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Saturday, February 17, 2024

Are celebrities right to defend their absence from General Elections’18?

News Desk |

Hum TV’s decision to hold the awards during the General Election in Canada recently sparked a lot of controversies. Social Media and several celebrities criticized Hum TV and the celebrities who chose to attend the award show in Toronto instead of participating in the G.E’18. The celebrities, who delayed their flights in order to poll their votes, expressed their disappointment in their co-stars.

These included; singer turned actor Farhan Saeed and frequent Hum TV actor Imran Abbas, who condemned the Award show for being held at this time. In their defense, HUM TV management and the actors stated that the plan for the awards to be hosted on this date was set even before the election date was announced. However, this explanation has not been enough to quell the storm of naysayers.

Why the awards ceremony is being held in Toronto and not in Pakistan is another issue, since I refuse to believe hosting the awards show abroad is going to improve Pakistan’s image internationally in any way.

But this incident has effectively highlighted the importance of why celebrities matter and how they are failing us. Some actors who chose to attend the awards ceremony have blamed contractual obligations as the reason for missing out the elections. Actress Mahira Khan took to Instagram, posting an image of a Pakistan flag, turned off comments and wrote:

Read more: Mahira Khan, HUM TV offers clarification over elections’18 controversy

“As much as I want to be there tomorrow, it is unfortunate that I cannot be. There was absolutely no way to delay my work commitment which was scheduled months in advance, I tried my best. And so with a heavy heart, I will not be voting this year. I urge all of you to get out and vote!! May this year bring the change we all have been waiting to see…”

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bln-gxqH3Cv/?hl=en&taken-by=mahirahkhan

Other celebrities claimed that many Pakistanis, probably, missed out on voting due to similar work issues. They defended themselves by stating that they are regretful for missing out an important event but work commitments were already made, and instead of targeting them Pakistanis should raise fingers at those who did not vote despite being in Pakistan.

Hania Amir is another example, who in a recent interview to the channel was urging the youth to go out and cast their votes on 25th of July, yet missed the G.E’18 by flying out to Canada for the award ceremony.

https://www.facebook.com/dawndotcom/videos/10160731256330442/

By defending their actions, the celebrities seem to be willfully ignoring the fact that their behavior has an impactful influence on their followers. Celebrities by definition aren’t like ‘common’ people and every decision they make is (and should be) with the public in mind. If the A-list celebrities are seen partying in Canada and blowing off elections, they’re setting a pretty poor example for the legion of fans who look up to them, many of them young and easily influenced.

Read more: Celebrities join hands to support election campaign of Jibran Nasir

Ahmed Ali Butt in his Instagram post stated, “Trust me no one wants to make a 19 hour flight to Canada to party, we all work very hard to be where we want to be and Allah ka Shuker hay have seen more places than you so “Itnay maar nahi rahay hum log bahir janay kay leya”

This is all made worse when politically active celebrities like Hamza Ali Abbasi are seen endorsing their behavior.

Hamza Ali Abbasi’s refusal to acknowledge Hum TV’s erroneous mistake most likely stems from the fact that his upcoming movie is backed by the very studio, so he would rather stay mum or rather change the narrative, as he did by implying that the show was actually a good thing.

Read more: Twitter erupts as QB calls Imran an ‘a**hole’

To his credit, Hum TV endorsing the country in any way is a great thing. But if by hosting the awards show, they are depriving the who’s who of Pakistani film and TV industry from doing their civic duty, then the network is being more hypocritical than anything and is certainly not beneficial to Pakistan in any way

Why the awards ceremony is being held in Toronto and not in Pakistan is another issue, since I refuse to believe hosting the awards show abroad is going to improve Pakistan’s image internationally in any way. To be clear, this isn’t a dig at any particular actor or even network, but rather me expressing my frustration over the way our entertainment industry as a whole functions and thinks.

The celebrities, who delayed their flights in order to poll their votes, expressed their disappointment in their co-stars. These included; singer turned actor Farhan Saeed and frequent Hum TV actor Imran Abbas, who condemned the Award show for being held at this time

Just a couple of weeks ago, Hamza Ali Abbasi made a truly alarming statement that made me question whether celebrities should even be political. Speaking to Images, the actor when asked what he would do if he was PM for a day, chose to say:

“What I would do if I was PM for a day is that I would hang-ooorrr possibly shoot all the log jo bari corruption karte hain [people who commit large-scale corruption]. Un ko firing squad ke saamne khara kar ke un saaro ko goliyan marwaooga.” [I would line them up in front of a firing squad and have all of them shot.]”

Read more: Farhan’s “Ab sirf Imran Khan” rocks the internet

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard statements like this many a times from various politicians locally and abroad, but just imagining kids hearing words and getting inspired them unsettled me. Like I’ve stated before, actors nowadays have the ability to influence youngsters and in the age of social media, this is made possible by a click of a button. And so, an actor casually endorsing violence, in any form, just goes to show how inept our “icons” are at realizing just how much power and influence they wield and the ramifications of misusing that.

Seeing actors in voting ballots would have served to remind the fans and admirers of the importance of voting, would have inspired our youth to step out and play their part in shaping the future of Pakistan. But as it stands, our actors don’t seem too interested in using their platform for good and that’s a damn shame.