Want to appear woke and relevant? Just express disgust at the latest humanitarian crisis rocking the globe and sign a petition calling for justice.
But make sure you don’t choose an issue to be enraged about that’s too close to home, such as the migrant labour crisis in India, because your armchair activism could blow up in your face.
In other words, take a leaf out of Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ convenient code of social media conduct where outrage is selective and activism is limited to foreign soil.
Chopra Jonas, one of India’s most recognised cultural export to the West, seems to have mastered the art of being indignant about all issues non-Indian.
Her choice of topics to be enraged about seems highly orchestrated. The brief seems to be simple: Express outrage about what’s happening around the globe, but maintain a deafening silence if it’s happening in India.
A few days ago, Chopra championed for George Floyd, the African-American civilian who was choked to death by a police officer, sparking protests across the US.
“Wherever you live, whatever your circumstances, NO ONE deserves to die, especially at the hands of another because of their skin colour,” posted Chopra Jonas on Instagram, along with the hashtag #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd.
But many have questioned, where was this anger and empathy when police were brutally beating up JNU students in Delhi or when minorities in India died due to communal violence?
Her ‘performative woke-ness’ and her apparent apathy towards issues troubling her native country haven’t gone unnoticed as a large section of social media users called her out for her double standards and hypocrisy.
Being a rebel with a worthy cause appropriated from the West won’t cut it anymore, they seem to say.
“Where was this solidarity when North Delhi was burning? Where was this solidarity when you shut down a young Pakistani origin activist by brushing aside her valid criticism of warmongering with a ‘stop-yelling’. Where was this solidarity when Kashmir was burning for months at an end with no internet to document the state’s excesses? Where was this solidarity when our universities were being attacked and students were literally under siege,” questioned author and verified Instagram user Harnidhk.
While we all stand up against police brutality and systemic, institutional racism in the United States or elsewhere, it’s difficult to buy into Chopra Jonas’ way of including her two-cents into a popular narrative by merely posting a caption under an image.
Coming from a star, who endorsed fairness creams in the past and claims to have regretted her endorsement, her outrage truly rankles.
Another Instagram user also pointed out that she is the ambassador for the Indian state Assam but refused to speak about the protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act that rocked the region. Some called her ‘tone-deaf’.
The big question remains if selective outrage among celebrities is worse than no outrage at all?
As another Chopra Jonas detractor alluding to India’s grim reality asked: “Black lives matter, but don’t Migrant lives, Muslim lives and Dalit lives matter too?”
OTHER BOLLYWOOD STARS CALLED OUT
Chopra Jonas isn’t the only Indian star who seems to find a voice when it comes to global issues, but remain passive if the issue is raging in India.
Maybe, their need to self-preserve, fear of backlash, being pelted with anti-national tags or being unpopular supersedes their need to appear woke and relevant.
Actress Disha Patani, who has endorsed fairness creams in India, posted that all skin colours are beautiful. She too jumped on the George Floyd justice bandwagon. Like Chopra Jonas, Patani was called out for her hypocrisy.
While the optimist in us wants to believe that their indignation comes from a real place, it also begs the question if celebrities like Chopra Jonas and Patani are merely self-serving while appearing to say the right things. These days, outrage doesn’t cost a thing.