Maya Khan, apology not accepted

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Call her a vigil-aunty, call her a vapid morning show host, call her what you must, you have to admire the sheer tenacity of Maya Khan in her refusal to back down, lay low and do the one thing she needs to do to end her misery – apologize for a mistake.

I had hoped never to see Maya appear on a TV screen again – in any other country, she would have been fined (along with her producers and the media group) faced a legal inquiry and been banned from TV. Unfortunately, in Express News’ desire to produce “the greatest controversy of 2012” (their words, not mine), we get this:

 

Let me proceed to deconstruct those of Maya’s words that invoked in me emotions ranging from mild disgust to outright rage.

“I had no list to tell me what could and could not be done”

Really Maya? That is your answer? Sure I get that you’re trying to shift the blame onto Samaa and Pakistan media in general for having no code of conduct, but really? You think you can convince viewers that you had no idea that shooting an episode chasing young people in a park, passing judgment on them, terrifying them, putting their lives in danger by exposing them, unethically (criminally) not turning the camera off when asked to, and by means of the episode, encouraging others to pursue such vigilante actions against park couples requires a code for you to know that it is wrong?

Verdict: Pathetic, weak, unacceptable. Also, -200 for trying to take a real issue of the need for a media code of ethics to try and protect your own wrong doing.

“If something wrong has been shown, then why show it again and again? You are just as guilty as me for sharing my mistake”

Two wrongs don’t make a right Maya, good point. However, intent is what matters in this case. Those broadcasting your “mistake” (thank you for at least rhetorically calling it that) in the park again and again are doing so because they want to highlight what they consider unacceptable. You on the other hand broadcast your mistake with the joyful intent of successfully acting as moral police – something you thought, and still think, is the right thing to do.

Verdict: Sad, frustrating. I am quite amazed at your inability to grasp the difference between something being broadcast for condemnation, and something being broadcast as morally correct. I’m a kind person – I’ll give you the benefit of doubt and say you are just deeply confused; most others say you are a liar, and once again trying to pass moral judgment on others.

“Nobody’s life was in danger from that show. No one was harmed.”

“The problem was real. We were not making up an issue; it exists…I was accused of invasion of privacy. Well keeping that in mind, we used actors to ensure no one was harmed.”

Here comes what Maya thought was her winning argument, one which took her weeks to come up with for some reason (some would say lies). The show was staged, paid actors were used. Here is a DVD showing girls in burqas saying they were paid to act and here are two of the actors who appeared in the episode.

First off Maya, the DVD has been produced by you. It shows girls covered up in burqas being interviewed by you on a set, date unknown. Should I, or anyone else for that matter, believe you? Rubbish.

Secondly Maya, the actors you brought onto the show didn’t face any of the real questions viewers were asking each other. You showed two paid actors, but what about all the others you chased in the park? Are they all paid actors too? If even one isn’t, you are still guilty. Also, given that your ethics are suspect, many are saying you simply found the two boys you filmed and paid them to say they are paid actors – that’s not too hard to arrange is it, ask many.

Lastly, do you realize that it is both unethical and a crime to show fake events and pass them off as real? Do you know there is a requirement to run a “reenactment” or “staged” on-screen graphic and/or mention clearly that the footage shown is staged? Where are the actors mentioned in the credits? Do you realize that by not mentioning the show was staged, you have misrepresented the truth, and many may assume this form of vigilantism is acceptable for them to do if it’s fine on TV.

“What NGOs are you talking about Kamran? Are you talking about those NGOs that cash in on Mukhtaran Mai?” [in response to Kamran saying many NGOs worked hard at women’s rights, which Maya’s actions had undone]

This is disgusting. This is outrageous. This is the kind of despicable nonsense we hear from third rate conspiracy theorists and the scum of society who reframe Mukhtaran Mai’s rapeas a case of NGO led over-hype, diverting from the issue at hand – the gang rape of a woman trapped in a patriarchal horror story. What is doubly disgusting is the hypocrisy Maya shows, having just moments before cried in front of Kamran Shahid and asked if she had never helped anyone, never helped a rape victim.

Verdict: If there was even an iota of sympathy left for Maya, it just went out the window. If there was any doubt of her moral standing, it lays exposed with this utterance. Unacceptable.

“Okay well, for the people who got me till here, those who cared for me and respected me…what happened, whether that was right or wrong, I won’t talk about that, but whomever  I have ever effected in a positive way, I apologize to you. Please forgive me.”

This was the conditional apology offered as a climax to the show. An apology not offered to everyone, but to Maya’s well wishers. An apology not for doing anything wrong, as that is not what she wants to talk about, but an apology for…what? What is this an apology for? For having hurt her well wishers by being forced to go off air?

Apology not accepted Maya.

Published in Tribune Blogs.

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