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A cut below: The controversy over Priyanka Chopra-Nick Jonas wedding

Photo: PTIWho: Last Wednesday, when The Cut, a New York Media-owned digital publication aimed at women, carried a gossipy deconstruction of the Priyanka Chopra-Nick Jonas wedding, its editors likely hoped for a mild surge in traffic. But they underestimated the keenness of the Indian star’s fans, who read the lengthy piece and vociferously called it out for sexism, cultural ignorance, and general vitriol. According to the author, freelance writer Mariah Smith, the celebrity couple’s love affair had been masterminded by Chopra and her team, while Jonas had helplessly played along. “All Nick [Jonas] wanted was a possible fling with Hollywood’s latest It Woman, but instead he wound up staring straight at a life sentence with a global scam artist.” Quickly, even those readers who are not admirers of the two celebrities condemned the article for speculation that was aimed unfairly at Chopra alone. The editors were forced to make changes to the original version and later take it down entirely, with a note of apology: “There is no good explanation for this other than human error and poor judgement.”What: Writer Smith on her website identifies herself as “elitist” and “youth obsessed”, which helps understand inflammatory parts of the article in question. In dissecting and dismissing the couple’s relationship, she pointed to their age difference — Chopra is 36, Jonas is 26 — and to Chopra’s indulgence in expensive things. Smith described the actress as “extra”, a term young millennials use when they mean “dramatic”. The couple’s willingness to mix “sponcon”, or sponsored content, into their wedding also led her to ask a rather philosophical question: “Is (their) love for real?”. Indeed, over the course of their courtship, the couple have name-dropped brands such as Tiffany, Amazon, Lime Bike and Elit vodka. A column in Vox, in turn, observed that such behaviour was in keeping with the marketing landscape of internet influencers: “Chopra and Jonas did what a whole bunch of other celebrities have been doing quietly for years: using the happiest day of their lives to get stuff for free.” Smith’s analysis in The Cut suffered from being West-centric. For instance, her suspicions drew on the facts that the duo had a speedy engagement and a heavily publicised multi-day wedding in Rajasthan that included an elaborate sangeet stage and a bit of horseback riding — quite unexceptional in the context of northern India.How: The lack of awareness about Chopra’s popularity in the Indian subcontinent perhaps contributed to a sense that she was low on cash. Chopra and Jonas were engaged in July and married in December. Many Indian fans wrote to The Cut to say Chopra was the bigger star of the two and that they had been unaware of Jonas until she began dating him. Chopra’s career in Hollywood, by contrast, has been only moderately successful. An effort to launch her as a pop star did not take off. In 2015, around the time when many US shows began seriously aiming to build diverse casts, she landed the lead part in an American Broadcasting Company’s (ABC) Quantico. But the series struggled to maintain viewership and was cancelled earlier this year after three seasons.Where: The episode, which bubbled for a full day online, also highlighted the larger issue of how an appetite for clicks has turned some digital publications into “content mills”. The breakdown of quality control, whereby articles are commissioned generously but not edited closely, is a scam worthy of thinkpieces.
Source: Business Standard