Maya Khan’s side of the story
Almost after a month of Maya Khan’s vigil aunties’ park raid show and viewers & media backlash, Maya Khan was back on TV telling her side of the story. With tears in her eyes, she narrated the ordeal that she and her family had to go though in past thirty days or so. It was her first TV appearance in Kamran Shahid’s Front line since her show (Subah Saverey Maya kay Sath) was taken off-air by Samaa TV due to severe public and media criticism. Her husband Waseem Maulani was also contacted on phone during the show for his reactions on the whole episode. Maya Khan complained that irrespective of what she had done in her morning show, she and her family do not deserve to be humiliated, abused and tormented like that. Well, she got a point there. But most of the criticism and comments made on her show was within the boundaries of etiquettes and decency. The criticism made by the media, bloggers, and tweeps in general was very much objective and focused on her show content. They debated the whole approach of her show, and indicated where she has crossed the line. There was only a segment of general public who posted abusive comments over the internet. But being a media person and veteran actress, she should understand the dynamics of her industry. When she expects her viewers to adore her and treat her like a star, there is a baggage that comes along with it. The abuse that she and her family had suffered is no doubt condemnable, but doesn’t get her off the hook of what she has done. She and her channel had gone too far in their pursuit of ratings without giving much attention to media ethics & social responsibility. Her refusal to apologize unconditionally further fueled the debate and created a pressure on Samaa TV to let her go.
Social Media, Liberals & Civil Society Maya Khan questioned that why did the reaction on her show spurred out only after five days of the said program airing. She pointed fingers to handful liberals, media and civil society activist who, according to her, had launched a vicious campaign against her. But fact of the matter is that the video of her show had gone viral over the internet in couple of days of its airing. The Twitter had gone overboard with tags like #MayaKhan and #BoycottSamaaTV. Many people hooked to Facebook were posting her show’s YouTube links over the following weekend and the word was out. Maya has still not recognized the power of social media. Pakistan has a thriving bloggers scene with growing tweeps on Twitters talking 24/7. This public park raid video was so appalling that many tweeps and bloggers started talking and blogging about it that spread the word spread even further. In her earlier video on Samaa TV, she dismissed the criticism and rejected her detractors by saying she really don’t care what they say or write on internet. And interestingly, this video was probably shot on the following Monday, around a week after the show, when YouTube hits on her show videos were touching their all time high. Well Maya, it seems that their opinion does matters and seems to cost your job. Moral Policing When Kamran Shahid asked her why she was demanding “Nikah-nama” (marriage certificate) from the harassed couples and how would she feels if the same was demanded from her. In her defense, she provided a ridiculous justification that her wedding pictures are already available over the internet and everybody knows about them, so she doesn’t need to carry any Nikah-nama. Well, by that definition, any couple who want to go out on a date or anything should be famous, first of all, and their pictures should be well spread over the internet so that no one can dire ask them about their relationship. Really silly Maya! How do you expect someone with a sane mind to guzzle down this absurdity? She didn’t reply to Kamran’s question that who had given her right to question anyone about anything. She maintained that she had received several complaints regarding young couples dating in parks supposedly engage in immoral activities from parents and general public. So, apparently she felt that it was her “moral responsibility” to clean the public parks with dating menace that are mostly accessed by middle and lower middle class. But she never thought about doing a show about what usually goes down in upscale elite’s private parties and all. This is the very “self-righteous” attitude that had got her here on the first place. TV anchors & Media She argued that repeated airing of her clip on different news channels where she is shown demanding Nikah-nama from young couples made the situation worst. She further argued she was taken totally out of context as complete footage of her show not shown. Here again, Maya Khan is so out of touch with the internet age. The YouTube is flooded with her show’s videos that were posted and shared by many on Facebook and Twitter. And the majority of the people have seen the complete or part footage of her park raid show over the internet not on television. They all are smart enough to know what she and her ‘Vigil Aunties Brigade’ were up to. With the increase of broadband connectivity especially in urban areas, from young to old, everyone is connected to social media sites. Anything that goes viral catches eyes of everyone sooner or later. Remember Dr. Amir Liaquat video that had gone viral last year. She also complained about TV Talk Shows hosts who have questioned her character in their shows and, according to her, tried to corner her by showing her pictures and dance videos. But she failed to realize that it was in fact her dreadful moral policing with vigil aunties that had made anchors and channels to do a show about it, nothing else. There was no secret scheme to bring her down. What they have done wrong is that they didn’t give her opportunity to come on air and respond to allegations leveled against her. They may have puffed up their version a little bit. The people who launched complaint to Zafar Siddiqi, CEO Samaa TV, came from all walks of life. They were not bunch of liberals from civil society venting out their anger. They were students, activists, journalist, media people, teachers and ordinary citizens. This letter to Samaa TV CEO is in addition to other complaints that were made on different forums. Dating Couple were Paid Actors On question that she may have endanger lives of the young couples shown in her show, she revealed that all of them were actually paid actors playing their part in a “well orchestrated raid”, duly approved by Samaa TV high-up’s. Simple question here, why on earth she would use paid actors to baffle audience. This is simply misleading audience who are watching her show believing it to be true. If she needs to highlight any such social issue in this manner, she should’ve made a drama or documentary about it. There is no point in go around making “fake raids”. It is pretty obvious that it was all done to boost show’s ratings. Similarly, in her earlier show she had interviewed a fake “peer” (pious & religious person), where she was crying like a devoted muslim totally swayed away by his spiritualism. Maya said that there is no list out there that governs what one can or cannot do on television. But there is something called social responsibility and sheer common sense. You can also take pointers from Code of Conduct Guidelines of the Society of Professional Journalists to be more ethically responsible. Maya Khan and Samaa TV management (especially the Director Programming) are equally responsible for approving and airing such bizarre concepts for boasting their show’s ratings. She kept repeating that show was based on complaints made by parents and concerned citizens. But she failed to answer that who has given her right to go on a moral crusade. It was very unfortunate that she and her family were abused by internet trolling but her explanation doesn’t seem much convincing and apology was simply not good enough.
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Complete video: Kamran Shahid’s Front Line show with Maya Khan (February 27, 2012), courtesy to Express News.