I was recently watching Nida Yasir’s morning show on ARY where two young girls were invited, who became popular over Facebook for singing one of Justin Bieber’s songs, unparalleled. They are also known by the name “Justin Beebees.”
Muqaddas and Sania, who do not belong to the upper class of Pakistan and are also not well-educated, were appreciated for their beautiful voice but at the same time were treated unfairly as human beings, not just on social media but also in the morning show.
The sisters were stereotyped to be someone who can’t understand English as it is, presumably, the language of the educated and rich class. Hence, their English was made a mockery of and eventually the title “Justin Beebees.”
I was shocked to see how they were being treated on the show. Although you could sense the feeling of that extra attention and care you give to your words when you are dealing with someone who is talented but from a lower class, but who can kill the curiosity?
It was the dream of the girls to travel in a plane and they did travel to Karachi by plane. Nida congratulated them and asked if they took pictures? They replied in the affirmative. What followed was a very usual question i.e. “Are you guys on Facebook?” Nida let out a shocking unexpected laugh upon hearing that the girls used Facebook. It was as if we, as a nation, have compartmentalized our brains into planets where the poor lie on planet Pluto, and are aliens, hence, they cannot understand the language of dwellers of planet Earth.
Then there were questions about their education. I understand that morning shows are informal and uncomfortable questions are asked but what is the point of humiliating someone knowingly? Well, who can erase the preconceived notions from our minds?
There was another woman on the show who couldn’t contain her curiosity of the fact that these girls sang an English song and she wanted to know if they could understand it too.
The worst part was when Nida Yasir made a comment on the hair color of the girls’ mother. Apparently, the mother looked older than the father because of the white streaks in her hair. Nida said: “Both husband and wife should look the same age. Should we do your makeover too?”
I mean, why can’t we mind our own business? If you don’t know about someone’s life, why pass an insensitive comment? If they look happy and are raising their kids well, encouraging them to succeed, why are you ruining their lives merely on the factor of looks?
Maria Meer, another young singer, rejected first by Pakistan Idol and given a haven by Shafqat Amanat Ali was also called to the same morning show.
It was easy to distinguish how, through words, she was reminded constantly about the “changed” look she’ll experience after the makeover and the “confidence” that it would result in.
I am not saying this is the case with every morning show and I have nothing against ARY. Nida is a good host and she is polite and friendly with her guests, the ones mentioned in the article are no exception. My concern here is the negative attitude prevalent in the minds of most of us in Pakistan, our biases and stereotypes against the lower class which definitely need to be fixed.
We, as a nation, want to show our superiority and draw a line between the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated.
I have seen women asking very personal questions from maids. For instance, why do you have so many kids? They extract the whole life story out of them and enjoy it as an amusing time pass. *popcorn time*
Apparently, for us Pakistanis, the poor class is unhygienic, low, feeling-less, dependent and strong.
So it’s alright if you ask your maid to clean the front yard in the cold, as you think she is strong and can take it all.
It’s alright to rip apart her respect by asking embarrassing questions as she is feeling-less.
She cannot dare sit on your sofas or your bed as she is unhygienic.
You are the boss and she is the slave, she should deal with it.
Each and every one of us needs to reflect on our attitudes and behavior towards those who do not hold a very strong social standing in our society. We have to understand that discrimination based on gender, race and social status is not the characteristic of a civilized nation. Equality and justice are basic human rights. Please don’t deprive people of their basics.