I’m about as guilty of consuming celebrity news as the next girl, and while I try to pass it off as an occupational hazard, there’s really no justifiable explanation as to why I was up at 2 AM at night to discuss the finer points of Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck’s joint statement about their split with my best friend who humoured me because of reasons I’m not fully aware of. I’ve also spent hours, that could have otherwise been spent in activities like coming up with conversation topics other than alien conspiracy theories, in reading up about celebrity dating histories.
So I have no leg to stand on and sanctimoniously preach leaving celebrities alone because, I’d be a liar and a hypocrite to do so.
But. And that’s a ‘but’ with a resounding pause after it. There’s always a fine line that you should never cross. You can be a celebrity-obssesed loner with only an oversized shark plushie for a friend, but still have principles. Take Sushmita Sen and Lalit Modi coming out as a couple, for instance. Wade past the, admittedly hilarious, memes and edits, and you’ll arrive at the rotten core of it all that reeks of misogyny.
But is it really a surprise?
Sen’s love life somehow manages to bring out the worst in us, whether it’s the unending discourse (both negative and positive) about her dating a man 16 years younger than her or rumours about her dating a married co-worker.
The actress and former Miss Universe is one of the rare Bollywood celebrities who are fairly open about their private lives, understanding that them being public figures require a certain level of transparency to keep up their end of the skewed parasocial relationships they share with their fans.
So is it fair game for us to target her choices just because she is living her best life out in the open? I don’t think so.
The fact that she is a single mother of two girls with a succesful career seems to rankle most of us.
Beneath the veneer of progressive thinking, we’re all sexist voyeurs who have a lot of free time on our hands. You can deny this all you want but it seems to be the only plausible explanation as to why most of the discussion surrounding her newest relationship involves exasperated confusion and thinly-veiled disgust at her lifestyle choices that dissolves into the conclusion that she must have done this for the money.
It seems like the only explanation that lets everyone get a good night’s sleep because a successful-in-her-own-right woman who has been vocal about the importance of agency in her life is an oddity that has to be shaped and carved into society’s idea of normal for the crops to flourish and sun to shine brighter.
The presentation of the unwanted title of ‘Gold Digger’ by the public led the actress to veer away from her own vow of not giving in to the speculations about her love life, and give the public a dressing down in the form of a long note accompanying a photo of herself in an infinity pool to show that while we’re stuck spending hours talking and judging a virtual stranger’s life, she is out there living her best life.
The Aarya actress said, “It’s heartbreaking to see just how miserable & unhappy the world around us is becoming….The so called intellectuals with their idiosyncrasies….the ignorant with their cheap & at times funny gossip. The friends I never had & the acquaintances I’ve never met….all sharing their grand opinions & deep knowledge of my life & character…monetising the ‘Gold Digger’ all the way!!! Ah these geniuses!!! (sic)”
She added, “I dig deeper than Gold…and I’ve always (famously) preferred Diamonds!! And yes I still buy them myself!!! (sic).”
So can we leave Sushmita Sen alone and focus on other important stuff like the fact that we’re just tiny dots on a giant rock that is a small part of a gigantic galaxy with a literal black hole at the center of it?
Get some persepective and spiral into an existential crisis like the rest of us. You’re welcome.