Contemporary Artists and Their Unquestionable Freedoms

by mrnovember

Dear Russell Peters,

You think that a roast is just being honest about someone, in front of that someone, and that the AIB knockout was great comedy. To an extent, I agree with the first part of this, sure, and I don’t care what you think of Aamir Khan.

But please, by all means, tell us how this means that a comedian (a real artist according to you) can ‘speak the truth’ about a person’s dark skin by joking about an entire race, about how they were – and are – treated like shit on the basis of their skin colour, about how an epidemic is taking their lives and goes unnoticeable until white people get affected by it. Does it also mean that a comedian can make fun of the sexuality of so many people who are shamed and humiliated by society, because one person on their stage happens to be okay with it? I could go on and on with references.

The political threats, FIRs and the video take-down (in other words, the ban) has seriously messed up this debate, but putting that aside, I really want to know how is it good comedy when you roast one person by actually picking on a huge group of people, who are suffering tremendously because of grave imbalances of power in society. Imbalances that are fuelled by privileges and abuse power. Because this was 90% of the show.

What does this say about the privilege of an artist? Like anyone else, does an artist not have a responsibility towards other people? Freedom of speech and expression should not have limits, but it ought to have responsibility and common sense attached to it.