The Shubham Mishra episode highlights a very problematic trend of how an increasing number of netizens in our country have been consuming mindless content over the internet in recent times.
Shubham Mishra, who happens to be a self-proclaimed influencer, got arrested for giving death and rape threat to a stand-up comedian Agrima Joshua who, in one of her stand-up acts a year ago, spoke about some comments published on Quora on the statue of Maharaja Chhatrapati Shivaji.
The events that led to Mishra’s arrest have become a usual affair in today’s context — a comedian makes a joke on a revered personality; it doesn’t go down well with a section of people, who resort to spewing online hatred and trolls, and then they amplify all these activities through newly-found representatives such as Shubham Mishra and Vikash Fhatak aka ‘Hindustani Bhau’. These so-called representatives upload their videos on social media, and are often laced with explicit abuses and hatred made in the context of saving the nation.
It would not be appropriate if we put the entire blame of such events on people such as Shubham. He is a ‘content creator’ and every creator becomes popular with the number of views and subscribers he gets. His confidence with which he comes up with such videos can be attributed to the growing number of followers on his social media platforms (his YouTube account has been deleted now).
But why would one consume such mindless and brazenly designed content? Among the many answers to this question, one could possibly be the growing interest in consuming content that is expletive-driven and inflammatory in nature. There are several instances where a YouTube video filled with insane profanity has managed to grab eyeballs despite scoring low in content.
In sociolinguistics, “covert prestige” is a scenario in which nonstandard languages or languages spoken in an informal manner grab more attention than anything made in an official way. This seems to be the case with the creators of this generation — they convey the same message in a very informal way and voila, it clicks with their viewers. Most of the time, it has been seen that people who use swearing words in their speeches are found to be more likeable in our society.
Unlike in the West, when A-list actors in our entertainment industry use the F-word or abusive words against mothers and sisters on any OTT platform, it instantly amuses the viewers, as much it surprises them. Speaking out cuss words loudly, without a beep, had never been the case in India until the advent of OTT platforms, which are yet to come under the ambit of censorship.
In the absence of censorship, creators such as Shubham Mishra or Vikas Fhatak aka ‘Hindustani Bhau‘ have found a leeway to reap the maximum benefit. They include a barrage of cuss words in their videos, which eventually has proven to be a unique selling point to gain viewership.
While it is perfectly fine for an individual to consume the content they like, the real problem arises when they subconsciously label a creator an influencer for no reason. Today, our public discourse has become ill-informed, and a WhatsApp forward is considered more authentic than anything else. This is providing a pathway for such contents to leave an impact.
According to a news report by Ahmedabad Mirror, Shubham Mishra has not completed his higher secondary school education. Police officials found that he doesn’t have a source of income either.
It is deeply problematic how these creators are leveraging a certain wave of majoritarian status quo to further their interests. Different keywords are used to evoke a sense of unity and inflict a culture of us vs them. It is high time we condemn such content, self-regulate ourselves, and refrain from watching it.