TikTok vs Youtube: Is Indian roasting culture only reduced to cyberbullying and harassment?
Here is how the TikTok vs YouTube issue has concealed the real problematic issues surrounding the roasting which involves smearing insults ranging from physical attributes to skin color.
In 2018, Tannishtha Chatterjee, an acclaimed Indian actress, arrived on a very popular roasting TV show called Comedy Nights Bachao. The experience turned into a nightmare when the roasters took multiple jibes at her dusky skin color. Miffed and appalled at the blatant display of prejudice she left in the middle of the shoot. In an interview, she said that the roasting is about questioning or making fun of the power but not the already oppressed/prejudiced.
Very recently, the internet was spurred with the controversy of TikTokers vs YouTubers. It started with a YouTuber bashing TikTok for its frivolous content and then a TikToker reciprocating with a video reply. Carryminati, a prolific Youtuber, roasted a famous tiktoker Amir Siddhique. The video got an unprecedented response with 76 million views while the subscriber count of the young Youtuber doubled to 17 million. The video also had some comments on physical attributes and the LGBTQ community that were discriminatory in nature. This propelled many other YouTubers to resort to roasting Amir. Amir alleged Carry for cyberbullying and the YOUTUBE, abiding by its guidelines, had to remove the video. However, the fans of the Youtuber got outraged with the action and started trending the #JusticeForCarry. It is quite astonishing to note that nobody from the audience questioned the extent to which one should be roasted.
It all started when people started pitting youtube against TikTok. But, it is unfair to place both these digital platforms in the same brackets. YouTube is an American video-sharing platform that allows users to upload, view, rate, share, like videos, and subscribes channels. It offers a wide range of content from small video clips to long documentaries of all backgrounds. However, the average length of a youtube video is 10-15 minutes. On the contrary, TikTok is a short video app whose average videos are just 15 seconds long. Unlike youtube, most of the videos on TikTok consists of entertaining content that doesn’t require much research and is often deemed as cringe. Hence, slotting them in the same box doesn’t make any sense.
However, this Chinese app has gathered great momentum in the Indian market with more than 119 million active users. According to a report by Sensor Tower, TikTok was installed 323 million times in India in 2019. The app currently in India has more than 200 million users while TikTok India Head Nikhil Gandhi told Financial Times that they are all set to cross the 300 million mark by the end of 2020. According to Scroll.in, Indian users have been spending daily over 30 minutes on TikTok which supersedes Instagram and Snapchat. Hence, the app is taking over the large Indian market from its rivals.
With so many people using the platform, this incentivizes people to create their own content that doesn’t require any other equipment in no time. Hence, the majority of its users come from the rural areas who have a lack of resources. So, imagine the kind of trauma these marginalized go through when they are mocked for their lack of resources, sexuality, or features by the privileged. Patri Wale, Bihari, sabji wale, etc are the very common slurs hurled in the roast videos. In a famous roasting youtube channel called ‘Triggered Insaan’, the roaster with 4.43 million subscribers mocked a tiktoker who cross-dresses in his videos. The entire video sees him laughing at the person and in the end redeems himself by stating that he is not a homophobe but this terribly failed when he referred to people like in the video as “Meetha” which is a derogatory term used to shame LGBTQ community. The video has 7.2 million views with 453,000 likes. That is not just one example, youtube is filled with roasting channels mocking and humiliating the marginalized group.
Elvish Yadav, a YouTuber whose roast of TikTok started the controversy, starts his video by mocking the face of a young boy in a TikTok video and referred to it as that of a garbage collector in a street. That was followed by telling the audience how ugly the girls in the following clips were, even compared one girl to “badsurat kiraedaran”(ugly landlady).
We all are equally responsible to propagate such behavior in the name of comedy. It is good to call out bad or cringe content and laugh at it but laughing at someone due to your own prejudice is definitely not acceptable as a part of democracy. These platforms have a greater audience and indirectly we are perpetuating the narrative of ridiculing the lowest common denominator. The fact that nobody from the fence-sitter’s question this is because we have inherited these defamatory ideas and accepted them as common sense.
Talking about the implications of such biases and regressive comments then we must consider the fact that they considered calling someone Bihari, Meetha, or Puncturewala a joke in the very first place. The scarier part of all this fiasco is defending these aggressors as they were the ones harassed. We all stood in solidarity when Pewdiepie passed uncharitable and racist remarks on Indians but this time we chose to stand with the already uplifted bullies in positions of power. It is agreeable the content on Tiktok is addictive and lacks quality but should it justify the bullying being displayed masqueraded as Comedy.
A superhero film in its theatrical run is made for the community viewing experience and a 12-minute roasting video of Carriminati is made for an individual viewing experience. Both nevertheless are entertaining but are the two comparable? Hell No!!!! Then why should we compare Tiktok to Youtube??
And Speaking of Tannishtha whom I mentioned, in the beginning, wrote a profound Facebook post where she narrated her hounding experience in the show describing the content as “regressive and blatantly racist”. Finally, the COLORS TV responded with an apology mentioning that what transpired in the sets was “not a reflection of the Channel’s Philosophy”.
Image Source – Youtube