What happened in the content world in May 2021
Updated: 7 days ago
Celebrity offenders, show reunions, Dogecoin jokes—this month had it all!
Images (from L to R): Screengrabs of YouTube videos by Saturday Night Live, Rajshri, HBO Max
(Before you read this, a quick note. I haven’t been at my writing best for the past few days, due to a family crisis. So, please forgive me if the content doesn’t live up to your expectations. God only knows how I’ve been able to put this post together. Thank you, and do continue to show your love to my blog and book if you can!)
Last month saw a dip in India’s Covid-19 count, which was somewhat of a relief. But the abysmal pace of vaccination continues to be a bummer. Shoots in Maharashtra stay on hold or are being done elsewhere, and rising unemployment is still a reality.
On the other hand, there’s America, which is getting back on its feet following a much better-planned vaccination drive.
The scenarios in both countries informed the global media industry, and so the developments that occurred were shaped accordingly. Here’s a round-up of the biggest highlights from the content universe in May 2021.
When Amit Kumar wanted to stop the music
Veteran singer Amit Kumar opened a can of worms when he expressed his displeasure about the Indian Idol 12 episode he was a guest judge at.
It all started when netizens complained of the substandard quality of singing in the musical reality show’s special episode that was dedicated to his father, the melody legend Kishore Kumar.
Amit Kumar then announced that he was asked to praise the contestants on the musical reality show, regardless of their singing. And that he found the quality of singing bad enough to feel like stopping the shoot midway. He never said anything at the time of filming but broke his silence much later.
When Kangana was run-out from Twitter
Following a prolonged period of spewing hate and vitriol on social media, Kangana Ranaut saw her Twitter account suspended over a series of problematic tweets on the post-election violence in West Bengal.
The Bollywood actor is now active on Instagram, though one of her posts—after her positive Covid-19 diagnosis—compelled the image-sharing platform to delete it for incorrectly calling the deadly virus a “small time flu which got too much press” (sic). Blue checks are no guarantee of credibility, are they?
When food brands paired with media biggies
April’s highlights included a piece of news about fast-food bigwig McDonald’s and its collaboration with K-pop heartthrob boy band BTS. The result: a new meal combo, timed to the group’s latest single Butter.
The burger giant began rolling out the limited-edition offering in May and will continue to do so in the next few days in more countries (the meal is available in India from 4 June). Meanwhile, a bunch of other food brands has also had interesting tie-ups.
One of them was Mad Over Donuts, which teamed up with Nickelodeon to come up with a limited-edition line of mango-flavoured donuts. Called the ‘Golmaal Jr. Treat Box,’ the range is themed on Golmaal Jr., the animated show based on the Golmaal comedy franchise by Bollywood filmmaker Rohit Shetty.
And then there was Gaana.com and Brooke Bond Taj Mahal Tea’s partnership for a specially curated playlist of Indian classical music compositions.
Food and drink are truly the way into one’s stomach as well as heart, so one can’t really go wrong here in this regard.
Oh, BTW, did you know BTS’ new single Butter became the highest viewed YouTube video within 24 hours of going live? Now, that’s a smooth record to beat!
When Nestlé made some unhealthy confessions
Speaking of food, Nestlé dropped a bomb when its papers made some shocking revelations. Apparently, more than 60% of the food corporation’s products fail to meet the established nutrition criteria that are essential for something to qualify as healthy food or drink!
Thankfully, the likes of Nescafé pure coffee have been spared the controversy. But what happens to the entire fandom and internet culture surrounding iconic Nestlé brands such as Maggi and Kit-Kat, particularly in India? I guess the most sensible thing anyone can do is read nutrition labels and indulge in moderation, no matter what social media says.
When Elon Musk drove Saturday Night Live
Besides being the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk had an unusual addition last month to his list of achievements: a comedy show host.
The billionaire made his first Saturday Night Live appearance as an emcee and guest star for almost 10 of the comedy show’s sketches.
During his SNL monologue, Musk revealed he has Asperger’s syndrome and that he’s the first person with the condition to host the show. (The claim was later debunked when it came to light that comedian Dan Aykroyd, diagnosed with mild Asperger’s, anchored the show in 2003.) Musk’s mother, Maye, joined him on the stage, and the two then joked about Dogecoin, his favorite cryptocurrency, which Musk also did in a few of the sketches he acted in. Subsequently, Dogecoin prices reached a record high on the Thursday after the telecast.
The episode was a success; on 9 May, it led SNL to see the second-highest worldwide demand for a series. Clearly, a newsmaker and a few cryptocurrency jokes are all you need.
When Babita-ji got booed for the B-word
Munmun Dutta, known for playing the popular character Babita-ji from the long-running sitcom Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, used the casteist B-word in one of her social-media videos and faced netizens’ backlash for it.
Ditto for Yuvika Chaudhary, whose most famous appearances yet have been in the 2007 blockbuster Om Shanti Om and the reality show Bigg Boss 9.
Both actors’ videos stand deleted, both have FIRs registered against them, and both feign ignorance of the word’s connotation. Though it’s hard to believe their claims, it’s still unwise to use a word without knowing what it means or implies.
These instances would remind those who’ve read my book, PiKu & ViRu, about ViRu and his use of offensively casteist language as a TV personality. Go buy or download it now if you haven’t yet.
When Friends: The Reunion took the world by storm
Fans of the blockbuster 90s sitcom Friends clearly had a great month. After all, the show’s six lead stars—Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer—reunited nearly 30 years following the show’s pilot for a special feature.
Friends: The Reunion also had guest appearances by David Beckham, Justin Bieber, BTS, Cindy Crawford, Cara Delevingne, Lady Gaga, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, and Malala Yousafzai, among many others.
The show’s global viewership was surely in the millions, with an estimated 1 million in India alone for the first 7 hours after the premiere. While HBO Max was the streaming platform in the USA, Zee5 aired it in India.
Also, if a show is successful (or even a colossal failure), how can there be no memes on it? Though, only one source was enough for meme-makers to mine all their material from—Matt LeBlanc. The 53-year-old actor’s sitting pose turned him into an “Irish uncle” for netizens, and the jokes just kept springing from this point.
Despite being unable to age well with time due to content that now seems problematic, Friends still holds its place in many of its fans’ hearts. Hope this trend leads to more show reunions in the future that see some introspections, too.
When IPL was suspended
After starting out to undented popularity, despite the rising Covid-19 cases in India, the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 had to be called off when a few players tested positive for the viral disease. Arrangements then had to be made to send the players home.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which organises the tournament, has faced losses of approximately $270 million (₹2,000 crore) due to the midway suspension, with media-rights income being the largest source of revenue for the property.
The championship will now resume in September this year, with the action moving to Dubai instead of continuing in India.
When Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp stared at potential bans
Buzz was rife last month about a possible ban on the Big Four of social media in India.
That’s because they’re yet to comply with the new IT rules enforced by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, which include the appointment of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person, and resident grievance officer.
The only app so far to have done so is the homegrown Koo, which boasts 6 million users. Though, it’s said the big ones aren’t far behind and will do the needful in the near future.
Do you really believe these apps would be going away forever?
When Amrita Rao became the #MemeOfTheMonth
Bollywood actor Amrita Rao would never have imagined that an inconsequential scene featuring her in the 2006 romance Vivah would become meme material nearly 15 years after its release.
In the scene, Rao’s character in the film, Poonam, offers water to family friend Bhagat-ji (Manoj Joshi) and calls it “jal” in the process.
See the video below at 8.08.
We don’t know whether it’s because nobody really calls water “jal” in normal parlance and commonly uses the word “paani” instead, but the scene has now captured the internet in a funny way.
When Rao herself learned about this trend, she jumped onto the bandwagon with a video of her own.
Clearly, Rao has had the last laugh here!
When Amazon went “mini”
After Amazon Prime, the world’s largest e-tailer has rolled out another video-streaming service, but unlike its predecessor, it’s free to watch.
Similar to Flipkart’s in-app streaming feature, Amazon’s miniTV can be accessed within the shopping app for a wide range of videos on food, beauty, fashion, etc., as well as web series. The content is entirely ad-based. This means that should you like a product that’s featured in any of the videos or ads, you can directly purchase it from the online store. In short, with miniTV, Amazon is aiming to become a one-stop solution for all your retail therapy.
The miniTV feature is currently available only for Android users; iPhone and mobile-web users are likely to get it in the next few months.
When Whisper bled red instead of blue
Sanitary-pad biggie Whisper joined the list of brands that now show red liquid instead of the traditionally used blue one to depict period blood in their ads.
Whisper’s possible trepidation is evident from the fact that you can watch the ad only on YouTube. It has also disabled comments on the video.
Last year, Rio likely became the first Indian sanitary-hygiene brand to depict the actual colour of menstrual blood in its ads that featured actor Radhika Apte (who also starred in the 2018 menstruation movie Pad Man). The ads didn’t make any bones about the discomfort we experience during our periods, contrary to the all-smiles route adopted by other ads.
Other parts of the world have already been making this colour change since 2017.
The red liquid is, indeed, a welcome development. For the first 10 years of my life, I always believed sanitary napkins were like any other napkins, meant to remove moisture from clothes and skin! This was before my mother and cousin enlightened me about the concept. So, yes, the blue liquid is misleading and can cause embarrassing situations for kids. Here’s hoping ALL menstrual-product brands go truthfully red in their ads.
Some news from me
I was hoping to announce a theme in this post itself for my June blog entries. But given the circumstances, I’ll have to defer the plan to the next or another month. Ditto for the second PiKu & ViRu book. Hopefully, these will happen as expected. Fingers crossed!