Sonam Kapoor’s ‘Karma’ Comment Deserves Criticism, Not Hate
Does Sonam really deserve the kind of hate she’s getting?
Whether it’s Varun Dhawan saying ‘privilege = your father purchasing you a pencil box’ or Ananya Panday trying to explain how her privilege is not privileged enough, Bollywood actors seem to have a long, problematic history of justifying the prevalent nepotism in the industry. By now, you’d think they’d learn from such widely criticised instances but nope. Recently, Sonam Kapoor, once again, found herself being schooled by Twitter, and this time with good reason.
Here’s What Happened
On Sunday, 21 June - on the occasion of Father’s day - Sonam Kapoor took to social media to do exactly what everyone does. Put out that mandatory Father’s Day post. But boy, did she do it wrong.
Sonam started out with very heartfelt words - “Today on Father’s Day id like to say one more thing, yes I’m my fathers daughter and yes I am here because of him and yes I’m privileged.”
So far so good, right? Who doesn’t appreciate a Bollywood celebrity at least *trying* to acknowledge her privilege.
Then she started defending her privilege...
“That’s not an insult, my father has worked very hard to give me all of this.”
Still okay. Sure, there are layers to that one sentence. Hard work is not as black and white but we can let it go. Right?
However, her last sentence is what really triggered the outrage. Sonam concluded with an extremely tone-deaf statement, “And it is my karma where I’m born and to whom I’m born. I’m proud.”
And that, friends, is when all hell broke loose.
As an upper-caste woman belonging to a Hindu family, I’ve been on the other end of many such conversations. Conversations where my relatives have sat me down and tried to explain how my life is the result of my pre-determined “karma” and how I should be grateful for that, are awkward at best and infuriating at worst. Like Sonam, my relatives refuse to see how casteist their seemingly harmless opinions about ‘karma’ are.
But a person like Sonam Kapoor, who walks around with plenty of woke points in her pocket (she’s a very vocal LGBTQ+ ally), making such blatant casteist remarks in public is hella problematic.
Sonam clearly does not realise how her statement is justifying centuries of systemic caste oppression and class inequality that still very much exists in society. Yes, Sonam, you were born in an extremely privileged family and that’s great for you but to go out there and say that the reason others do not share the same fortune is because of some arbitrary past-life ‘karma’ nonsense is just WRONG. You can’t blame the underprivileged for being underprivileged and absolve yourself of any responsibility towards society.
There’s a huge difference between acknowledging your privilege and being entitled, and that tweet is definitely Sonam flexing her entitlement with no sensitivity whatsoever.
Now here’s the thing - I wholeheartedly believe in Sonam being called out for her tweet. But some of the awful trolling that followed her Father’s day post just seemed a little unnecessary.
For starters, this tweet calls her out for all the right things but in all the wrong ways. There’s no need to use derogatory and hateful language when calling out a celebrity, right?
It’s Been a Bad Week for Sonam
Sonam has been on the wrong side of Twitter for over a week now. Following Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, many began blaming her for the incident by circulating a completely out-of-context snippet from the TV show Koffee with Karan. It was wrong and no one’s denying that and it’s understandable if Sonam gets defensive about the incident, considering how it wasn’t her fault in the first place.
But for her to use the ‘karma’ debate as a comeback is, once again, in bad taste.
Let’s Talk Online Bullying
Sonam doesn’t deserve an iota of sympathy for her entitled casteist comments but I think we do need to acknowledge that the way we treat celebrities is not right. Sonam took to Instagram to share several hateful comments she received in light of Sushant’s death. And, TBH, they are quite hurtful.
Sonam’s tweet might be problematic, she might be the product of nepotism, she might be completely ignorant of her privilege.. but to flood her DMs with messages like “hope one day you’ll face same thing” and “you all should cry for your children death” is a bit too much.
Moreover, do we really expect Sonam to pay any heed to the sensible backlash coming her way when this is what’s grabbing most of her time and attention?
In one of the stories posted by Sonam, the actor talked about the cyberbullying culture. She wrote about how easy it is for a person on social media to hide behind a veil of anonymity and spew hate.
“You want to tag my 64 year old mother in a threat to rape me? Do it on your own profile so that your mom can see who you’ve become too.”
In the same post, Sonam also wrote, “Want me to use my privilege well? To be kind. Well, I’m trying. Social media and having a voice is a privilege too.”
And I’ve got to admit, Sonam has a point. There’s a very fine line between necessary criticism and hateful social media trolling, and slipping into the latter is very easy if one does not exercise caution. Public figures might seem accessible because of how closely we follow them on our screens but that does not give anyone the right to give up basic human decency while speaking about or to them.
So many of us go on and on about celebrities not using their privilege and power responsibly but are they the only ones who need to be responsible? Doesn’t the person criticising a celebrity also need to choose their words responsibly?
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