Priyanka Chopra has always been known to be a strong-minded and bold actress, who does not hold back. Last week Pantene used Priyanka to convey a very important message: #GoGentle on social media. After all, we are human. We have feelings. We get hurt. And celebrities are no different.
#GoGentle, patterned on Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘Celebrities Read Mean Tweets’ was launched on April 18 with a video featuring Chopra who admitted to being ‘a little nervous’ before reading the tweets and Instagram comments. The first comment she reads out is “I would call Priyanka fish-lipped, but I don’t want to insult the fish”. Oops! Not very nice, but Priyanka stays calm. In fact she laughs off the comment. The next comment follows, “Why are the fashion police ragging on Priyanka’s Golden Globes dress? Its her lips and hair that should be arrested”. Priyanka still holds her own. Stays calm. Stays composed.
The music changes, and so does the tonality of the messaging. Chopra reads, “You’re irreplaceable”. Hmmm… Priyanka brightens up somewhat. “Priyanka Chopra is CGI … nobody looks that good”. Priyanka has a smile starting to dance on the same lips that had just been condemned a little while ago. Priyanka even manages a laugh. “My daughter says her two heroes are Michelle Obama and Priyanka Chopra”. Surprise shows in Priyanka’s eyes, so does delight. She cannot obviously believe what she has just read. She goes on to say, “This is what the internet is meant for. Being harsh shows insecurities. Being harsh shows weakness. So I definitely think gentle is so much stronger. When so much harshness in the world, all the more reason to go gentle”.
Priyanka has been a victim of trolling on more than one occasion. Her ‘photoshopped’ armpits on a magazine cover invited a lot of negative social media comments. She finally had to post another picture of hers showing that in real life too her armpits are as smooth! The controversy around her meeting Prime Minister Modi in a dress that showed off her legs, was more vitriolic with the twitter conversations pontificating on ‘sanskars’. So for Priyanka, #GoGentle is reel meet real, in a manner of speaking except that the reel has a happier ending.
Trolling on the net is nothing new. Celebrities have just to say something or wear something or do something that is not in line with popular thinking and common beliefs, and you can be sure that there will be an avalanche of criticism and bad blood on social media.
– Sonam Kapoor also got trolled for her Cannes gown. From raita to roomali roti to bed sheet, her outfit was damned on social media. Sonam finally did shut up her trolls but one can be sure it was not a nice experience.
– Aishwarya Rai invited the ire of the trolls for her purple lipstick on the red carpet at Cannes. From being told she had jamuns to eat to black currant ice cream to a kala khatta gola, Ash received a lot of negative comments for her fashion adventure.
– Shah Rukh who tried to make light of his detention at a US airport saying he caught a few nice Pokemons while waiting, had the twitteratti go ballistic on him.
– Alia Bhatt got badly mauled on social media when she said Prithviraj Chauhan was the President of India. While one can sympathise with the Bollywood beauty, one can also understand why she got trolled so mercilessly for her poor GK.
– During her break up with Virat Kohli for a while, social media piled on to Anushka Sharma for being the reason for his batting failures. It took a valiant Virat to intervene and stop the negative flow on Twitter.
– “Frustation not india lost bcoz of Stuart binny 32 runs over, biggest frustration is he hubby of @MayantiLanger_B”, is how cricket commentator Mayanti Langer was battered on social media. She fought back valiantly but then the damage was already done.
– Dangal actress Fatima Sana Shaikh put out a sizzling pic of herself in a black swimsuit on a beach. Some fans were happy but she mostly got badly slut-shamed for dressing inappropriately during the holy month of Ramzan.
– Abhishek Bachchan who uses the @juniorbachchan handle was actually mocked by trolls for living with his parents! He of course has also faced negative social media about his wife Aishwarya.
The soothing, mellow message from Pantene, #GoGentle, hence is a welcome departure from the negativity of the net. Sadly, any faceless person sitting behind a computer in the shadows of the night can malign and smear any celebrity and bring him or her down to the gutter. The celebrity then has the choice to either join the battle in the trenches (and therefore come down to the level of the troll) or choose to ignore the negativity. Most times ignoring is not a choice.
#GoGentle is a message of peace. Of restraint. Of human goodness.
That #GoGentle also sells the gentle quality of Pantene shampoo is truly incidental in this communication, though the messaging subliminally is strong and relevant.
I love Pantene’s #GoGentle initiative. It has an old world charm in the context of the modern world’s social media that has got heated beyond acceptable levels. If the Pantene message finds its way to the right kind of people, hopefully, the right kind of gentle strokes will emerge on Twitter. It is fine to criticize. It is fine to have a contra point of view. Perhaps it is just not fine to get so very personal and nasty. Yes please, when next on Twitter, #GoGentle.
(Mumbai-based Carol Goyal writes on a variety of subjects.)