TW: Mentions of queerphobic/homophobic/transphobic language.
The Indian LGBTQIA+ community has expressed extreme shock at content creator Carryminati recently. In his video, now taken down by Youtube for violating guidelines, he was celebrated for being homophobic and transphobic in the name of “roasting”. More than a few Indian YouTubers and internet comedians have been known for using crass language and misogynistic comments as jokes. Carryminati and Lakshay Chaudhary, two big names on the internet with an almost cult-like following, have often been heard using problematic language in the name of humor.
Carryminati, or Ajey Nagar, roasted TikTok content creators in his deleted videos. “Pussy” and “meetha” were used to ridicule the content, while defending YouTube. Queer people have been subjected to the term “meetha” when being bullied for their identity. It is the equivalent of “fa***t”. “Mithai ki dukaan pe le jaaunga toh 200 rupay me bik jaaega” (If I take you to a sweet shop, you will be sold for a price of 200) was a popular “roasting comment” used in the video. This comment equates societally effeminate men to an item for sale while also using bullying terms. However, the queer community is being shut down when expressing their disdain towards this comment. A few years ago, a majority of sensible and educated Indian population expressed disgust towards a defense lawyer of Nirbhaya rape case when he equated women to a box of sweets that must be protected. Why is the same treatment not directed towards the queer community? Why is a queer person’s objectification passed off as a ‘joke’?
The sweet box analogy is used to justify rape (something which cannot be justified in any scenario) and also used to bully people for their sexuality, gender and choice of expression.
Ajey further ridiculed a content creator’s manliness because they used “#skirt” as a way to garner likes. He said, “Tumse zyada mard mujhe Deepak Kalal lagta hai” as if he has been given the power to dictate Deepak or the content creator’s manliness. Men have been forced to behave and exist in a strict structured way due to patriarchy. They are not allowed to express themselves in whatever way they want because it would harm their “manliness”. This is also a homophobic attack on Deepak Kalal, a troll on the internet who is ridiculed for not being “masculine enough”.
Finally when LGBTQIAP+ activists like Rishi Raj spoke against this bullying, the video was taken down by YouTube for violating community guidelines. However, the aforementioned cult-like following did not let the win be celebrated. Rishi, along with others, was bullied and harassed by Carryminati’s followers. Death threats and higher usage of slurs was directed at people who expressed their opinions against the trending roast. Even in the comment section of his recent Instagram post, Carryminati’s followers are asking him to repost the video on Instagram since the platform is known for more lenient guidelines and are making jokes on the “chakka gang”. A dig at the transgender community, even going as far as saying “chakkon ki bad dua lag gayi” (those transgenders’ bad wishes acted through).
Many are justifying this behaviour by asking the community to “learn how to take a joke” and such jokes are appropriate in roasts. Allow me to state my point, heteros. The best comedy movie ever made in Bollywood is Andaz Apna Apna and despite being made in the 90s, the movie does not have any jokes made on the expense of people’s identities. Do you know which movies have those kind of “jokes”? Masti franchise, Mastizaade and Kya Kool Hain Hum franchise. If your level of comedy is twins named Deshdrohi and Deshpremi then I don’t think you deserve the audience that you have.
A roast is Hasan Minhaj joking about Donald Trump’s failed business ventures while the man was labelled as someone who would give jobs to Americans.
A bullying attack is calling an individual “chakka”, “meetha”, “aurat” or “gay” as an insult. Not only are you using slurs that have lead members of the community to commit suicide but also insinuating that being a gay, trans, gender fluid person or a woman is something that is an insult. As if having these identities makes them less of a human being. It’s problematic, insensitive and shows just how shallow your humour level really is.
A sorry-not-sorry to creators who are now whining that the community is calling out their homophobic and misogynistic humor. If it takes an entire community to list atrocities just so you understand that someone’s identity, trauma and sexuality is not a joke then you are the problem, not us. Lakshay Chaudhary, with his 8 lakh subscribers, stated how everybody gets offended at roasts and that these “jokes” are not a reflection of his real-life opinions.
So you use the queer community to build an audience, sir? How can one post content that they themself don’t find funny? It sounds like a backpedalling statement, Mr. Chaudhary.
Youtube has recently taken the video down after the backlash it faced, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. The video has gained enough traction for it to be recorded and uploaded by the fans and followers of the creator.
It took 71 years after independence for us to get the Supreme Court to say that our existence is not a criminal offence. So no, we are not going to shut up when you try to bully us. Level up your sense of humour, “comedians”, we are not jokes.