And then yesterday when I woke up to The Cut’s now-removed article by Mariah Smith about how crossover star Priyanka Chopra “scammed” a young, rich and white American singer Nick Jonas into marrying her, first thing that crossed my mind was Stephens-Davidowitz’s same book that brutally unmasks some really disturbing truths about America’s age-old prejudices and its blatantly racial attitude.
The piece was indeed shocking but sadly not surprising, given the kind of hate Priyanka had been receiving over the last few months on her social media posts about how her relationship was out of the ordinary, especially by normal human standards. On the other hand, a man being older than a woman in a relationship — even if he’s decades older — often doesn’t elicit surprise. In fact, it feels like the norm, so the fact that Priyanka and Nick got hitched when she was 36 and he was ‘only 26’ has made their marriage stand out as unconvincing and suspicious– all the more so because Priyanka was brown. Like seriously?
The opening paragraph of the article, which was first “updated” and later taken down entirely with a note that read, “Upon further editorial review, we found this story did not meet our standards. We’ve removed it and apologize,” began: “Nicholas Jonas married into a fraudulent relationship against his will this past Saturday, December the 1st, and I’ll tell you why I think so.”
“All Nick wanted was a possible fling with Hollywood’s latest It Woman, but instead he wound up staring straight at a life sentence with a global scam artist,” Smith— a woman of colour herself— flagrantly expressed her explicitly ageist, racist and sexist views. Priyanka’s “scam” appears to be that she is an older woman from India who travelled to the West to exert control over a Hollywood pop sensation by using manipulative tactics.
The writer then criminalised Priyanka for splurging her “own” hard-earned money in massive diamonds and other expensive stuff. Citing one of Priyanka’s interviews with a tabloid wherein the actress said “I like the high life and work very hard for it”, Smith wrote, “Priyanka’s indulgences and what she views as necessities speak volumes to her personality and what she’ll do, or think she needs to do, for her career.” Since when did women, or for that matter anyone, start having an issue with a woman working hard and earning money that she wants to splurge on herself?
On the one hand, Smith was repetitively hitting Priyanka below the belt without offering any facts to back her claims. On the other, she was gently portraying Nick as a bottle-feeding kid who fell victim to Chopragate.
I wonder where Smith’s dedication to investigate the legitimacy of celebrity relationships was when American model Hailey Baldwin changed her name to Hailey Bieber on her Instagram after marrying Canadian popstar Justin Bieber in a secret wedding. Hey Smith, please tell us if Baldwin was also looking for publicity when she did what she did or if it was out of love.
We are assuming Smith might have thought Hailey and Justin were almost the same age and most importantly both were racially same. So obviously their relationship had to be real, even as they dated for almost the same months as Nick and Priyanka before getting engaged in July.
According to Smith, Priyanka, who is not only one of India’s highest-paid and most popular celebrities but is also among world’s most powerful women in media and entertainment, needed a former Disney star Nick Jonas in order to raise her profile globally and precisely why she wrote, “While Priyanka shops around for the finer things in life her team seems to be shopping around for the finer men.” Don’t know if there was a die-hard Nick Jonas fan girl inside Smith that made her say all what she said but in case she doesn’t know, Priyanka toiled endlessly, cheerfully, and most competently for gruelling 18 years to reach where she is today. So, dismissing her hard work like that only speaks volumes about the writer’s own mindset.
Oh wait, in the Vox interview Stephens-Davidowitz had also suggested, “people can buy my book and then anytime they’re feeling jealous they can read it and be reminded that everyone’s a mess.” Just a word to the wise.
Moreover, the article also depicted the grand traditions and customs of Indian weddings in a poor taste and mentioned that Priyanka never even took the time to make sure Nick was comfortable riding a horse before arranging one for him “to enter their wedding ceremony.” Well only if Smith had researched a little before writing her ‘investigative piece,’ she would find that Chopra did indeed make sure that her man was comfortable on a horse. In a pre-wedding interview for the January issue of US Vogue, Priyanka particularly asked Nick, “Are you comfortable on a horse?” to which he replied, “I am. I can’t wait.”
She also claimed that because Priyanka had so many #sponcon, or sponsored content, involved in her marriage (ranging from Tiffany’s to Amazon to the Google Pixel 3 phone to Ralph Lauren), it obviously cannot be real. But hey, it’s not like they are the only celebrity couple who have posed together to monetise their relationship. They did what other celebs have been doing for years, the only difference is that the two were kind enough to acknowledge it in open.
While Nick has yet to respond to the article, Priyanka reacted to it at an event in Delhi last night. She said, “I don’t even want to react or comment. It’s not even in my stratosphere. I’m in a happy place at this moment. These kinds of random things can’t disturb it.”
Meanwhile, Nick’s brother, Joe Jonas, and his fiancée, Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner came to the newlyweds’ defense by tweeting disapprovingly about the piece.
Joe posted that the Cut should be “ashamed to have someone write such evil words. What Nick & Pri have is Beautiful Love,” while Sophie called the article “wildly inappropriate and totally disgusting.”
— J O E J O N A S (@joejonas) December 5, 2018
This is wildly inappropriate and totally disgusting. Very disappointed that The Cut would give anyone a platform to spew such bullshit. https://t.co/iYKaifKJP6
— Sophie Turner (@SophieT) December 5, 2018
Smith hasn’t yet reacted to the widespread flak she has been receiving for her piece. She does seem to have deleted some of her tweets regarding the article though.