When I came across AIB for the first time in 2014, I was impressed. A group of young people who made funny and well-edited videos had become celebrities overnight, so there were enough reasons to be impressed. But it did not take much time to realize that there was something seriously wrong with this bunch of people. As the liberal heartthrob Barack Obama once famously said, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.” (It so happens that Obama’s quote makes perfect sense in this context. It wasn’t aimed at any member of AIB.)
Over the last four years, these men became vital cogs in the liberal ecosystem of the country. Their stature grew, and mainstream pop-culture embraced them. Their faces and their works were bombarded on consumers from rooftops. But as thy rose the ranks, the filth they harbored within them began surfacing gradually. Over the last few days especially, certain dark and disturbing traits which were systematically suppressed for a long time, have emerged for everyone to see. One would have to be off their rocker if they still look up to these men. But here are five of AIB’s qualities which you should know about, before you make the same mistake I made in 2014, and start appreciating and admiring them.
AIB has never shied away from taking up socio-political issues. Indeed, speaking truth to power has been considered as one of the mandates of comedians. Most comedians are selective about the issues they take up, and like any of us, they have the right to have ideological inclinations. But AIB has taken this selectivity to a whole new level, because their selectivity stems from cowardice. AIB takes on the weak. AIB mocks people who will never fight back. And when it’s time to take on people who won’t take their jokes kindly, they look the other way.
This was evident when they buckled under pressure after the ‘roast’ that they conducted. Lofty principles such as freedom of expression, which on other days would be principles to die for, were thrown into the garbage as they made their way to meet the archdiocese of Bombay. This was followed by an apology for hurting religious sentiments. The incident did not stop them from continuing to hurt religious sentiments. The only difference was that the mockery and the disdain were reserved for certain special religions. Because if they wanted to continue being poster-boys of the liberal ecosystem, it was perhaps unwise to get into the Vatican’s bad books. And forget making fun of the religion of peace, for who wants another Charlie Hebdo?
AIB has often been accused of plagiarism. From simply lifting off content from smaller pages and handles, to lifting off content from well-known international television shows, social media has pointed out such instances on several occasions.
— The Irked Indian (@TheIrkedIndian) May 17, 2016
How Ironical AIB used to make fun on plagiarism. In fact their show is a ditto of John Oliver's show. Lolwa @thetanmay
— Varun Sharma (@LogicalHindu_) November 1, 2015
Even if we were to give them the benefit of doubt, and to accept the fact that people make the same jokes sometimes, it doesn’t absolve them since one of their members (now a former member) thinks plagiarism isn’t wrong. He even furnishes a cultural justification for it. What is worrisome is the mindset- that one is free to steal the works of others and to project it as their own.
We plagiarise not because we think we'll get away with it but because we think there's nothing wrong with plagiarising. Because it's so deeply entrenched in our culture and ergo our psyche. A part of me also thinks that you can't have a 5000 year old religion of original thought.
— Utsav (@Wootsaw) October 1, 2018
This was also apparent when a former intern took to Twitter, and asked them to pay her dues. That a group of young and successful people, who have millions of subscribers and a thriving setup that provides them with various sources of income would use people’s labor without compensating them as agreed upon, is disgusting. Imagine the plight of these people: working hard for well-reputed, famous people and being left high and dry, with no means to bring them to book apart from social media.
hey @thetanmay none of the unpaid interns have received that call you had promised two weeks ago.
— okurrrr (@4ngery) September 26, 2018
I’m terrified. I was terrified when I called them out for not paying interns, I’m terrified when I think about all the times I tried to speak out, I will be terrified if these men still hold power if I want to venture into their industry.
— okurrrr (@4ngery) October 5, 2018
Streaks of perversion were visible throughout their rise. Many of their jokes were downright crass and sexist, often about rape and pedophilia. (I’m not being judgmental here, I’m just saying it as it is.) In their earlier podcasts, of which many are now unavailable on the internet, they allegedly objectified women routinely. Some of the most well-known women achievers of the country were not spared, so one can only imagine the sort of respect they have for other women.
Did you forget the podcast you did with @thetanmay and other AIB members where you all were talking about Jerking off to Saina nehwal pics and commenting on Sania Mirza's assets? You and every of you is responsible for normalizing creepy behavior towards women on Internet https://t.co/0zMgzzLS1q
— Squint Neon (@squintneon) October 5, 2018
Woke feminist Tanmay Bhat and Khamba proclaiming "bar dancer" Manyata Dutt to be a slut in their Podcast(17). May be it's fine for 'woke' people as her husband is a criminal. pic.twitter.com/YeMhzkO3W9
— # (@user_darth) October 5, 2018
Here are some Tweets (and some pictures of deleted tweets) which give us a peak into their minds and their worldview:
Have discovered Snapchat. Dick pics for everybody!!!
— Rohan (@mojorojo) May 4, 2014
YES EVERYONE PICKING UP ON THAT, I WAS SUGGESTING THAT IF SEX WASN'T STIGMATISED, RAPE WOULD BE FUCKING AWESOME & A TOTAL PARTY FOR EVERYONE
— Rohan (@mojorojo) March 13, 2012
Hey can we all tag @sonamakapoor and tweet this.👇👇
— Ninja Chacha-HMP ✊ (@chacha_ninja) October 4, 2018
But for all those who thought this was simply debased humor that the group used in their videos or on social media, the revelations from earlier this week must have come as a shocker. It was revealed by a woman who had worked with them in the past that one of their members had sent her lewd pictures and made advances against her wish. Many others came out with their stories after that, and it is quite clear now that this individual is a serial offender.
It is one thing to make an error in judgment and associate yourself with a harasser. It is quite another not to act on it after you come to know of his ways. This is exactly what AIB did- absolutely nothing. This makes them enablers. Instead of standing with the victim and fighting for her, instead of doing the right thing, they simply tried to brush it under the carpet. AIB and other like-minded comedians like Kunal Kamra have admitted as much.
A statement ; We're sorry pic.twitter.com/Lpa9HKyORb
— All India Bakchod (@AllIndiaBakchod) October 5, 2018
— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) October 5, 2018
Why this lack of transparency? Did they refuse to call Utsav out because it would damage their credibility? Or perhaps the credibility of their liberal ecosystem? Apparently, those were the very reasons. In their own words, “And so we let our cognitive biases do the work our critical faculties should have.”
One just cannot get enough of their double standards. This is the group that came up with memes about how cows were safer than womenin India. Yeah, they would know for sure. To foster and enable lecherous scum, and to be at the forefront of every feminist cause at the same time, is how their depraved fraudulence has operated. And believe it or not, this group was actually running a ‘Character Development Workshop’!
Don't worry momma pic.twitter.com/3d2e5stfnB
— All India Bakchod (@AllIndiaBakchod) June 22, 2017
— Rishi Bagree 🇮🇳 (@rishibagree) October 5, 2018
However funny and successful they might have been, despite their celebrity status and the huge brand that they built at a young age, it is hard to look up to such people anymore. The cowardice and the hypocrisy be damned, but harassing women is one line you cannot cross.
In the absence of free press in India, comedians are the fourth pillar of democracy.
— Shehla Rashid (@Shehla_Rashid) January 5, 2018
"In the absence of free press in India, comedians are the fourth pillar of democracy." https://t.co/n7Bvpr3NRA
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) June 21, 2018
And those who elevated this den of perverts to the status of ‘fourth pillar’ should perhaps take back their words and introspect their choices. It is time to come together and call AIB out for what it truly is.
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