Actor Siddharth’s apology to Saina Nehwal, over a crass-sounding tweet by him, came in the form of a social media statement Wednesday. “You will always be my champion,” he wrote to the badminton champion. “Honestly.” The Rang De Basanti actor further identified himself as a feminist ally, elaborating that the apparent joke he tried to crack over a tweet she made was not “good” and “didn’t land.”
“I may disagree with you on many things but even my disappointment or anger when I read your tweet cannot justify my tone and words. I know I have more grace in me than that,” he added. Read more here.
The blunder and apology formula comes from a common blueprint famous personalities have, of late, been borrowing from heavily. For words that are allegedly misconstrued or jest that carries a snarky tone or old forgotten facepalm utterances that are dug out again, there is always the ever-reliant, ‘Sorry, I didn’t mean it,’ for stars to turn to.
How does one sift through the heap of face-saving PR stunts to discern what’s authentic? When actors issue apologies, what markers define whether or not they really mean it? Should their words always be taken with a pinch of salt?
Siddharth Apology To Saina Nehwal: Rare Sense Of Accountability
Siddharth’s apology statement is of a kind not often seen in the celebrity world. It does include the usual justification about the words exchanged being without malice but also goes beyond in a rare show of taking accountability for his actions.
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The issue regards a sharp retort Siddharth made on Twitter after Nehwal expressed concern for Prime Minister Narendra Modi following a security breach during his visit to Punjab ahead of the state elections. The actor in response to Nehwal made an allusion to “cock” that many on social media perceived as a sexually charged remark. Read about the controversy here.
Nehwal, a former world no. 1 title holder, responded with cool grace and restraint to the whole situation. And when Siddharth apologised, she accepted it without much fuss or retort.
“He said something about me first and then apologised. I don’t even know why it went so viral… You should not target a woman like that. It is okay. I am not bothered about it. I am happy in my place… Happy that Siddharth has apologised… God bless him,” Nehwal said Wednesday after Siddharth’s apology.
Siddharth’s apology comes against the context of the National Commission for Women (NCW) taking cognisance of the matter.
The actor has long held place, and self-described himself, as a feminist standing up for issues that concern women both within and beyond the film industry. So naturally, people expected him to do better than he did. The presumption is always that feminist men are conscious of ingrained oppression that is reserved for women and thus, in a bid to be true allies, attempt to balance out their end of patriarchal privilege.
But can the mere proclamation of being a feminist without unwavering, unbiased action have any worth? Does that identity shield one from liability? It’s easy to say one is a staunch feminist and then, wittingly or unwittingly, play into the normative gender microaggressive or blatantly abusive behaviour.
Does that mean they will be let off the hook? Absolutely not. All feminists who fault deserve to be called out.
Social media has doubled the scrutiny directed at celebrities and none can expect to be let off without the accountability in their dues. 2021 saw media personalities big and small being brought to book for a shocking barrage of casteist slurs, said without knowledge, or so they claimed.
With the kind of following and public sway they enjoy, each of their pronouncements is forever set in stone. Prudent speech and conscious sensitivity then become basic requirements. And really, being unabusive is the most rudimentary, unconditional essence of being a kind person.
There’s also the apology. An honest one comes without ifs and buts, so Siddharth’s apology could, if it really wanted to, have stopped about midway in the letter. It would have been complete. But an apology was necessary and hopefully will be a standing reminder to the actor, and all others, of their words, even if said virtually, not being without consequence.
Views expressed are the author’s own.