Aunty ki Ghanti: How a Quint reporter was targeted by online mobs for calling out song’s misogyny

Omprakash Mishra’s viral rap song has created a furore.

india Updated: Sep 17, 2017 22:31 IST
Zehra Kazmi
Zehra Kazmi
Hindustan Times
Aunty ki Gunty,Bol na Aunty aaun kya,Omprakash Mishra
Omprakash Mishra, the rapper behind ‘Aunty ki Ghanti’. (Facebook)

Rapper Omprakash Mishra’s ‘Aunty ki Ghanti’, the internet’s current 15-second sensation had garnered a staggering 3 million views, but a counter-video by online news site Quint Neon, asking for the song to be removed from YouTube has created a furore.

Quint had to take down the video after fans of the song threatened to organise a ‘raid’ at the Quint office, hack their Facebook page and sent their reporter abuse and death threats. The media company, however stuck to its stand and lodged a complaint in Sector 20, Noida police station under the IT act.

Speaking to HT, Quint journalist Deeksha Sharma who was targeted by online mobs said the abuse and tirades spilled over to her personal Facebook account and she even received threats on her personal number. “Whatever we said, even if people disagreed, it is absolutely not justified for people to harass or threaten me over an article” said Sharma.

If you’re wondering how things reached a point where hundreds of people are willing to threaten a woman for asking a sexist song to be taken down, you are not alone.

But here is how events unfolded.

Aunty ki Ghanti goes viral

Aspiring rapper Omprakash Mishra shot to fame recently after his song Aunty ki Ghanti, which he uploaded to YouTube in 2015, became a thriving hit.

While connoisseurs of cringe-pop who glory in ‘ironically liking’ Dhinchak Pooja’s Selfie Maine Le Li Aaj and Taher Shah’s Angel had already discovered Mishra’s rap, it was an event created by Facebook page Shit Indians Say that brought it into the mainstream.

The event may have seemed like a joke, but on Monday, a bunch of people gathered in Delhi’s busy Connaught Place with only one aim: to loudly shout a few lines from the song. Within a matter of days, similar events were organised in other parts of the country, including Mumbai’s Marine Drive, Hyderabad and the IIT Kharagpur campus.

The song had notched up 3 million views on YouTube, making Mishra trend. But along with snarky pieces on millennial antics and cringe-pop songs, media coverage overwhelmingly called out the rancid misogyny of the lyrics.

Is ‘Aunty Ki Ghanti’ misogynistic? Yes, it is.

Mishra’s song describes in detail the lurid fantasies of a young man hitting on an ‘aunty’ or an older woman who is acting pricey, according to him. What follows is a long litany of things he wants to do to the aunty, with explicit descriptions of sexual acts.

A lot of media reportage emphasised the rank misogyny of the lyrics. ScoopWhoop translated the video’s lyrics into English based on colloquial usage, to bring home the point. An article in HuffPost called it appalling that a song “so unmistakably sexually aggressive in its intent, with every lyric objectifying and belittling women, has been elevated to the status of a youth anthem.” An opinion piece in the DailyO dives deep into rap’s history of sexism and explores how elitist mock-enjoyment of the song makes people complicit in normalising misogyny.

Quint Neon put out a counter video to Mishra’s rap song, which featured its reporter Deeksha Sharma demanding YouTube take down the song for its absolutely derogatory lyrics.

“If you haven’t heard the song, let me tell you how this ‘Omprakash - The Rap King’ threatens to rape,” Sharma says in the video, pointing, among other lyrics, to this line:

Teri to ghanti bajana aauntie meine thani hai, night me ye dekh meinu sot lagani hai.

A while later, Mishra’s video was taken down by YouTube – not because of Quint’s exhortation but because of a copyright claim by Smokedlime, another YouTuber.

This drove incensed ‘fans’ of Mishra as well as meme-pages to launch a consolidated attack on Sharma and Quint. In a detailed report, Buzzfeed shows how the ‘meme community’ banded together to ‘raid’ the Quint office as well as circulating Sharma’s profile and personal number on groups.

“A page called Meme Mandir tagged me in comments,” Sharma told HT. Her image was used to create sexist memes, while Quint Neon’s Facebook page faced mass downvoting. A page that appeared to be Omprakash Mishra’s personal Facebook account also encouraged the idea of a raid, but later asked his fans to desist.

The Quint took down their video, saying that while it stood by the content, it did not want its reporter to be targeted any further and lodged a complaint at Noida’s Sector 20 police station.

Is it wrong to call for a takedown of derogatory songs?

Quint Neon’s detractors argued that it was wrong of the online site to call for censorship of the song, saying it amounted to a violation of free speech. They also took issue with the Quint’s video asking for a harassment suit against the rapper.

A section of those criticising Quint have defended the song as a young man having “harmless fun”, while others questioned why the media company does not call out established rappers such as Honey Singh or Eminem?

Screenshots of comments against the Quint video.

“Sexism in any way is unacceptable. Who told these people that I listen to Eminem or Honey Singh or haven’t called them out?,” asks Sharma.

A lot of the vitriol directed at Sharma and Quint Neon is a backlash against what the commentators see as ‘elite’, ‘feminazis’ targeting a ‘middle-class’, upcoming artist like Mishra. But using class as a defence against charges of misogyny is not only a lame argument, but especially specious in this cases since most of the song’s fan-base belongs to the same ‘elite class’. The enjoyment derived from cringe-pop is laughing at the artist, not with them.

The problem, says Sharma, is when people start shouting lyrics like these in streets without even understanding them.

“If you can explain how the lyrics are funny and not sexist, then please do so,” says Sharma. “When you create events, shout it in the streets, you’re crossing the line. You’re normalising this.”

First Published: Sep 17, 2017 21:18 IST