Saturday Aug 17, 2019
Actor Mehwish Hayat is the latest to slam Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra for her faux celebrity activism, after the Indian actor was criticised far and wide for reacting poorly to being called out for her pro-war tweet by an indignant Pakistani fan at a Beauty Con earlier this month.
Ayesha Malik, a Pakistani, had called Chopra a “hypocrite” during a Beauty Con panel talk in Los Angeles, for tweeting in favour of a war between Pakistan and India during escalating tensions earlier this year.
“I hear you. Whenever you’re done venting. Got it? Done? OK, cool,” Chopra had replied condescendingly, going on to add, "Girl, don't yell, we're all here for love. You're embarrassing yourself.”
Hayat penned an op-ed for CNN titled 'The problem with Priyanka Chopra', where she called out the Bollywood actor for failing to fulfill her responsibility as a celebrity and a United Nations goodwill ambassador.
Chopra’s response “did have the effect of both shining a light on the crisis in Kashmir (despite India's media blackout and food blockade there), and forcing many of us to think about celebrity activism, its uses - and its abuses. Celebrities who act as charity spokespeople should always focus on humanitarianism. Chopra - again, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador - should not be using her voice to legitimize a regime opposed to the values she claims to represent,” Hayat wrote.
The 'Load Wedding' star went on to say, “Celebrity activism often escapes the kind of scrutiny most political activism is subjected to. It is often seen as either positive or pointless - but rarely dangerous.
“Rather than use her position as a US-based celebrity to broaden what it means to be an Indian celebrity, she has fallen into the same jingoistic role that her fellow countrymen are forced to adopt at home.
“It's this kind of failure that tempts many observers to insist that celebrities stay out of politics completely. Just look at the damage those ill-informed starlets can cause, they say, wading into issues they know nothing about. They should shut up and stick to entertaining us - in silence.”
Hayat also revealed her struggles with using influence to unite. “These are issues I have struggled with for years. I'm well known in my native Pakistan and (increasingly) internationally, I have an audience that I can influence. Speaking up as a young woman, and especially as an artist, in Pakistan is not easy, so I have to pick my battles carefully.
"My intention when speaking about women's rights, girls' education, or supporting humanitarian charity work is to unite people - not divide them.
"The only way to do this is to avoid the path of least resistance - populist rhetoric - and focus on the universal humanitarian causes that all sides can agree on.
"This where Priyanka Chopra and others have made a mistake: by lending their name to racism dressed up as patriotism, they have done us all a disservice."
"It is human suffering that those with a platform must focus on," Hayat added.