By Purvi Yadav
I am not surprised by the hype and online bashing on social media which is trending for more than 2 weeks over Sunny Leone’s interview on one of the most reputed news channel CNN-IBN. Facebook, twitter and other social networking sites are floored with #hastags supporting Sunny Leone’s honesty and shaming the Journalist in best possible ways. As I saw the much talked interview of Sunny Leone on English News channel followed by reading few articles written around the same, it made me think about the purpose of the interview and necessity of the discussions and bashing that followed. There is no denying fact that Sunny faced all the questions by Mr. Bhupendra Chaubey bravely with at most honesty and dignity; however I want to bring out a back stage reality which is completely neglected in all the discussions.
It’s a popular saying and also basic understanding in the newsroom that media serves the news or information that is of Public’s interest or arouses their interest. Bhupendra Chaubey or for that matter any Journalist is not guardian or instructor of morality or Indian culture. The whole purpose of such interview is to catch public’s eye thereby getting boost in channel’s TRP. Before this interview, everyone knew who is Sunny Leone, what is her past and how she got into media industry? the whole information is available on internet (note: she is most searched person on Google) So why would anyone watch her interview? In the whole game of TRP, such interviews are spiced up with most intriguing and uncomfortable questions so as to bring something that would catch people’s attention- same thing happened here, Bhupendra Chaubey did his job very well! Trust me, why? Ask yourself- did you actually knew who is Bhupendra Chaubey before this interview (Media people will be knowing him for sure), but now people know him, even if in the bad light. Another popular saying in Visual media is “Any publicity- positive or negative is good publicity”. So the major purpose of the interview was attained.
If we go more deep, talking about the nature of the questions- these questions are not just reflections of Bhupendra Chaubey’s mindset but the whole team who would have rigorously worked on the program keeping in mind the TRP target and of course gauging Public’s attention, after all its not every day you get to interview Pornstar turned Bollywood Actress who is coming up with a Sex comedy. Frankly speaking where uttering words like ‘sex’, ‘porn’ is not considered okay, Sunny Leone’s interview was woven to be bombastic in a way that her past was targeted; victimizing her would attract audience! However tables turned around where she refused to be apologetic or regretful about her past life.
For me, this whole episode stirred lots of questions and demonstrated varied paradoxes which are evident in Indian society. Broadly, the ecosystem of our society remains in equilibrium when gender roles assigned are followed religiously for example- Men holding higher position in corporate scenario where they have decision making power while women don’t. This equilibrium shakes when a women asserts her personal choices in public domain, does something that is contrary to the gender role assigned to her. Women expressing her sexual desires openly or even behind the closed doors of bedroom is considered taboo, in such scenario a woman making a career in porn industry is something that is simply not acceptable. How can a woman sleep around with different men and make videos out of it and earn money, this is so personal! She might have done it under some pressure, she might have been forced into this- it can’t be her choice, these are thoughts that come very openly which were voiced by Bhupendra Chaubey. He is just a name to many anonymous minds who think on the same lines.
Amidst of all this chaos, supporting Sunny Leone’s stand and bashing the journalist at the same time somewhere tends to victimize her again. Bollywood actors, online supporters showed anger on the questions that were bombarded on her. But she didn’t feel threatened, contrary she answered like a dignified person who was not moved by the sharpness of questions, so why this superficial sympathy? She is an independent woman who knows what she wants, knows how to exert her choices, she is not asking for any sympathy.
Another paradox is the gap between what Media serves and what public want to see! Media says we serve what is public demand, public says we watch what is served to us! For example- A popular Media production house produces saas-bahu serials stating that this is what homemakers are interested in, and the same production house makes sex comedy films targeting youth. However there is a section of Youth who in their leisure time watches saas-bahu serials. How do we really know what we want to watch and who has given right to Media to label us that we are interested in watching a particular type of drama? If we see, even Media people are part of the society that audience belongs to. There is no right, wrong or definite answers to questions swelling around the whole episode, it’s more about how structured our mindsets have become. It’s so difficult to really break those structures and think authentically as to how news can be really presented to audience without biases.