You either die believing in your idols. Or live long enough to watch them become villains. Such is the case with Vivek Oberoi, the once seemingly benign actor son of an actor dad who wanted to dabble in acting and took it a tad too seriously.
Vivek Oberoi was never the best actor, except for of course 'Company', he is not the most conventionally handsome, neither rugged nor baby-faced, nor is he an extremely talented dancer - all the things that seem to make for popular 'heroes' in the country. But none of that makes him a bad person. However, his latest stunt-- sharing a meme on Aishwarya Rai has enraged the nation. And, rightly so.
In the now viral meme, three of Rai's photos have been mashed up. In one she is with former beau Salman Khan and the caption on it is "Opinion Poll". In the second she is with Oberoi himself. This is one is captioned "Exit Poll". In the last photo, she is seen with husband Abhishek Bachchan and family.
First, what is this new trend on piggy-backing on an actress's fame to get popular on social media, especially during elections? It happened first with Swara Bhasker when some right-wing trolls created a vile placard campaign against the actor, who campaigned for AAP's East Delhi candididate Atishi Marlena CPI's Begusarai candidate Kanhaiya Kumar.
One bent on finding fault or complicity in Bhasker would argue that she was targeted for her open support for a political faction (or rather opposition for a political faction) and that fact that she actively vocalises said support or opposition on Twitter, thus opening herself up to the trolling (read abuse). But what about Rai?
She is not known for engaging with trolls on Twitter, I can't think of the last time I heard her say anything remotely related to politics or elections. Yet her past relationships were dragged out of nowhere to serve a purpose that is both futile and degrading - fan election hysteria in the fag end of a, particularly aggressive poll season.
With the seventh and last phase of elections winding up on Sunday, most exit polls have been predicting the best outcomes for the Bharatiya Janata Party. But the final numbers can only be ascertained on May 23 and there is really not much else to do than wait for it. In an electoral democracy, these should be fun times.
Imagine a hall full of clamouring tenth graders who have just written their last paper and have just a few days in hand before the new session starts. It should be a time for reflections, relaxation for all those who have given the exam, in this case, the voters and politicians. And a time of meticulous caution and hard-work for the teachers - in this case, the poll officers counting votes.
But instead of waiting patiently to find out what all the months of campaigning and voting led to, all many of us can do is poke fun at a woman.
And while the meme itself was vile, the fact that Vivek Oberoi, apparently a New York University educated man would share something which is clearly a dig at a former paramour in order to gain political brownie points is just more than disturbing.
Many would question if one can even blame him at all. His post has over 8,000 likes and counting. For someone in the business of popularity, be it Bollywood or politics, the ability to click with the masses is key. Clearly, when low-lives perpetrate "jokes" against women, they feel empowered and help others low lives feel the same. To a majority of people in India, it makes sense to take digs at a woman's personal life, it is completely fine for exes to be toxic and hey, it's only a joke all you "feminazi" dolts. Calm down. All of Indian social media is mostly just a diverse 'Incel' community anyway. Separated by caste, creed, religion, ideology, economy and politics but united in their (only mild) disdain for women.
Amid all this social media brouhaha, NCW stepped in for some apparent reason. Chairperson Rekha Sharma said that Oberoi must apologise. "If he doesn't do, we will see what legal action can we take against him. We will be talking to Twitter to remove that tweet immediately," Sharma said.
But the actor has decided he won't apologise. In fact, he doesn't even see the problem. "I don't think I have done anything wrong. What's wrong in it?"
He didn't stop at that. He said he had been working for women empowerment for more than a decade, as a defence to his tweet. A classic example of how misogynistic try to hide their misogyny by pretending to be the saviour of women. In fact, he was so annoyed at being called out that instead of coming out with a proper defense, he asked Sonam Kapoor to not 'overact' in her films.
Someone please tell Oberoi that misogyny is what is wrong.