Murder by social media

Updated: Jun 28, 2020, 07:28 IST | Rahul da Cunha | Mumbai

A celeb kills himself. Boring. We want a villain punished, even if there isn't one. Suicide just isn't a script with box office possibilities. Suicide is dull. Suicide is a festival film at best. Now, murder. That's a super hit

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Rahul da CunhaNothing confounds me more than the social media aftermath of a celebrity suicide.

It paces itself, sequentially.

Don't get me wrong. I'm partial to thrillers, whether it's a whodunit, a whydunit, a howdidtheydoit, or a whoalldidit.

But things get a bit hairy when it's a 'letsconvertasuicideintoamurder'.

The pursuers of five minutes of fame fall into certain categories. Let's go in order, as they emerge out of the woodwork. The vultures ready to swoop.

The Professional Weepers: When the tragic news hits, they are first of the block, the professional grievers thumping their chests with the Booohooo #GoneTooSoon, Booohooo #YouWillBe Missed, Boohoohoo #YouAreInABetterPlace. They weep the loudest, but are rarely seen at funerals. Theirs are Twitter tears.

The 'I Was Wronged Too' victim: This narcissist uses this death to tell us his/her life story, a 'It happened to me too' tale, ranting about how they themselves went through the same ordeal, raving about facing the same enemies, but had the strength and will power to come through.

The Scorned Ex-lover: Very often this spurned spouse is a one-film wonder, looking for some publicity. This person has saved WhatsApp messages that date back several years, to let us know how they were wronged. However, at the time of the suicide, they begin not with barbs but with bouquets of memories, photos of happier times, their PR company introduces the goriness later."

The FIR guy: This nondescript '5 minutes of fame seeker' usually comes out of left field. Someone from the victim's hometown who'll file an FIR against anyone s/he feels like. And, you wonder, "Dude, you live in Lucknow, they resided in Lokhandwala. How do you know? Did they confide in you?"The Witchhunter/s: This is a varied bunch, can be a bhakt, a disgruntled fan (who was refused a selfie, or a rejected stalker) or just a mediaperson, looking for 'breaking news' prepared to break up a family for a story. They just go after a soft target, make their life a living hell, find them guilty, help the cops make a case. True 'investigative journalism'.

The Snitch: This specimen, is a true betrayer. His thinking and rationale—"the coast is clear, no confidentiality agreement was signed, sure he told me in confidence, but he's dead and I need the publicity, so, let me share some of his/her secrets about his depression, till I sink back into oblivion".

The Late Latif: And finally, there is the "best friend", usually not a celeb or a hitherto social media savvy person, but they claim to know the victim like no one else, posting photos of themselves on Instagram. They vent their anger at all the 'pretenders' who subsequently retaliate, and a new soap
opera begins.

A celeb kills himself. Boring. We want a villain punished, even if there isn't one. Suicide just isn't a script with box office possibilities. Suicide is dull. Suicide is a festival film at best. Now, murder. That's a super hit.

Rahul daCunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahul.dacunha@mid-day.com

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