In today’s fast-paced world, anything and everything digital is immortalized. Pictures, videos, quotes all seem to live forever in the internet realm and the past is never left in the past. This applies to our celebrities as well who’ve amassed followings in millions. There have been countless cases around the world where many celebrities have gotten into trouble for something they tweeted or said in an interview years ago.
Pakistani celebrities are not exempt from this. The internet culture might have taken more time to become common in Pakistan, but the globally practiced norm of a celebrity’s internet persona reflecting their off-screen image is the same for Pakistani celebrities.
Most of our celebs are followed by a huge number of common folks interested in their daily lives. Due to this, every post, every caption, every story they post is seen by hundreds of thousands of people hanging on to every word they put out. Most of their fans take our stars’ content very seriously and are quite impressionable. In such circumstances, it becomes crucial for the celebrity in question to be very careful while speaking about sensitive topics on national television or any public platform.
Recently, we’ve seen various clips from morning shows, interviews, or even social media posts where some celebrity has made an ill-informed comment regarding some important issue. These comments come across as callous and insensitive to certain groups of people and often drag the celebrity into a puddle of controversy. While sometimes, celebrities take responsibility and apologize, other times they dig themselves deeper by trying to further explain something politically incorrect.
Then there is the matter of privacy as well. Some celebrities have found themselves at the receiving end of trolling from the internet because of their private lives. The anonymity that the internet provides has blurred the lines about what is an acceptable commentary on any topic and what is not. And more often than not, the trolling that happens on the desi side of social media falls under the extremely intrusive and unacceptable category.
The internet immortalizes everything. No statement can be forgotten, no interview can be erased and no clip can be deleted. Recently, Aagha Ali received backlash on a clip that resurfaced after five years and ended up creating quite the fuss. In the clip, Aagha made some statements that hurt the sentiments of the Pashtuns. This happened just a few days after Aagha Ali had gotten backlash for making a statement that came across as fatphobic.
In both cases, Aagha took to his social media and apologized for the statements. Another case of a celebrity using the opportunity to learn from their mistake was when Sonya Hussyn named Autism as one of the symptoms of schizophrenia in one of her Instagram posts. The comment came under fire when the mother of a child on the spectrum called her out for the uninformed statement. Sonya made up for the slight by arranging a live session with a mental health expert to further educate people on mental illnesses.
But some celebrities don’t even acknowledge their mistakes let alone apologizing for them. When a clip resurfaced on the social media where Mawra Hocane was shown as casually disregarding the street harassment and catcalling that women face on occasions like Eid as the boys having fun because “unki bhi toh Eid hai”, it caused the actress to receive major backlash on the social media. She has yet to address the problematic nature of her statement.
Cautious use of the platform
Celebrities, like any other human being, are prone to make mistakes. It is not right to expect them to be perfect all the time. However, cautious efforts should be taken by celebrities when they conduct themselves on social media as the huge following that they enjoy is made up of real, impressionable people who do get affected by the things they post.
Celebrities like Osman Khalid Butt, Mahira Khan, and Mehwish Hayat use their huge platforms to talk about relevant issues. They use their stardom to make space for issues that need to be in the limelight and to speak up against various social injustices. In doing so, they provide a textbook example of using fame and fortune for the greater good.
Being in the public eye in recent times means that everything a celebrity does will be scrutinized and every mistake they make will be recorded in permanent ink. In such circumstances, it is up to our celebrities to strike a balance between their public and personal life and tread carefully on digital grounds. In the words of Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility” and so, with a huge following, come greater trials.