To roast or not to roast

Karanvir Gupta
Recently in the muck of controversies at the national gamut of affairs has been the AIB Knockout starring Karan Johar (as the host) and the actors Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh (as the roast) along with AIB crew. The event was watched by 4000 people in SardarVallabh Bhai Patel stadium at Worli and millions on (probably the fastest viral) media channel youtube. Interestingly where on one side there are masses who found it humorous and were in splits, there were (are) people who have taken offense by such content and vulgarity.The content has been reported to be violent, abusive and explicit in nature and found inappropriate for communities. What I found more interesting about the event and the complete hula boo is timing of the controversy rather than the offense part of it. (just at the cusp of Internet age)
I would personally like to touch upon two major issues here one being the nature of the content and the other being medium of distribution. Talking about the content, it is being said that it was of inappropriate nature deemed to be unsuitable for children and even for the communities as a whole. I have strong objections here! Where is all this sensibility gone when programs like Big Boss are shown on television at premier time slots. Where is the whole issue of objectionable/non-objectionable content when Roadies and Splitsvilla are one of the most sought after programs. So that makes me ask ‘why these double standards?’ Just because words like c@@t, f@@k, etc. are being used, somebody is being mocked about his sexuality; we can’t give the verdict of content being inappropriate. Firstly, the protagonists here have agreed to brave that humor on them in front of public and secondly it is a program that delivers sense of humor. So why all the objection!
Over and above, why nobody objects against the wrong virtues and morals being shoved down the throat of innocent kids via daily soap operas and the vampires in it. The mere fact that it is packaged as a family drama, it can’t be let go of that brunt. Or would you like to maintain that abuses, mocking, sex and mocking about sex and sexuality is more vulgar than being vicious. If the society were to go through such rules, it would imply context has no role to play. Sad enough but that is what our hypocrite society seems to point out currently.
The other side of the coin, which is still little appropriate to an extent is the medium of distribution. Yes, the content being available freely at the internet increases the risk of it being available to everyone and children below 18 years of age. Though the sites posting adult content and media like youtube ask us to sign in with an e-mail id, it is not a full proof method. But neither does television is a safe complement to it. In today’s world of nuclear families and both parents working, you otherwise also have no control over what your kids watch on television and what sort of content they are being exposed to. This leads us to a point where content management is needed and not restriction on freedom of speech and expression.
Trust me we are getting offended by the wrong things and we are asking the wrong questions! If you really want to get offended, please get offended by children roaming as beggars on the street who should be busy studying in schools, get offended by social injustice done towards poor and down trodden. If you want to feel bad about something, feel bad about female feticide, rapes and murders that take place on streets. It is about the sensibilities and the value system you and I, we as a community develop in our generations to come and it cannot be modeled by what content they are getting exposed to. It will be rather shaped by what we instill in them. Times are changing and so do are ways of dealing with these problems should also change. And that is why it is becoming important that children talk freely to their parents so that parents or siblings can tell them the right and wrong at the very onset of learning phases. For the time being, let AIB Knockout just be an art form that was delivering humor. Ask the right questions and I am sure we will get the right answers! It is not about To Roast or Not To Roast, it is about, as William Shakespeare says, To Be or Not To Be!
(The Writer is a student at Indian Institute of Management Shillong)