modi leaving Kashmir without their constitution, their flag and full autonomy dominated the headlines. Celebrities from India and Pakistan immediately started expressing their stance on social media while rhetoric from both sides of the Indo-Pak border started taking up more space in the newsfeed. Most recently, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, submitted a formal request with the United Nations Security Council to hold an emergency session to address India’s “illegal actions”.

And it is because of this political climate is why Malik felt it was more important to speak up. And go there.

But why her? Priyanka was specifically in her sights mainly because of her international appeal, which according to Malik set her apart from other Bollywood stars who were also posted patriotic “Jai Hind” tweets of their own.

“Priyanka is international, she is Mrs. Jonas, she is more than just a Bollywood actress,” Malik explained in a recent interview with Gulf News. “Therefore, I was more frustrated with her than the other Bollywood actors.”

So, when Malik heard her commenting on the importance of respecting other cultures to a predominantly non-South Asian audience, an audience that — according to Malik — wasn’t aware of the star’s political stance drove her to ask That Question.

Then everyone’s phones exploded.

“Priyanka” was trending on Twitter. Various videos of the exchange started popping up everywhere.

 

Why The Priyanka 'Hypocrite' Story Just Won't Go Away
Why The Priyanka ‘Hypocrite’ Story Just Won’t Go Away: The heroine or the villainess (depending who you ask), Ayesha Malik. Photo Credit: www.gulfnews.com

 

And judging by the newsfeed, Priyanka screwed up. Big time.

By mid-week, global media outlets, depending on their country of origin either cheered Malik on for taking a stand, or celebrated Priyanka for “royally shutting down” the “heckler”. You can probably guess the countries here.

It’s stating the obvious, the power that social media possesses. The platform wields an incredible capacity to connect the globe. The world is more intertwined than ever before so the notion that one can be ignorant or even have a passing knowledge of certain world affairs — especially when it has to do with a country that they are attached to — makes it even more unrealistic.

Malik who runs a car dealership in Alaska is also an influencer with a whopping 90K followers. So it could be conceivable that she deliberately brought a little bit extra drama to table for her followers. Her commentary and questioning did come across a bit sensationalistic. And having someone ask a pointed political question at a beauty event can catch anyone off guard, let alone being called a hypocrite from the start. All valid points. However flip the coin and you also have a Bollywood star who is quite involved with various levels of social activism — specifically as the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, thus exposing herself to various political environments. That level of familiarity could have lent itself to a more succinct answer. She also has a unique perspective to share since both of her parents served as doctors with the Indian Army and therefore her tweet in question showed an affection for the military that runs deeper than just your run-of-the-mill nationalistic sentiment.

Priyanka could have said all of that. But she didn’t. Instead she characterized Malik as “venting” and asked her “not to embarrass” herself in what was seen by plenty as a manner that was cold, condescending and dismissive. She could have asked the security team to return the mic back to Malik, as video showed them aggressively yanking it from her hands, thereby prompting Malik to finish her question by “yelling” as an attempt to be heard by the actress. But it didn’t happen.

Fans were irate. Many proclaiming their new status of being ex-fans were left wondering why they supported the Bollywood star for so long. Politicians took to the podium including Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari who tweeted that UNICEF should remove the global star as their ambassador.

 

Why The Priyanka "Hypocrite" Story Just Won't Go Away
Why The Priyanka ‘Hypocrite’ Story Just Won’t Go Away: Minister Mazari’s tweet. Photo Credit: www.twitter.com/shireenmazari1

 

Why The Priyanka 'Hypocrite' Story Just Won't Go Away
Why The Priyanka ‘Hypocrite’ Story Just Won’t Go Away: Mocking her empowerment mission. Photo Credit: www.twitter.com/saisailu97

 

Priyanka’s answer referring to her also having many “Pakistani friends” also came under fire, as it was compared to the ‘I have black friends’ trope.

 

Why The Priyanka "Hypocrite" Story Just Won't Go Away
Why The Priyanka ‘Hypocrite’ Story Just Won’t Go Away: Pointing out her “I have Pakistani friends” remark. Photo Credit: www.twitter.com/priyankapaul

 

Why The Priyanka 'Hypocrite' Story Just Won't Go Away
Why The Priyanka ‘Hypocrite’ Story Just Won’t Go Away: And cue the memes. Photo Credit: www.twitter.com/mazbonafide

 

A supportive tweet was few and far between.

 

Why The Priyanka 'Hypocrite' Story Just Won't Go Away
Why The Priyanka ‘Hypocrite’ Story Just Won’t Go Away: In support of PC. Photo Credit: www.twitter.com/girldontyell

 

If you think that the media has moved on, you’d be mistaken. CNN.com published an opinion piece The Problem With Priyanka Chopra by Mehwish Hayat a popular Pakistani model, television star and activist. And that was just a few hours ago. Hayat highlights the differences between her country, Hollywood and Bollywood when it comes to celebrities taking political stances, “Bollywood is a very different beast. Perhaps alarmed by Hollywood’s open opposition to his ally Donald Trump, Indian PM Modi has arguably co-opted and weaponized the country’s film industry.”

Hayat goes further noting that to her, Priyanka’s patriotic approach is more akin jingoistic racism, “it is difficult, often impossible, for Pakistani actors to find work in India. Pakistan is a Muslim majority nation and Islamophobia is a top-down industry in India: at the top, hyper-nationalist films, songs and slogans teach the masses to hate. At the grassroots, Muslims have been killed for so-called “crimes,” such as eating beef.”

Instead, Priyanka could have approached the answer with a broader scope. “The only way to do this is to avoid the path of least resistance — populist rhetoric — and focus on the universal humanitarian causes that all sides can agree on.” Now that is making the rounds on social media.

Social media has exponentially given this more oxygen that it may deserve. With every tweet, there’s a retweet, a like and a troll. For every reaction there’s a counter point. For every gesture of love, there’s a gesture of hate. Click. Refresh. Repeat. And we’ve seen it before. But this time the life expectancy of this issue is surprisingly longer than usual. Sure, Priyanka could be wanting to take the high road as to not add any more fuel to the fire.  But her silence may not be the remedy. She may need to step up and speak her truth to put this whole debacle out of its misery.

As I write this, a quick Google search got me a full page of different change.org petitions. Not one, not two, but eight change.org petitions asking for Priyanka to be removed from her Goodwill Ambassador position. One reaching 153,000 signatures and other hitting 60,000 signatures as I type this. There’s only one petition asking her to stay. With only 500 signatures so far.

So as the days tick away, it will be interesting to see how and when this will become yesterday’s news. It definitely will at some point.

But by the looks of yet, not quite yet.

(*Note that this isn’t an opinion piece. It’s our look back at the week that was. Tell us in the comments below or hit us up on social #anokhilife on FB, Twitter, Insta with your take on this whole mess and why you think this may still stick around for while.)

 

Main Image Photo Credit: www.eonline.com

 

Hina P. Ansari

Hina P. Ansari

Author

Hina P. Ansari is a graduate from The University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario). Since then she has carved a successful career in Canada's national fashion-publishing world as the Entertainment/Photo Editor at FLARE Magazine, Canada's national fashion magazine. She was the first South Asian in...

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