Dear Media, Blind Items Should Not See The Light of Day
It’s time blind items about celebrities should be done away with
It’s been over a week since Sushant Singh Rajput’s demise, but there seems to be no end to the cacophony surrounding this tragic incident. A thousand conspiracy theories have been conceived, people have divided themselves into ‘camps’, hashtags on how nepotism actually pushed the actor to take this extreme step started trending and even decade-old clips of a frivolous chat show were dug out to name and shame actors.
On one hand, this entire ‘circus’ around something as traumatic as suicide shows how unprepared we still are to have sensitive conversations around mental health. On the other, questions have also been raised about the manner in which the media has covered the incident - from a basic flaw in the language used to describe the nature of Sushant’s death to headlines that screamed of apathy.
Another pressing topic has also found its way back through actors - the immediate need to eradicate celebrity blind items. While it would be grossly unfair to attribute this as a trigger to Sushant’s decision and take away the fact that we should grieve quietly and not add to the sound, it is imperative that we don’t turn a blind eye to the malicious gossip pieces that surfaced in the wake of his death.
What is a Blind Item?
Some mainstream media and a few websites only dedicated to ‘blinds’ have nuggets on the so-called private lives of public figures, solely meant for the ‘entertainment’ of readers. While these blinds do not name celebrities, they do have adequate description for easy identification.
Despite being criticised a number of times for inaccuracies and spreading falsehood, blinds have helped publications escape the clutches of law. Also, they have been making no amends to rectify their politically incorrect language. In fact, the stings only seem to get more poisonous by the day.
Blinds are not a phenomenon exclusive to India. British publications, too, are notorious for pestering celebrities. Example, the nasty ones on Princess Diana. It’s prevalent in Hollywood too. In fact, an anonymous entertainment lawyer who runs a website named Crazy Days and Nights was crowned ‘King of the Hollywood Blind Item’ recently.
Bollywood’s Objection to Blinds
The conversation regarding doing away with blind items is not new. In 2017, Ranbir Kapoor had expressed a similar concern in a podcast with a few stand-up comedians. He said, “Blind Items are like really the scum of the earth. I can understand when you hide behind a source and a question mark and then you give names but 'Blind item' is like you're so scared that you can't even say because it's all a lie.”
A few days back, Kriti Sanon took to social media to call out the ‘trolling and gossiping world’. In her post she wrote, “Blind items should be illegal, should be banned! They should come under mental harassment. So either have proof or guts to write names, or don’t write it at all! You write ‘hear-say’ and call it journalism while you have no idea how badly that can affect someone’s mind, their family, their life”.
From Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari to Riddhima Kapoor and Pulkit Samrat, many from the fraternity extended support to Kriti.
Taking to Instagram, Kangana Ranaut also shared a video clip wherein she refers to all the blinds about Sushant. “You take recourse to blind items when you have to pen lies about someone. Nobody can even take legal action against you because no names have been disclosed. Sushant had often featured in these blinds. He had been projected as a narcissist, his looks scorned upon and was even termed a sexual harasser”, Kangana alleged, adding that all these rumours have been quashed by the late actor’s co-stars and friends.
I repeat: There’s NO evidence to support Kangana’s claims that these blind items acted as a trigger for Sushant. I bring this up because it suggests that the scars inflicted by these anonymous pieces are sometimes too deep to heal.
Even Sonam Kapoor reposted The Swaddle’s query as to whether media should get rid of celebrity blind items and wrote, ‘YES’.
If this is not disturbing enough, what came as a shock to me was when Bollywood Insider retweeted their blind on Sushant the day he passed on, proudly showing off that they had given us a ‘snippet’ of his life days before his death.
Gossip and Slander - Time to Re-evaluate
Tattling, whispering, gossiping - these things are part and parcel of our nature. After all, aren’t scandals always the talk of the town? Yes, figures under public scrutiny are constantly reminded to grow a thick skin, but when they themselves are raising objections and pointing out how these ‘little birdies’ are affecting and hurting them, isn’t it time we re-evaluate the multitudinous things that were once part of the popular culture but now have proved to be nothing but hollow and fake?
Blind items and third-rate gossip can really kill the self-confidence of people. It’s very easy to justify the smiles with which celebrities brush off questions revolving around trolling and bullying, but deep down only they know how they feel.
Earlier, the power of blind items would reduce by miles because the channels of communication were endless. But with stars becoming more accessible to their fans and followers and social media waiting to prey on the juiciest of information floating around, this casual thing nestled in the corner of a tabloid or a website can be lethal.
An incident as catastrophic as death should not act as a catalyst to delve into events that are harming our self-worth.
There’s enough anger, hatred, loathing and mud bath in the cyberspace that celebrities have to endure on a daily basis. At a time when thousands are succumbing to a pandemic, hunger and unemployment have gripped the world, pleas calling for a more empathetic world are ringing loud and clear in our ears. As we gear up for a ‘new’ normal, striving to accept the changes in our day-to-day lives, let’s not forget about those souls who we are killing with our hurtful words. Let us use the privileges of our platforms to build a kinder future. Last but not the least, let us respect the fact that celebrities have chosen to keep a part of their lives under wraps and we have no right to infringe upon their privacy.
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