'Talented' Ms. Haasan

If you're not someone who follows all the 'special columns' in mainstream (Indian) newspapers and tabloid sites religiously, it's not that hard to be oblivious of Shruti Haasan's existence. But some of my friends aren't as fortunate. It’s aggravated further if they happen to be in the same 'batch' and went to a similar school as she -- one of those upscale vidhyalaya types located in that part of the city where it's easy to find a coffee shop than parking space.

While talking to one of them, she expressed disbelief and frustration over the kind of attention she's been getting from "all directions." She said how bad she was (at singing) at school and how nobody cared -- suggesting that she's not any better now but somehow the reception has reversed. I wasn't sure if that is the case. I checked couple of her 'performances' in YouTube and my friend was right: Shruti Haasan cannot sing. The good news, however, is that at least half of the people who commented didn't sound all that impressed.

If she sucks so bad why do the mainstream observers, especially men, seem to be entranced by her 'talent'? Well, because "she's hot." Let's suspend our subjectivities on both counts -- her musical prowess and her sex appeal -- and see exactly what that means and how those two things come together.

Sexual objectification and its consumption usually leans on some kind of perversion after a point. Here, perversion is not a debatable entity. No matter where one's moral compass stands, sexual fantasies are often predicated on some kind of perversion from that point. Where some kind of transgression takes place.

Even though there is plenty of free porn available in the internet -- with a lot of 'beautiful', 'hot' women -- why do people seem to be obsessed with "nipple slips" and cleavages of some celebrity? Because, they have already been mentally undressed by a part of their consumers. They're just curious whether their fantasy matches the reality. It's particularly misogynistic when the consumer is a man and the consumed is a woman. Because, a talented woman is superior to the man in question by virtue of their emplacement in the equation. So he brings her stature down by objectifying her sexually -- a common, uncomplicated tactic. The society has already sanctioned a prejudiced morality and status for sex for the genders. It's the reason why almost all curse words, transcending language barriers, invariably invoke a woman's sexual discipline. So when they say "she's hot" they ascribe other not so desirable characteristics too (that of a slut etc.).

Ms. Haasan's case is also a tad bit different. Someone who may very well be just another light-skinned, lanky lass has been credited with talent and aptitude barely discernible by most of us.Again, why?

Consumption is invariably hinged on the symbolic sign associated with what's consumed. Any object that is beyond the most basic human needs (such as hunger) is bound to become a sign in order to be consumed. Without these signs it's impossible to establish the difference between objects; to get/form a sense of uniqueness about anything (Baudrillard).

So Ms. Haasan may be light skinned and lean -- a conforming sign that fits a common sexual ideal -- but how is she unique? Besides, does she have to be unique? That's dependent on how particular you are about your sexual fantasies. For those who do, she has to be unique and 'different' from the rest of the pack. For this, her eyes, nose, hair, and, of course, cleavage may not suffice. Our dear male may have difficulty in putting them together as a unique sign. That's where 'talent' comes to the rescue. It's a safe refuge to preserve their sense of taste and nuance. They're not the shallow men whose penile reservoirs swell at the mere sight of cleavage, it takes serious talent to turn them on. It's only a coincidence that she's 'hot'.

For Indian television that is preoccupied by movies and movie personalities, Ms.Haasan makes for a nutritious fodder. Her relationship with the tabloids and their existence is almost as basic as food and hunger. And given how much our own lives are tabloidized, this bland soup will be 'hot' for a while.


Anonymous said...

People watching Shruti only because her father is a popular (many feel he's very talented) figure. I don't think people see her because she is 'hot'. They see Kamal partly in her.

Prasad Venkataramana said...

I agree with your analysis on a broad scale. But do you think an average TN male movie goer cares to attribute a symbolic value in order to claim himself a fan? 'Talent' (your quotes) is a non-entity. By supporting the likes of Mantra & Namita, he has made it clear that the producers can clearly disregard the 'talent' factor. I have seen high school kids perform better than them. Otherwise Urvasi would be a bit more popular and Trisha a little less. A discussion within the confines of Tamil cinema heroines' popularity should be limited to sex appeal. Anyone who attaches their acting prowess to their boobs so that she may come in his bathroom dreams is plainly deluded. Shruthi Haasan's 'surge' in popularity is because of her looks and she just so happens to croon and shake her legs.

Sambavi said...

Oh! half of the people who commented didn't sound all that impressed, then we should lick their noesis. Indeed.
check the comments too, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgglebNx1FI&feature=related

Anonymous said...

I get the sexual fantasy thing. It goes both ways, though the female counterpart is rightly underexposed, at least in Asia. That would break the societal equilibrium. But does the broader generalization work here? We know that Shruthi has no talent. That her stage, at least at present, is merely due to lineage and novelty. But merely propelling her as a sex symbol for Tamil men, directly reinstates that Tamil men accept rejects like Vijaykanth, Rajnikanth, Murali, Dhanush or a Vishal, due to their knowledge that these men are quite as inferior, as far as physical attraction is concerned, as them? For true or not, Tamil men have been given the wonderful slot of being darkskinned rascals?... Yes, never mind that none on the list are Tamil. But the essence of the argument fails in such a case.

Sruthi is there due to her lineage and the lack of better meat for the media. I think all other factors would apply to all females(or males) that are attractive. Do the men like her? Sure. But I have never heard otherwise in this equation? Would any women say no to fantasizing about Tom Cruise at 25?


Anonymous said...

Couldn't help but wonder how a bad singer can sing for Ilayaraja (part of Nee Partha Paarvaikku) , A. R. Rahman (part of Vidai Kodu Engal Naade) and Harris Jeyaraj (Varanam Aayiram)?

Anonymous said...

Couln't help wondering how Ilayaraja himself tortures us with his singing:-) A.R.Rahman introduced the likes of Udit Narayanan(granted, good singer in his own right) to Tamil and numerous others(untrained) in the name of raw voices. Harris Jeyaraj... is he even worthy to be mentioned alongside two giants like Raja and Rahman(surprised)!

If a bad actor can become a superstar(aka Vijay), I am sure Kamal's daughter will find some space in Tamil cinema, if not Indian.

I am still trying to figure out what Ms. Rajnikanth #2 and Ms. Kamal Hassan #1, have done to be such media darlings. Only people I know so far, to win awards with hardly, if any, output.


sweety said...

fantasy never matches reality..waz my project topic..

regarding shruthi,
i think she is utilizing the chance given.i think there r few ppl who r really talented than her..i dint like the interview of her..she seems to talk abt a subject widout experiencing it n i dont blame her coz she is just the "answering machine".i blame the person who questioned her..
i lost the fantasy abt cinema n its industry..c when i was 10 yrs old..i used to love cinemas..for few reasons
1.variety of clothes
2.can visit many places
3.appearing on tv
4.n being famous
n now dat am 20 ..i realise dhe truth behind the pretty wall..n dats the only reason i pity few pretty girls working in this field..they r in a point n not understanding the fact that ppl r behind then coz of their beauty n glamor n not talent..n they wud b thrown out of industry after being used by many hungry voracious men..this note doesn mean dat i hate this field..but i feel bad so much once a while..when hey project themselves dhe otherway..n moreover,beauty is for a shortwhile like men behind,,
this era makes me forget my ethics often n more over..it makes me believe the wrong path very optimistically..
MR.S ,
u seem to b much interested in symbols n literature as far my understanding..try this tale"Little Red Riding Hood"..it has so much indepth meaning ..

n do watch a movie called "fashion"hindi movie..


Prasad Venkataramana said...

Velakkenna, nallenna, mannenna Pakistan thotha enakkenna.

Anonymous said...

I think

Post a Comment

©2009 english-tamil