When J was evicted from the house, they kept out the audience due to numerous death threats sent to the show. J apologized profusely for her racist remarks and the insults thrown at the actress. But the public demonized her and kept punishing her. She lost endorsements and contracts. So she frantically went on a tearful apology tour because the publicity was everything she had to pay the mortgage for her mansion and provide for her two children. In the house, meanwhile, the tension among inmates dissipated once J was gone. People got along, and there was more laughter and light-heartedness. Even the plain boyfriend, who once declared he hated the actress, became friendly with her.
But, when the pop singer left the house and was interviewed, she failed to acknowledge her part in bullying the actress. This enraged the public. She was stripped of contracts and endorsements, and death threats and hate messages were directed at her. When she appeared in the media again, she looked wretched. She crossed her arms to hold herself and swayed her body back and forth while sobbing and murmuring the words of regret and apology. On one news show, one woman in the discussion said that it doesn’t mean those three women should now be bullied by the public like a witch trial. But the other woman, who was an MP, said that these b****es deserved it. I wanted justice, so I was glad to see them suffer as much as the actress did. It wasn’t that I sided with the actress, but I saw myself in her as many people did.
A few years later, when I paid little attention to the TV show because it was “stupid,” I heard the news that J had fallen gravely ill. She was participating in the Indian version of the same reality TV show to recover her reputation when she received the news that she had terminal cervical cancer. She decided to make her death public, and her sheet white face and bald head were often seen on the covers of tabloid magazines. One could not avoid watching her deteriorating body because she was everywhere. She passed away soon after her wedding to her plain boyfriend.
The media started to portray her as a tragic figure; she was born into a poor working-class neighborhood, her parents were addicts, and she was exploited by TV producers and tabloid magazines. But, as I look back now, I see that J simply exposed reality to the public just as she spoke her mind. Few people are so openly racist as her, but like sexism, racism is often insidious. And it is disguised as a public good when embedded in the system. It is extremely difficult to call out racism (or sexism or any other form of discrimination) if it is ever so subtly done. And if you are on the receiving side of such treatment, you normalize it. Society normalizes it. It wouldn’t be until 2016, when I witnessed the next blatant racist, that I truly came to terms with the racism I encountered throughout my time in the West.