Feminichis stand up as ratings go down

As Women in Cinema Collective continues to be targeted online, various stakeholders share their opinions about the downrating campaign.

The online tirade against the Women in Cinema Collective and Parvathy has taken an uglier turn in the past few days with a hatred campaign growing strong every minute. On New Year, the WCC had shared on its Facebook page an article on misogyny in Malayalam cinema, an act that saw immediate repercussions. Social media users were quick to react as they hurled another array of verbal abuses at the Collective members, whom they address as feminichis, and giving a 1-star rating to the page for ‘insulting megastar Mammootty’. Similarly, when the first song of year, ‘Pathungi Pathungi’ from My Story, was released on YouTube, there came thousands of dislikes for this song apparently for the reason Parvathy was in it. Though the article was pulled down from the WCC page, the down-rating attack still continues with 35,000-plus reviews and over 26,000 1-star ratings.

My Story director Roshni Dinaker is sad about the dislike and vitriol campaign. “It is very disheartening. The only thing people are talking about is a statement made by a person. Nobody talks about how differently we have done it and how much effort the actors and technicians have put in. I’m very sad about Shaan Rahman. After the much-lauded ‘Jimikki Kammal’, his song is being degraded. We are being attacked for something that is in no way connected to our movie. I can’t even open my Facebook account. Even my inbox is full of abuses,” she says.

It seems to be an organised attack and not random fans responding to the hurtful article and the actor’s ‘arrogance’. Jiyas Jamal, a lawyer who runs the startup Talk Loud, which engages in social media campaigns, explains how such campaigns work.“People believe that what is shared the most is the truth. When a client approaches us to trigger a campaign, we first get to know what the real issue is, to plan how to counter it. We have a tie-up with around 200 active pages all over Kerala.

“We alert them and they share the content our team creates along with related articles and write ups published on online portals. The rest will be shared and liked by the people and other pages,” he says. Talk Loud, with offices in Kochi and Kozhikode, has a 10-member team in Kochi and several part-time content generators working for them all over Kerala.

Jiyas admits that it was they who offered legal support to Printo, who was arrested for the cyber attack on Parvathy, and bailed him out. “He can’t be called a client of our firm because we did it for free. He couldn’t even afford legal services and we helped him gain support on social media. Yes, what he posted came under defamation, but it wasn’t fair to slap all those charges on him. There were many fans who unleashed a very degrading attack on her,” he says.

Though mass downrating campaign has been seen when the Facebook page of Republic TV and the apps of Snapchat and ScoopWhoop faced the wrath of social media users over many controversies, for the movie industry, it is a new phenomenon. Social media commentator Hiran Venugopalan opines, “It’s a mode of protest and we have seen many of these, but not on an organisational level like this. There’s no other film organisation that is active on social media like WCC, so it can’t be compared with any other entity. However, this rating never affects their activities, though there are people who consider it as an impact.”
On the ‘immature’ dislike campaign too, he feels it can’t do anything to a movie or an actor. “They are trying to show their strength as fans. But it will have no effect on a movie. People will watch the movie if it is good despite any negative campaign. After all, social media users are a very tiny part of the audience crowd. A film like Mayaanadhi could survive such campaigns by running to packed houses even now. If My Story wins over the audience, people will turn up to watch it despite all these slur campaigns,” feels Hiran.

Kasaba director Nithin Renji Panicker too echoed similar views. Though the whole controversy began from the character played by Mammootty in his debut movie, Nithin has no complaints. “I consider her comment as the response of an audience who has all the right to love or hate a movie. It will never affect me or my future movies. My character is a person who talks that way; in fact, all the characters in the movie were rough. And I don’t think I can work on my future projects by keeping certain parameters in mind. Regarding the campaigns, I don’t think it would affect a movie’s prospects. Even when Ramaleela released last year, there was a smear campaign, but it went on to be one of the highest-grossing films of last year. If a film is good, people would watch it,” he says.
Despite the down-rating movement being countered by a 5-star rating campaign with people like litterateur K.R. Meera offering solidarity to the Collective, the WCC explained what went wrong and made it clear that the attacks had little effect on their activities.

Their Facebook post read, “We are well-aware that an FB page rating doesn’t decide the credibility of an organisation. We deleted the online article we shared (written by Anand Kochukudy in DailyO) that had named many major male actors in the industry as there was a wide misunderstanding that it was ours. We deleted it as those opinions were not ours. It was not our intention to hurt anyone’s feelings. Such attacks won’t let us backtrack from our principles or activities (sic).”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
Next Story