There's an incredibly bizarre moment in one of Shubham Mishra's YouTube videos where, after spitting graphic cuss words for about 20 seconds straight, Mishra suddenly develops a conscience. He then stops himself from uttering a certain mother-related cuss word. A rough translation of what he says is - "Sorry.. I don't want to abuse your mother but what do I say now?" This is followed by *surprise, surprise* MORE CUSS WORDS!
(Watch from 2.46)
For the unversed, Shubham Mishra is a social media influencer and YouTuber who was detained by the Vadodara City Police on 12 July for uploading an abusive video. In the video, the 26-year-old issued rape threats and used derogatory language against comedian Agrima Joshua for allegedly insulting Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj as part of an old comedy set.
Vadodara City Police took suo moto action in respect of an abusive, threatening video which was uploaded and shared on Social media by Shubham Mishra.— Vadodara City Police (@Vadcitypolice) July 12, 2020
We have detained him and initiated legal process for registration of FIR against him under relevent section of IPC and IT act. pic.twitter.com/XM6J8y4nDx
Mishra has since deleted the video from his social media and made his Instagram account private. He goes by the IG handle @badassshubham.
But for anyone interested, you can take a look at what exactly he said in the video by visiting Swara Bhasker's profile.
Anyway, I had no idea who this ‘badassshubham’ was before this incident, so I decided to pay a little visit to his YouTube page and I’ve been uncomfortable ever since.
From what I could gather, visually, Mishra's brand is basic AF. Just like Hindustani Bhau (another problematic social media influencer), he too sits in a car and talks to the camera. He begins all his videos with "Satyamev Jayete" and he refers to his followers as "Hosle buland army," which roughly might translate to "courageous army." He has 2,97,000 subscribers on YouTube.
Now, I am no expert in badassshubham's rise to fame but I did take a sample size of 15 random and relatively recent videos and noticed that most of the people who comment on his videos seem to be Indian males (going by their names). And honestly, if that's his target audience then I guess I have no reason to be surprised by his content.
A brief overview of his YouTube content will tell you that Mishra is doing what everyone does - trying to ride every newsy trend ever so he can amass followers and get the social media clout.
Neha Dhupia's "It's my choice" clip from Roadies, Sushant Singh Rajput's death, India-China border face-off, Mother's Day, Boy's locker room controversy, goodluck wishes for his young followers sitting for board exams.. are just *some* of his recent videos.
But I can tell that the man's got range. In fact, some of his videos (like this one where he talks about the importance of mental health) are ALMOST sensible. However, what really made me uncomfortable is the kind of language he used in most of his videos.
(Side note: He seems to have a real job too!)
If you've seen the video of Mishra threatening to rape Agrima Joshua, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. His videos are dripping with cuss words and slurs that are painfully violent and graphic. Rape threats, death threats, and lynching threats are casually mentioned in almost every other video that I watched. Personally, I couldn't watch a single video all the way till the end and it wasn't just the sexist language. It's also the physical rage that Mishra displays.
(Watch from 1:00 to get an idea of what I'm saying)
Unfortunately, we live in a patriarchal world where language is inherently sexist and representative of the power structures that dominate society. Most obscenities do not have a male counterpart. So even for people like me, who find such derogatory language disturbing, we've found a way to play deaf. But in Mishra's case it's different because his verbally abusive words are complemented by an equally aggressive tone and body language. His use of cuss words is not cathartic, it's abusive, it's violent.
In fact, his apology video titled "Why I deleted video" perfectly explains his problematic psyche. In the video, Mishra categorically denies making rape threats against Agrima Joshua. He apologises not for his own actions but for how they have been misinterpreted by the public.
Now get this - here's a man who is comfortable issuing public rape threats against a woman by saying things like "I will f**k you from behind," and later when he's held accountable for it, he has the audacity to deny it with so much confidence. If this isn't an accurate reflection of India's rape culture, then what is?
In a video titled "Aisi exams bhot aayegi Zindagi me," Mishra is clearly addressing a young impressionable demographic. Just the thought of adolescent boys being exposed to such violent, sexist content should be enough to scare anyone. In which case, are incidents like the Boy's Locker Room all that surprising?
Having said that, Mishra's YouTube raises another concern about the responsibility that social media platforms have to protect their users. It's an ongoing debate and the likes of TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and even YouTube in the past, have come under fire for problematic content that goes unregulated and creates unsafe environments where abusers and predators can thrive.
Shubham Mishra is not alone. Carry Minati and Hindustani Bhau have both been criticised along similar lines and yet, things haven't changed. Considering the recent police action against Mishra, will this time make any difference?
. Read more on Hot Take by The Quint.Shubham Mishra’s YouTube Is India’s Rape Culture In a NutshellBengal BJP MLA Found Hanging Near Home in North Dinajpur . Read more on Hot Take by The Quint.