Few days back, a song sung by Tamil actor Silambarasan (also called Simbu) and allegedly composed by music director Anirudh who is famous for composing ‘Why This Kolaveri Di?’ which went viral worldwide, has landed them both in soup. The song titled ‘Beep Song’ now, starts with a censored cuss word and then goes on to advice men to stop falling in love with women. At one point, a censored portion allegedly suggests men to have an one-night stand with girls instead of love. With no denial, this song has misogynism written all over it. Since few women had taken offense of this song, section 509 of the Indian Penal Code applies here which might land the actor and the composer in jail. Since there are a good amount of obscene words, section 292 of the IPC applies here. So, this song is now a legal issue apart from being a sexist.
The point of this article is not to condemn the duo and I’m not supporting them at any point, but to look at who had protested against the duo on this issue and their contradictory points when it comes to ‘freedom of expression’. Two hardcore Left organisations had staged protest and one of them had filed case against the duo. This article is not meant to divert from the issue, but to look at how Left groups decide our ‘freedom to do anything’.
Beep song issue vs Beef Ban issue – Freedom to do things
When Maharashtra and Haryana governments made some amendments in the already existing cow slaughter laws, Leftist Intellectuals across the country outraged like it is the end of our freedom. Their bone of contention was ‘what an individual does within their home or in private should not be the interest of State’. They cried that ‘State should not be poking its nose into eating habits and there must be freedom’. A group of Hindus were offended by the ongoing cow slaughter and the response of Left to it was ‘no matter who feel offended and no matter if cow slaughter is illegal, freedom to eat must be upheld at any cost’.
By applying the stand Left took on Beef Ban, it might sound like ‘no matter who gets offended and no matter if obscene words are illegal, freedom to sing must be upheld at any cost’ in case of Beep song. Now I wonder, if BJP government at Centre had arrested Simbu for this Beep song, will the same Left groups publicly sing the same Beep song, like how they held Beef fest?
According to Simbu’s side, the ‘Beep Song’ was recorded two years back at a private location for their personal entertainment and it was leaked recently by some unknown person. While the method of leaking is still dubious, this song stayed as a private recording for almost two years. Simbu had clarified that this song was composed for purely personal purpose and was meant only for a particular private audience. Without the leak, this was purely a private matter and without surveillance, chances of the State penalising Simbu is very negligible. Even plots to create tension or perform assassination happen within closed doors, but that does not fall under ‘freedom to do anything behind closed doors’. Similarly, both cow slaughter and beep songs are illegal and needs to be viewed from the prism of law, rather than from the prism of ‘freedom of expression’. People who are uncomfortable with such laws must challenge them in court and channelize their energy in performing amendments to it, rather than shouting about ‘freedom’ from their rooftops.
Beep song has offended a large group of women and Cow slaughter has offended a large group of Hindus, which also include women. Both are offensive acts and both must be solved legally.
Left Misogynism vs Right Misogynism
Not only Beef Ban, Left groups supported a Tamil folk singer called Kovan when he called Tamilnadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha in a derogatory manner in his song ‘Shut down the Tasmac‘ and called for protesters to demolish government run liquor outlets. In the case of Kovan, making obscene statements at a woman falls under freedom of expression, as long as the person belongs to their ideology. If Simbu becomes a Leftist, will the Left support Simbu?
Sunni Muslim leader Aboobacker Musliyar mocked ‘gender equality’ and made misogynistic remarks labeling women as ‘baby making machines’. Of course, he had not used any abuse words, but did ‘only fit for delivering babies’ statement not outrage modesty of any woman in the country? There were just words of condemnation from a Left leader from other state but none of the Left groups protested or burnt effigies. Maybe, Simbu should look out for converting?
When Congress leader EVKS Elangovan made sexist joke after Modi met Jayalalitha in her residence, none of the Left group protested against him. On the contrary, many supported the Congress leader and called Jayalalitha’s action on him as stifling the freedom of expression.
When writer Perumal Murugan wrote about an alleged extra-marital ritual in a Tiruchengodu festival, Left groups supported the writer and claimed that ‘Freedom of Expression’ is absolute, while locals of Tiruchengodu claimed that ‘the book outraged the modesty of their women’.
Leftist Intellectuals protested against Censor of obscene words and Porn Ban
Our progressive Leftist Intellectuals have issues when Censor board puts a list of obscene words to be banned. And they want cuss words to be banned in a song even after it is replaced with beep. Do they want abuses to be censored or not to be censored? So, if a song with vulgar words becomes viral without censors, should we be holding the Leftist Intellectuals responsible for such behavior from young celebrities?
Our Left-leaned intellectuals wants porn to be freely available and protests against ban on porn. But does porn glorify women? Porn movies demean women and forms the foundation for rampant sexism and misogynism among youth. We are confused. What does our Indian Left really want? Does it want to fight against misogynism by fight against a particular cuss word while calling for free flow of porn among our youth? So, if two young celebrities watch porn at their homes and that video goes viral without their knowledge, does that becomes an act that warrants arrest? Is that an intrusion of their privacy or does that act abuse women? So, by protesting against porn ban, can the Leftist Intellectuals be held responsible for such a future incident?
Sexism on the Silver screen
This Beep song is not the only song with misogynism propped up in Tamil cine industry. There were more strongly sexist lyrics with no obscene words though, that had occupied the tongue and mind of so many Tamil youth. A song sung by Raanjhanaa fame Dhanush in one of his Tamil movie called ‘Mayakkam Enna’ raps women for not accepting love and at one point suggests the lead character to beat, kick or leave the woman. I do not remember an outrage by women groups then. However, the concern now raised by women groups might prove fruitful when it can help prevent such ideas taking root among youth. Most of the recent Tamil movies featured a bar song where drunk hero and his friends blame women for their love failure. Given the storyline that they force women with their repeated torture and the weak heroine gives in, her rejection seems to be not her fault alone. But since most of young men are indoctrinated with such ideas by movies or by fellow men circles, directors might have urging to keep such songs to attract that huge audience. Let the outrage generated by this Beep song serve as a tool to end such misogynistic ideas being spread among the populace via movies.
To conclude, this article is not to support the actor-musician accused of an obscene and sexist song. The sole intention of this article was to pen down the oscillations of the Leftist groups when it comes to events surrounding ‘Freedom to do anything’. Such incidents prove that Left groups takes the side of ‘Freedom of Expression’ or ‘Women modesty outraged’ depending on their political agenda and not to support the real victim at any case.