Millennium Post

Cleavage Times: What’s wrong with TOI!

Cleavage Times: What’s wrong with TOI!
Dear Deepika... we accept your reel VS real argument, but what about all the times, and there have been many, when you have flaunted your body off screen... Yes, the headline could have been better. But the world of online is very different from that of newspapers. It is chaotic and cluttered — and sensational headlines are far from uncommon...’ wrote Priya Gupta, Managing Editor of Bombay Times.

Times of India has been facing a generous amount of flack for a video on their website which runs with the headline - ‘OMG: Deepika Padukone’s cleavage show!’ This is something one can expect from a tabloid Page 1 headline on a very bad day.

Of course sensational headlines are far from uncommon. You know what else is far from uncommon? Stupidity and the incapacity to admit you are wrong and to keep that trap shut.

The magic word isn’t ‘please’, it is ‘consent’. All the lovely and very hot pictures of the actor that you have generously shared with us have her consent. There weren’t photographers there, who in the guise of covering an event, were taking photographs of her cleavage. They weren’t there with hidden cameras but were they there to focus on her breasts? So that’s the memo TOI photographers go out with? We too run a paper here, we too have photographers.

Yes. The online world and the print world are very different. While we too have made ‘hot’ photo galleries and have picked some very sexy images for print stories. Have we encashed the bikini shots? Of course! But here’s what we haven’t done – we haven’t had a red arrow pointing at a pair of breasts screaming ­– OMG cleavage! This isn’t kindergarten. Admit it TOI that for a site that claims to be ‘news and views’, more often than not you have relied on sex to increase your traffic. If that is okay then it is also ok for an actor to hit back and say ‘Enough!’. The article also says that the video has been running for a year. Does TOI realise that this statement makes it seem all the worse?
Priya Gupta writes, ‘Deepika, who began her career as a ‘calendar girl’ for a liquor brand...’ – Deepika could have begun her career as a telephone operator but lack of consent is lack of consent.

If she chooses to make public appearances naked or decides to flash photographers - the operative word here is ‘choice’. Not ‘naked’ and not ‘flash’. ‘Are we going to have a parallel censor board for pictures of film stars taken off screen but in plain sight...’ - yes, we think you should. Unless you have decided to cater to sleaze under the guise of a national newspaper.

Deepika need to not protest every time TOI sells sleaze, she is well within her rights to protest now. It IS her cleavage.

This is equivalent to saying that a girl deserved to be raped because she was dressed ‘indecently’. An actor allowed a photo-op so her cleavage deserved  all the focus. In a world like ours where female body politics is still under massive threat this is in horribly bad taste. And worse still is your lame argument to justify this sleazy business.

‘Deepika, just for the record, we do not zoom into a woman’s vagina or show her nipples. As a newspaper, we take every care to ensure that we pixelate them if they show up in a picture...’ – so that’s where the moral police in TOI gets to work. Cleavage is ok, thank god nipples and vaginas are not - because only those parts need to be covered to protect a woman’s modesty.  

‘Were we expecting integrity from a paper that exemplifies our populist, commercial culture and herd mentality. That gets away saying what it wants. Publishing what it’s paid to. With editors tamely reporting to marketing CEOs has best-selling author Chetan Bhagat writing on the state of Indian economy and politics in the Sunday Oped page. So think. Think twice. And look deeper. At who WE are, outside of Facebook and Twitter. This virtual space where it’s easy to come out as a hero. When honestly, the real war hasn’t even started!’ says author Sreemoye Piu Kundu.

This isn’t about a catfight between one of India’s top actors and India’s ‘leading’ daily. This is much, much more than that.

Jhinuk Sen

Jhinuk Sen

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