Opinion | Alencier's sexist remarks on Kerala State Film Awards: 'Is artist Baby so cheap?'

On the dais of the Kerala State Film Awards, actor Alencier said that the female statuette given as the award should be replaced with a 'masculine' one. Photo: Manorama

'Don't tempt us by awarding a female statuette. At least from now on, you should give us a masculine one and on that day, I will stop acting.'

When actor Alencier, the winner of the Special Jury Award at the Kerala State Film Awards 2023 said these lines accepting the title in Thiruvananthapuram, the majority of the audience wondered how to react.
While a few clapped hoping the mercy applause would end his misogynistic speech, the rest, who heard him both live and on TV, couldn't help but think back on the numerous inappropriate remarks he has already made in the one decade of his film career. And that probably, he wasn't acting but being himself in the film 'Appan', which won him the Special Jury Award.

From the 2019 #MeToo allegations against the actor to making an anti-clergy speech amid fishermen at the Vizhinjam protest that was led by the church, 'Artist Baby' (Alencier's character in the film 'Maheshinte Prathikaram') is known for his inappropriate conduct from time to time. This has also reflected in his comments against the sexually harassed nun who had complained against the former Bishop Franco. 

In a society where the support for the sexually assaulted Malayalam female actor, nun and other #MeToo survivors was hardly half the population and high-profile predators widely enjoyed 'mass' status, it's no surprise that there are people to justify Alencier's views too.

The go-to statements 'It's just a joke,' 'Don't take old men seriously,' 'Not everyone cares about political correctness' to 'Artists need not be judged for how socially sensitive they are,' are freely thrown around, this time too. However, it's amusing that Alencier fearlessly made such an anti-women comment on a dais that had the State's ministers and women achievers of filmdom as well.

Whether any action will be taken against him or not, the Sigma male fans and 'traditional values' advocates will continue to find reasons to cheer him on and normalise his words, at least for a while. 

A collective media backlash calling out his misogyny and the strong stands taken by a handful of women in filmdom offer a ray of hope despite it all, and what a responsible audience can do is add strength to their voices. When the majority of film folks don't raise their voice fearing whether it will jeopardise their career, even one line calling out such behaviour is an act of bravery for many. 

In this scenario, it's the audience who probably has the bigger power to silence such loose talkers. After all, any public figure, especially actors, who enjoy a wide social appeal and don't realise the power of their influence over the common man who looks up to them is not a responsible citizen. When a section of the audience lauds them as 'pacha manushyar' (sans moral filters) and 'great performers' despite their irresponsible remarks and conduct, what they get are bigger platforms to advocate toxic behavioural patterns.

Alencier's response to the media on his questionable comments on such a dais also makes him a 'poster child' for whiny, extreme and toxic masculinity, that says, "Women should also learn to respect men, men don't get reservation, and only men are punished for anything immoral. There is nobody to listen to men today." Thanks to his repeatedly ill-suited comments, the man is teaching more people day by day how to brush him off like a Kamaal R Khan or Andrew Tate. And if he doesn't exercise caution for his own good, the recent history of an industry that silenced many powerful misogynists is right in front of him as a warning sign. 
(The views expressed are personal)

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