“I feel like a raped woman”. Before you sing tunes of praise to Bollywood’s quintessential bad boy and the loyal ‘Bhai’ of millions of fans, let that one real life dialogue settle into your hearts as this was spoken by our own ‘problematic fave’, Salman Khan.
The absurd nationwide obsession with the controversial Indian superstar, Salman Khan, may not be justified to some. Especially because of his questionable demeanor and his history of crime that is rather unsettling, especially with a generation that swears by consciousness and revolts any kind of problematic supremacy.
The 52-year-old actor and so called ‘philanthropist’ has been the heartthrob of the world’s largest democracy, India, and is also someone who refuses to grow up. He is not only known for his tumultuous and abusive relationship with former beauty queen, Aishwarya Rai, but has also been convicted (and later acquitted) of a hit and run case and poaching charges. At this point, to idolize such an inflammable character is bizarre considering how his admiration perpetuates misogyny, abuse, and a power struggle within the entertainment industry.
The millennial culture thrives off idolizing icons, worshipping fandoms, and personalizing struggle stories to relate to our idols and to be inspired by their currencies. Salman Khan, unfortunately, cannot be inspiring to say the least. There is a problem with glorifying problematic celebrities and public figures. The problem is when we start to idolize these figures, we do not realize that they often promote and represent societal ills we are harmed by on a daily basis. Khan has appeared to be on many occasions the self-obsessed, ignorant, callous, and pampered poster boy for more than three decades. His bludgeoning comments on women have been complimentary to violent patriarchy, that is so decadently thriving in society. I see no morality or conscience of those who choose to support Khan, be it celebrities, fans, or benefactors. By supporting him, you are supporting a cantankerous, careless, and indifferent celebrity of supreme privilege, who is not only rude and unapologetic on his faults; but is arrogant that a non-transparent judicial system had pardoned him as well as his fan base.
We cannot afford ignorance, not at this turn of history. By his Being Human charity initiative, he has earned a ‘philanthropist’ status. It is with this façade he enables himself to be forgiven in the public eye. Some of the most obscure excuses that had been given by his fans to avoid his jail sentencing was that his ‘humanity was greater than his faults’, and that we should morally spare him the torture as he is such a ‘godly presence amongst us for his countless, selfless actions to the less privileged’. With every sense of logic invested in me, I sincerely do not think a philanthropist would kill two homeless citizens on the street and celebrate his freedom. There is no tug of war or competing humanities that can obstruct bringing justice to a criminal.
There is not a single charity he subscribes to or supports, and perhaps that is why his ‘humanity’ is so berserk. This clearly shows as he somehow compared his training for a movie role to the plight of a rape victim. I don’t see philanthropy in that and neither should you. Whether he has grown to be a family man or increasingly updated his image to one of positivity and hard labour, these are insufficient arguments to supplement his agency.
Thus we cannot forgive his ignorance and his brash behavior. He is a grown man, and hopefully one capable of intelligence, consciousness, and humility. We cannot spare him for his ‘careless adolescence’. He cannot feign ignorance and we cannot let him feign it, or in this case, allow him to be problematic when we clearly cannot allow others to be the same.
You have autonomy to choose who you stand by, but rather idolize those who stand by your similar morals. Do not be coerced into being shadows behind thoughtless celebrities who may display glamour and vanity, and essentially, embody the cavities of society.