Russell Peters on sexual harassment issue: It’s a weird time for us

“It’s very difficult time. My fans say, ‘Can I give you a hug?’ And I go, ‘I don’t know’, ” said Peters, who lives some of the year in Los Angeles.
Mishquah Parthiephal and Russell Peters in the serial The Indian Detective, which will be available globally from Netflix later this month.
Mishquah Parthiephal and Russell Peters in the serial The Indian Detective, which will be available globally from Netflix later this month.
Published on Dec 10, 2017 08:41 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Toronto | By, Toronto

As a growing number of accusations of sexual impropriety threaten the careers of major personalities in Hollywood, the issue is also having an impact on the entertainment industry.

In an interview, Indo-Canadian standup comedian Russell Peters said, “It’s a very weird time for us, ” adding that the controversy had impacted regular interactions too.

“It’s very difficult time. My fans say, ‘Can I give you a hug?’ And I go, ‘I don’t know’, ” said Peters, who lives some of the year in Los Angeles.

The comments of Peters, whose new TV show The Indian Detective will be released worldwide including in India on December 19, came in the context of his reference to co-star Mishquah Parthiephal as “easy on the eye.”

“She’s beautiful, it’s tough to say. It’s a fine line between I complimented her and I made her feel uncomfortable. That’s the world we’re living in.”

The South African actress plays a human rights lawyer Priya Sehgal, who joins forces with Peters’ character Doug D’Mello, a Toronto cop suspended from his job for a botched investigation.

Peters isn’t a stranger to being criticised for sexually inappropriate comments.

Earlier this year, while hosting the June Awards in Ottawa, he referred to Canada’s minister of Canadian heritage Mélanie Joly as “hot”, leading to a blowback.

Canadian media also attacked him for his joke about a group of young women at the venue. Peters had said, “That’s a lot of young girls here. This is a felony waiting to happen.”

“I was referring to drugs and alcohol and everybody flipped it into their purpose and said I was making a rape joke. I’m the father of a girl; the last thing I’m thinking about is a rape joke,” he told Hindustan Times.

His resentment of being accused of being sexist was obvious, as he said, “People repurpose whatever you say to suit their needs. And if their need is to bury you, that’s what they’re going to do,” the comedian said, striking a very serious note.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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