I have always been a supporter of the Freedom of Expression. Considering that most of my views flow against traditional conservatism, I have been asked to shut up and told that I can’t say certain things, or say certain things in a certain way many times in the past, and I have always opposed such notions with utmost vehemence, pointing to what I believe is the cornerstone of any civilized, democratic society- The Freedom of Speech and Expression, the ability to exchange ideas, no matter how stupid, insensitive or absurd they seem.
But then, I am confronted with lyrics like “Adi da avala, Odha da avala…” (“Hit her, kick her…” Why? Because she rejected the man’s love) and “Naa unakku pei padam, nee enakku bittu padam” (“I am your horror film, and you’re my porno”)
I squirm, disgusted, and as hypocritical as it sounds, I question the extent of the freedom I cherish at these times.
The whole issue of how women are represented in Indian Cinema can be a whole other article, with instances from every industry we have but the issue I am dealing with here is with such lyrics. Arguments are made that such lyrics don’t influence good people- “People who are already okay with the meaning are the only ones who listen to it, otherwise they would shun it. So good kids can’t get corrupted.”
Pardon me, but even if we were to accept that argument, the last thing the society needs is reinforcement of these thoughts in those who already hold them. Our endeavor must to be to wipe out racism, sexism, homophobia and all other bigoted beliefs, not to allow these thoughts to exist, and silently watch as all of this is being propagated, with those behind them taking refuge under freedom of speech.
The fact remains that we’re being disgusting, perverted, violent and bigoted towards one half of the society with the way we construct our “art.” And all this will come across as extremely hypocritical coming from an Eminem fan (Full disclosure), but this needs to change.
To be clear, I am not suggesting a “ban” on these songs- I never would, and that’s only partly because of “rights and personal liberty” or the fact that we could never enforce them.
I am also not suggesting that sex or sexuality should not be explored in our music, or that lust, as an emotion should never be discussed. They are all fundamental aspects of human life, which should be and will be discussed.
My only problem is with bigotry. Irrespective of whether it’s Eminem or Lil Wayne fantasizing about rape or GV Prakash and Dhanush, I believe a complete and concentrated effort is needed to wipe out bigotry. And tying back to the beginning, I do not believe in passing legislation to silence or shut people up.
So what do we do?
It is true that all arts are only reflections of the society. Artists only say what people in the society already think, but it is also true that certain bigoted thoughts should not be allowed to flourish.
Would we silently let a song that ideologically screamed “Beat up the Jews” or “Rape Muslims” blare through our radio waves? No. The artist’s career would end the minute something like that was said, and not necessarily due to legislation. It’s time we stop discriminating and treat all bigotry the same. Sexism and exploitation shouldn’t be profitable ideas- certainly not in the times we live in.