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Man Offended By ‘Slur On Madhuri’ Calls Out Netflix: Merely Virtue Signalling For Attention?

This is content that has been available for 14 years, in multiple languages in up to 140 countries. It is unlikely that anything will come of this ‘notice’.

In the headlines yesterday, was a man putting Netflix to notice of intended legal action. This was for one remark made by one character in one show — hold your breath — fourteen years ago. The character is Rajesh Koothrapalli, the show is The Big Bang Theory, and the ‘derogatory’ remark was made in respect of Madhuri Dixit.

A self-proclaimed author and legal analyst, one Mithun Vijay Kumar is enraged by remarks that he calls ‘offensive’ and ‘defamatory’ which will have a ‘negative impact on society’ and hence wants Netflix to remove the objectionable content. Kumar may not have a legal leg to stand on with regard to a charge that is so obviously frivolous, so we do have to question his motives in doing what he did.

The ‘problematic’ line in The Big Bang Theory

In the scene we see Sheldon Cooper call Aishwarya Rai ‘a poor man’s Madhuri Dixit’. The incensed Rajesh claps back with “Aishwarya Rai is a goddess. By comparison Madhuri Dixit is a leprous prostitute.” Clearly the scene is meant to show us that Rajesh is a big fan of Rai and will use any kind of hyperbole to demonstrate his fandom. In poor taste? Yes. Funny? Not particularly. But defamatory? Heck no!

Firstly, a suit for defamation can be brought by a person whose reputation has been harmed by another. So, Dixit could have brought such a suit had her reputation been demonstrably impacted by this one line in the show. Also suit would have to be brought against the creators of the show, which Netflix clearly is not.

While the term used for Dixit is unsavoury, this was content of its time. It isn’t funny even in the context of fourteen years ago. To view Season 2 of BBT from the lens of 2023 is rather meaningless.

“Promotes sexism and misogyny”

The notice sent by Kumar to Netflix lists a litany of charges; that the term used for Dixit is ‘insulting (her) modesty’, ‘promoting harmful stereotypes’ etc. etc. The notice then goes on to demand that the content be removed from the platform.

This is content that has been available for 14 years, in multiple languages in up to 140 countries. It is unlikely that anything will come of this ‘notice’. By rights, if Kumar ventures to approach courts with something like this, such a suit should correctly be dismissed with costs.

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What is the real motive?

Unless the man is delusional, he is well aware that nothing can come of this legally, save the possible harassment of the streaming platform. So why do something so clearly pointless? Is the man a huge fan of Dixit? Is he so very concerned about social justice and equality in society? There appears to be no evidence of either.

Check out this video clip where the man airs his views on same-sex marriage; he opposes same sex marriages since it would, according to him, go against and insult tradition and culture.

Given that Kumar doesn’t appear overmuch concerned with the rights of some in society, it seems a little specious of him to pontificate on and claim to champion the rights of women.

Virtue signalling – when someone only ‘performs’ being good

Image source

I wonder what the motivations of the man are – did he jump out of bed one day, watch an episode of an American sitcom, become outraged on behalf some Indian women (he clearly doesn’t care for those women who may want to marry other women)? Checking out the man’s Twitter page, it appears that his political ambitions and desire for visibility, rather than his concern for women, appear to have guided his actions.

This appears to be one more man trying to virtue signal on women’s issues for an agenda of his own. This appears to be a nonentity trying to burnish his halo (non-existent) hanging on to the coattails of a famous woman. In the event one can only conclude that this is an action taken to earn a bit of fame and relevance.

We saw it with bestselling author Chetan Bhagat. On the one hand, he claimed that his book “explains feminism in a light simple manner”; in other words, he was virtue signalling as a man promoting feminist ideals. The same man was also called out for sexual harassment which he apologised for, because he apparently he ‘misread the friendliness’ (a textbook non apology: the ‘sorry if you were offended’ template.) We see it in the way that corporates virtue signal by holding events on Women’s Day while doing very little to increase women’s representation or promote gender equality in the work place.

So if one is wondering why Mithun Vijay Kumar sent a notice to Netflix, read the first line of this post – it is self-explanatory.

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About the Author

Reena Daruwalla

A former lawyer, now freelance writer, fauji wife, mother, singer, knitter and lover of my own cooking, I have altogether too many opinions and too few convictions. The more I learn the more I am read more...

36 Posts | 12,450 Views

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