October 2018

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Cover Art by
– Riya Nagendra, II B.A English
– Anjali, II B.A Visual Arts

Quote by
– Radha, II B.Com

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Editorial

What is the one thing that unites millions of strangers over the internet? It is not just mind numbing anger over a certain politician and his policies but also love for a certain celebrity, piece of art, literature, music and the list goes on. People who live in opposite parts of the world become familiar acquaintances when they realise that they have similar tastes in music, books and what not. Fandoms can be found in almost every corner of the internet; ‘stanning’ their favourite celebrities, writing fanfiction about two arch rivals falling in love and drawing fanart of their favourite celebrities hoping to be acknowledged. Since Stellaeidoscope’s members bond extensively over fandoms and the WhatsApp group’s messages usually blow up with fan theories, we decided to dedicate an entire issue celebrating fans and fandoms. Whether you created fake accounts to ensure that a certain YouTuber remains undefeated in his subscriber count or are confused about not belonging to any fandom, Stellaeidoscope has a place for you.

Apart from fandoms, this issue also looks at important events that happened during October – the Sabarimala verdict, International Coming Out Day and India’s very own #MeToo movement. Sometimes events that take place around us destroy the last remaining shred of faith in humanity; like the never ending sexual harassment accusations against powerful men in India and Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment as the United States’ Supreme Court judge. But we can always find solace in a world that we have created for ourselves in the form of websites and web pages run solely to analyse certain books, movies, TV series and come up with things that even the writer wouldn’t have thought of. This world will take us in its arms and comfort us when we are tired of the world that we live in and want to escape to a place where imaginations run wild. After all, a little getaway never hurt anyone!

Happy reading!

Cheers,

Team Stellaeidoscope.

Fandom Crossword

– Maanbu Thalapathi, III B.A English

 

Across:

1) Don’t play the odds,..? (4,3,3)

2) Not a queen,..? (1,8)

3) Where the possible and impossible meet (11)

4)  The Summoning Charm (5)

5) #WhoDiedAtTheWedding – whose wedding? (7)

Down:

6) Gus and Hazel’s ‘Always’ (4)

7) Snape’s love for Lily (6)

8) It’s like a cow’s opinion (3,5)

9) Havana (7)

10) The detention club (9)

 

 

Solution to previous crossword –

Screenshot (5)

#HimToo: The Art of Redirecting Focus

– Zenia Zuraiq, II BSc. Physics
– Art by Tanvi Hemani, I B.A Visual Arts

 

The #MeToo movement has been an important focus of last month’s news cycle. Several men of great public influence have been outed as being part of manipulative and abusive acts against women. Sexual assault allegations have been rampant. The movement has then, obviously, gained some significant public traction.

There have been a number of varied responses to the movement. Mainstream media has held the movement as a positive one, helping give agency to those who aren’t ordinarily able to voice out their experiences. #MeToo has helped platform and expose some of the difficulties that women have to face in these industries.

There has however also been some notable criticism of the movement. #MeToo is not without fault – some problems mentioned includes how the movement has an incredibly short focus. The movement has (so far) not taken any concrete, long-term steps to stop an environment that enables men in positions of power to commit such acts in the first place. Good-natured criticism aside however, there has also been a vocal faction of people who have been criticising the movement.. less constructively.

The counter-movement #HimToo has been growing steadily on social media. Men, especially, have been vocalizing some concerns about the current environment that #MeToo has encouraged. Concerns have been raised about false allegations, and how “Believing Survivors Blindly” can lead to certain people taking advantage. People have also been voicing concerns about “not knowing where the line is” anymore. “How far can an innocent interaction go before it turns into something that can be reconstructed as a sexually inappropriate?”.

It’s obvious to see that this is a ridiculous position to take regarding such a sensitive issue. To look at the fact that multiple women are finally getting the courage to speak against all the pressure from external forces and then conclude that the issue must be reframed to have you as the victim is an extremely shallow one. #HimToo portrays why women hesitate to come forward in the first place. We live in a culture that would rather portray women as lying and opportunistic than even listening to the women in question.

Of course, women lying and/or taking advantage of this current situation is not, by any means, unheard of. It is something that we need to consider and have an honest discussion about, while considering the subtleties and nuances surrounding the issue. However, using such a rare possibility to fear-monger and turn people away from a movement that is just in its infancy is not just misleading, it’s harmful. Today, as the movement is beginning to gain traction and cover more ground, we need to remember that it takes a lot of courage to come out to a society that is not exactly welcoming. Victims do not come out with their repressed trauma for the attention. It is important that when presented with such raw emotion, we are able to empathise, instead of cross-examining an already fragile person. Incidentally, the hostility around victims reporting incidents of sexual abuse is an important factor in what makes them hesitant to come forward in the first place. Women are ostracized both for coming forward and for not coming forward. For the victim, it seems like a real lose-lose, so the notion of any ulterior “end goal” she might have seems to be absurd.

It is also important that we recognise that by talking about the seeming surge of “fake accusations” is in itself, ironically, manipulative. #HimToo is not just a problem of a few men whining; it has gained support rapidly amongst many people and has been used to sway countless others. The #HimToo movement is an extremely loaded one, serving no other purpose than to shift your focus away from the real victims – the real issue. That real issue is the toxic environment that enables masculinity and power dynamics to get entangled to this messy degree; that helps men get to a position where they are protected even after the worst crimes. #HimToo is just as political as #MeToo and it’s one that serves no other purpose than to discredit a group of people who have been voiceless enough as it is.

At the end of the day, when you, as a person, look at victims of abuse coming forward and reframe it around the gender that (mostly) committed the crime in the first place, it reveals exactly what agenda you prioritize. And that agenda does not involve women.

Bro Army versus T-Series

– Akchayaa R, III B.A. English

 

How nine year olds around the world united to save a YouTuber

Nine year olds are taking over YouTube and no this is not about Lil’ Tay flashing her dollars and riding her expensive cars. If you have been following YouTube keenly, there is no way you would’ve missed out on the war between the controversial Swedish YouTuber Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie) and T-Series, an Indian music company, for being the channel with the most subscribers. PewDiePie uploads a video everyday where he usually reviews memes, video games and Reddit submissions and is known for his sarcasm and edgy humour while T-Series’ channel consists mostly of Bollywood songs and trailers of new movies and they upload nearly five or six videos every day. To most people, this might seem like a regular thing where two channels are vying for the most number of subscribers but for ‘nine year olds’ or ‘the bro army’, this is war. They are not backing down without a fight.

This ‘war’ started when PewDiePie’s channel had 65 million subscribers and Social Blade Analysts predicted that T-Series, with 60 million subscribers would soon overtake the former’s channel to become the most subscribed channel on YouTube. While some feel that this whole race to the top is not between equals because PewDiePie is an individual creator and T-Series is one of the largest Bollywood production companies in the world, fans are not letting PewDiePie to be dethroned from his position. This war went to such an extent where an American YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson, popularly known as MrBeast, rented the billboards and almost every advertisable space (urinals included) in his area to appeal to the people to subscribe to PewDiePie. He even went on the radio and asked people to subscribe so that the PewDiePie remains on top of the leader board. Something similar happened in Bangladesh where fans put up posters of PewDiePie persuading people to subscribe to his channel. Somebody from India too had advertised in the local newspaper to subscribe to PewDiePie’s channel. It always feels good to have insider support, doesn’t it?!

When Vijayalakshmi, a third year English Literature student and an ardent fan of PewDiePie was asked whether this war is just between two channels or is there something more to it, she had some interesting comments. “Superficially, it is PewDiePie versus T-Series but this is actually YouTube versus creators. At one point YouTube was just one person connecting with his/her audience but now it has become a commercialised product where big companies with editors and writing staff are promoted to make it advertisement friendly. Edgy humour like PewDiePie’s, particularly after the Fiverr incident (PewDiePie was accused of broadcasting anti-Semitic messages), is not advertisement friendly and this caused the demonetisation of many small creators. So right now, YouTube does not want a channel that makes edgy comedy to be on top. When PewDiePie made gaming videos he was advertisement friendly and was promoted by YouTube but now they are promoting T-Series because they do not want a channel like PewDiePie’s to represent the YouTube community. At the end of the day, the voice of the people matters and people are always behind PewDiePie. PewDiePie will always prevail; he’s the meme king and nobody can replace him.”

Right now, as you are reading this article, PewDiePie’s subscribers are growing (70 million when I last checked) and they will continue to grow as long PewDiePie reviews memes and once in a while, Poppy Harlow makes an appearance to provide people with nothing but facts on Pew News. Corporate companies like YouTube must realise that the person who sold hotdogs to buy a computer to make videos; the creator whose show was cancelled because people couldn’t appreciate sarcasm; the man who was accused of being racist by mainstream media and tabloids but still made videos calling out on them and most importantly the man who has an army of bros and nine year olds by his side will not lose his top dog position to a Bollywood music production company. So, tough luck, T-Series! The bro army wishes you all the very best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Constitution, Women and Religion: A Tension-Filled Love Triangle

– Riya Nagendra, II B.A English

 

The Supreme Court’s Sabarimala verdict has been one of the most hotly discussed issues in the past month, so anyone who played Diwali Party Conversation Topics Bingo, ticked that one right off. It is quite an interesting affair to discuss because there are so many ways to look at the issue.

There is, first of all, the very obvious approach to the debate – that the reason behind the temple’s rule is blatantly sexist and is built upon a precedent that portrays women as wicked seductresses for merely existing as fertile beings. Religion, being such a huge influence in the lives of most people, has to keep up with the times. The verdict acknowledges and enforces this.

It does also, however, set another dangerous precedent (like a terrible exchange offer – one bad precedent for another) at a point in time when the government is overly keen on matters of religion. How far can constitutional machinery interfere with matters of religion? Consider that not all judges may be as progressive and logical in their reasoning as the five judge bench that considered the Sabarimala case and the prospect of an iffy judge and an overzealous ruling party is not an alluring one.

There were two things that I was sure of in my head when the verdict initially came out. One, that Sabarimala was rather like a private club that is free to set its own rules – just like any other club that has a members-only policy, or sets a dress code, the temple has its own restrictions on entry.

It seems I was not quite right about this. Sabarimala temple is run by the Travancore Devasvom Board, an affiliate authority of the Kerala government. Which means the temple is a government institution, not a private club; this why the Supreme Court was even allowed to address the issue in the first place. Sabarimala was legally classified as a “state”, that is, a body at least partially funded by the government, while also being a legitimate organisation in and of itself. The judiciary’s purpose is to ensure that fundamental rights are protected in government bodies, and four out of five judges on the bench agreed that allowing women into the temple would fulfil this. There is still a large debate about whether a secular government should be able to amend religious tradition, if it is not a dire social evil (like Sati, for example), but attempting to qualify various degrees of societal evil is a very subjective slippery slope.

Since the verdict, there have been a mass of protests at the temple, making it very difficult for women pilgrims to enter the temple, or even for women journalists to report around the area. As a democracy, we should be all for protests, but obviously peaceful ones, where protesters do not physically and verbally abuse the people they do not agree with it.

While the government has a duty to enforce the verdict of the Supreme Court, there has been some dissent from certain ends of the political spectrum, and this stance makes things very clear for voters participating in the 2019 elections, just like the recent renaming of some cities. Some politicians claim to remain neutral, but whether this alleged neutrality is a political gambit to preserve their vote bank, or a serious thoughtful consideration of events is anyone’s guess.

All in all, the journey from the verdict to the present, much like a woman’s pilgrimage to Sabarimala has been a messy one, and finally the only question on everyone’s mind is, “Where will it all end?”

Theatricals 2018

Riya Nagendra, II B.A. English

 

Theatricals, the dramatics competition was, as always, a much anticipated event in October and it did not disappoint the eager students.

The ten best plays were selected from the scripts submitted by other colleges and the teams performed on the 23rd of November in the semi-finals of the event. The top five teams showcased their talent to an eager crowd in Alliance Française, on October 7. The talent included teams from SSN College of Engineering, Vivekananda College and Ethiraj College.

There was a variety of plays, both serious and comedic, and the teams used different dramatic techniques to evoke emotion in the audience. However, Lights Out Please, the theatre club of SSN College won the overall prize, with its bilingual musical ‘Nadavula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom’, a play that kept the audience hooked with its engaging meta-narrative. They bagged all the awards, and were, of course, audience favourites among the competing teams.

As exciting as the contestants’ play was, it was the host performance that stole the show. A haunting play directed by Ms.Gayathri Pradeep with a fantastic musical number composed by our own students, the Stella Players gave everyone chills with their performance.

The event was a success, thanks to the office bearers of the Dramatics Club and the volunteers. Theatricals has become a landmark event around this time of year, and we at Stellaiedoscope anticipate future editions of the competition, especially the spectacular host performances put up by the budding actors of Stella.

The Fandom-less Fangirl

– Anahita Teresa Paul, I B.A. Visual Arts

 

In the seventeen years and eight months I breathed life on this planet, I have realized that our generation is something I can only describe as spectacular. Let me explain: we’re living in twenty eighteen where we stream our favourite music in sometime less than a millisecond, we blow up on the internet for doing the dumbest and-pardon my French- dope-est things, we’re so gangster that we watch movies online before they hit the theatres even though our fifth grade computer teachers told us piracy is a crime and we all imagined ourselves as Captain Hook (or Jack Sparrow- take your pick) behind bars and we exist at the same time as the Kardashians. You think anyone in the 1800s, or whenever really, guessed that there would one day be a time when people got famous for just being famous! Of course, not! That’s because they didn’t have Instagram and had plagues and wars to deal with. Oh, the hippies in the seventies did drugs? Well, we ate Tide Pods for views on YouTube and had a burning esophagus. We exemplify the term extra(vaganza) because we have multiple accounts on social media to ‘stan’ and participate in the fandom and revel in the awesomeness of the people we love, I think. I mean, I wouldn’t know.

In reference to the title of this article- I do not belong anywhere. I realise that almost everyone reading this has the totally justified fear of being boxed or labeled based on what they like, how they dress or what they said about Jenny to Kenny while watching Manchester by the Sea. However, the problem polar takes me to the other extreme- labels and boxes turn into whisks and pans, because it makes my brain scrambled eggs. Why, you ask? My friend would say it’s because I have commitment issues (mind you, her Instagram handle contains the words ‘fandom’ and ‘queen’). In a way, she’s right because yesterday I spent the entire day obsessing over Freddie Mercury’s costume design- may his soul rest in peace as we jam to the Bohemian Rhapsody; the previous day I watched about five hours worth of Aubrey Plaza interviews (YouTube is very informative that way). Today, all I want is for somebody to start a blog on the origins of every Royal Family’s Crown Jewels so I can while away another five hours. No fandom is ever going to want me because which family wants cousin Jim who never shows up except for the annual Christmas lunch when he pompously tells everyone he really loves the family. I’m a cousin Jim to the fandoms of the world.

The last time I really ever belonged to fandom was my Hunger Games phase. No, I didn’t exchange notes with other fans on the internet on Jennifer Lawrence’s best angles but I did pray every night to transform me into Katniss Everdeen so I can be as awesome as her. I stopped when I realised that our lives are pretty much exactly like the Hunger Games except that we don’t have to hunt. Essentially, I get unhealthily excited about everything from a Cotton Eyed Joe karaoke session to the Academy Awards and then I forget it ever happened. This probably explains why I am so uninterested in everything on my Tumblr feed.

To conclude this completely unnecessary rant that I only started because I felt left out, I just have to say: props to all the fan girls and boys out there (with fandoms) and your commitment to them. I envy you, but I wouldn’t want to be you because I just got a Pinterest Alexander McQueen board recommendation. I now know what I’m going to be doing for the next five hours.

 

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

– Rathna Mahesh, III B.A. English
Originally published in Metroplus on October 11

 

International Coming Out Day may not be celebrated here in India as it is in countries like USA or UK on 11th October, but that doesn’t stop people from talking about their journey out of the closet and into the frying pan known as the Indian society.

Talking to Vikram Sundarraman (Delfina), an LGBTQ activist at Nirangal was an eye opener. They (as Delfina prefers to be addressed) spoke about how people only think in binaries like male and female; even the term transgender is coined in relation to the male or female sex. Coming out is constructed as one particular event in a person’s life as if there exists a defining point of ‘coming out’, while in truth, it is actually a process of coming to terms with the concept of identity and sexual orientation.

“When I was in kindergarten, teachers made observations like he does not mingle or get along with other boys. From a very young age, I didn’t confirm to the idea of me being either masculine or feminine. I was trying to navigate through this but did not have the tools, words or terminology for it.”

This brings us to the question of why pronouns are gendered in the first place. Delfina says, “In Tamil, we have avan(him) or aval(her) and we also have the common avanga(them). Why do we need gendered pronouns for sexual orientation when we don’t have them for people with say, different hair or eye colours?”

Namithaa Jayasankar chooses to identify herself as pansexual and gender fluid. When asked if she always knew about her sexuality, she replied, that luckily, she had access to all the right resources she needed to figure out what she was going through. So the realisation wasn’t out of the blue, nor was it something that needed further exploration on her part.

“My parents, they know, to an extent. We have a don’t ask don’t tell policy.”

Talking about her own experience of coming out, she said “Some of the people I came out to unfriended me or avoided me. I wasn’t too affected. They saved me the trouble of having to unfriend them myself later, once they had done any emotional damage.”

She goes on further to say, “I am very headstrong and decided that people who wouldn’t associate with me because of my sexuality were people whom I had no desire to be associated with.”

 

Sridhar R (22) is a student of social work. His reasons for coming out, he said, were twofold. Firstly, he wanted people to understand him completely and secondly, he felt pressured by questions from peers about his lack of interest in relationships and girls, and coming out was a means of putting an end to those questions.

“The first question they always asked once I came out to them was about my sexual life. They reduced the scope of my identity to my sexual preference.”

He talked about how most people are hesitant to come out because they feel that it would affect their siblings’ prospect of a marriage and a place in ‘accepted’ society.

Another member of the community talked about how he came out as gay on social media once the ban on Section 377 was lifted. He claimed that many people on his Facebook friends list contacted him about their own stories and questions about coming out.

He states that while events such as pride parades are a step in the right direction, it is also a very westernised concept of portraying the LGBTQ community. As a society that publicly scorns yet secretly apes western culture, we ought to be portraying the LGBTQ community in a way that Indian society will relate to. This doesn’t mean, he explains, that we pander to society’s rigid edicts but instead, portraying the LGBTQ community to cater to Indian needs, like Indianising a Domino’s or McDonalds’ menu to suit the Indian palette would be prudent.

We need to remember that people who come out today inherit all the stigma placed on the LGBTQ community as a whole. They need a safe haven to come out to. It simply won’t do if the closet seems a better place to live in.

 

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