Being ableist is the new cool. On Thursday, MTV India posted a promo for their new show MTV Hustle, a hip-hop reality show. The ad begins with a scene with two men, one of them has a speech impediment, his stuttering is used as beats to a not very well written rap promoting the show. The video drew major backlash across social media platforms for being ableist in nature. The insensitive undertones in the video only reflect
The current music scene in India is growing at an accelerated rate is now bringing genres of hip-hop and indie to the mainstream platforms, a corporate-like MTV India which has been a forerunner in bringing music to the Indian audience should have been more considerate and sensitive while making the ad.
The online backlash stirred a controversy, Mo from Azadi Records was one of them. “I’ve stayed pretty quiet on this MTV Hustle show, they harassed me for over 3 months to provide them with rappers for the show, multiple (I mean at least over 10 people) calls asking the same thing – get Azadi acts on this show, not understanding when I explained that our roster are artists, not contestants on a reality show…Then I saw this. If you know me, you know how close I am to Tienas and how his speech impediment has affected his life.” Mo reflected on his relationship with Tienas, a hip hop artist who happens to have a speech impediment.
“When I first took him to a live show to perform back in 2016, he stuttered so much, that he walked off stage and went missing for a few hours in complete embarrassment…Thankfully he now has a team of people around him that believe in him and know he’s an incredible musician as well as the most awesome human being and tell him that everyday.”
We reached out to Tienas and this is what he had to say:
“The rap boom in the country causes big corporates to want rap in many things. Well, speech impediment is something which has been made fun of in the past by Indian popular culture. This advert was insensitive. Everything in India has been and will always be influenced by pop culture. Might be two kids living somewhere, One might have a stutter and the other saw the ad and made fun of the other kid, Then they went to school and the whole school might bully the kid with the stutter. There are things that you have to take consideration (sic) before shit like this. The ad was insensitive and offensive. Plus I’m always looking for a way to say FUCK YOU to these big corporations I’m always looking for
Was it surprising that MTV came up with an insensitive?
“Mtv lost their selves when I 10yrs..(sic)Been seeing Mtv fucking it self so I wasn’t astounded by what they did. Where’s the Music man Music been gone from Mtv since I was 10yrs old man..”
Is the music space in India inclusive of artists with disabilities?
“Not really” adds Tienas, “It’s just some suit and tie douches with their shirt and pant. Board members with shitty ideas which can suck the sensitivity from sensitive teeth…(sic)think it’s totally fine to make fun of sensitive topics in the name of publicity.”
About the tagline of show, Tienas added “Rap Ka Revolution my ass. Revolution starts within 4 walls, working on something which no one believes in, but you, taking the hip hop culture and just making it a reality show what’s the difference between this shot and Indian idol..”
The ad has now been removed from all of MTV’s social media pages. MTV is yet to release a statement on it.