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Brown Girl Responds to ‘The Cut’ Essay About Priyanka Chopra Scamming Nick Jonas Into Marriage

8 min read

The Cut recently published an article entitled “Is Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’s Love For Real?” which theorized that Priyanka Chopra was a “modern-day scam artist” who trapped Jonas in an over-indulgent marriage for her own benefit. The article was taken down after severe backlash but the cached version still exists. The Cut has since apologized for the article, and finally, as of December 7th, the author, herself, has also apologized. We at Brown Girl feel compelled, nonetheless, to share our thoughts on the article, the fact that it was even written at all, and how western media has covered Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’s wedding celebrations in general.

Misrepresentation and Ignorance

From the beginning, I had mixed feelings about Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’ relationship. Though Nick has proved to be wise beyond his years, Priyanka comes across as more mature and sophisticated. At the end of the day, who am I to judge someone else’s relationship? I truly wish them well in their new life together, unlike the writer of a recent article from The Cut.

The writer insulted Nick Jonas’ intelligence by assuming he could be “scammed” into a marriage and misrepresents Priyanka Chopra’s success by alleging that the actress plotted this marriage as her claim to fame. Sadly, this article doesn’t surprise me because when women of color attract intense worldwide attention, there are always attempts to discredit their achievements. For those who aren’t aware, Priyanka Chopra has been a household name for South Asians in the subcontinent and within the diaspora for almost two decades. It is actually Nick Jonas who is gaining more global prominence, as he’s now been affectionately claimed as India’s national jiju.

The writer of the article also contradicted herself several times. For example, she writes that she was offended the sangeet wasn’t televised because she wanted to see the families perform together but later on includes the following statement: “Nick and Priyanka have let fans know some of the most intimate details of their wedding. Through their social-media posts and a People magazine cover, nothing has been left up to speculation.”

Many have asserted that Priyanka and Nick’s marriage has broken many boundaries. I wholeheartedly agree, but you would never know by most of the mainstream media coverage in the U.S. Media outlets have focused mainly on pictures and clips from Priyanka and Nick’s Christian ceremony. There is little celebration of Priyanka’s cultural background, and while there have also been several articles published in the last week on the Hindu faith and the numerous events customary in Hindu weddings, the media continues to demonstrate a general lack of understanding of the Indian culture and Hindu traditions. There’s much work to be done on all accounts. — Gabrielle Deonath

Now Is The Time for Research

Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the fact that Priyanka Chopra is now a household name for most Americans and not just those connected to Bollywood, but I didn’t anticipate issues with coverage of her wedding to Nick Jonas. The Cut’s piece calling Priyanka a “global scam artist” was a rude awakening. It was based on the ill-informed idea that Priyanka is an international superstar awash in privilege and magically exempt from racism, the article is (was — R.I.P.) inherently racist, bigoted, and ignorant.

I don’t want to dignify the nastiness in this article with further response, but I want to point out that, at a minimum, it was just bad. The writer called Priyanka a “scam artist” but had no actual evidence to support this wild accusation. She criticized Chopra for spending money on luxuries as if she is the only wealthy person in the world who has ever indulged in her affluence. The writer makes a number of speculations seemingly out of thin air (like that Jonas might not have been comfortable riding a horse), and then does nothing to support them (turns out she doesn’t know if he’s bad with horses — she just wants us to know it’s possible!).

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And forever starts now… ?? @nickjonas

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Most of the coverage of the Chopra/Jonas wedding (are we really set on “Nickyanka?” Even when I worked so hard on Jo-pra??) is just fine and appropriately gushy about a celebrity wedding, but there are lapses in which you realize that most coverage is coming from writers and editors who aren’t familiar with Bollywood or Indian culture, and didn’t seem to bother to look anything up.

People Magazine’s epic wedding video inexplicably used an almost-unwatchable clip from Chopra’s 2006 film Aap Ki Khatir (yeah, I hadn’t heard of it either), perhaps due to legal restrictions, but still. I doubt this was the only clip available in Chopra’s entire filmography. There’s also a hilarious photo caption from the mehndi (where no one is actually wearing mehndi!) that describes Sophie Turner wearing a “cropped dress”. This is not a thing in India, nor is it a thing likely anywhere else in the world (crop top would at least have been objectively correct, even if the caption doesn’t bother with the existence of lehengas).

Of course, we can’t all be experts, but this is the time to do research. This is the time to type “Indian formal wear” into Google, or watch a Priyanka Chopra movie, or even just ask your Indian friend some questions for clarification. And if the editors at people and the writer of The Cut article don’t have Indian friends, get one. Seriously, there’s loads of us. — Proma Khosla

Narrowness of Worldview

You know what the problem is? Not just with this write up (although this take is the absolute worst) but with other blogs, and many comments on various gossip websites about the coverage of  Priyanka and Nick’s wedding? The authors don’t realize or recognize the narrowness of their worldview. They don’t know what they don’t know, and are so arrogant about their ignorance.

How else can we explain the complete lack of understanding that South Asian weddings in general, Punjabi weddings in particular, and Bollywood everything, is extra AF?

We don’t just bask in our extra-ness, we don’t just crave the extra-ness, we celebrate the extra-ness to a whole other level!

Yes, I know I’m generalizing, and not everyone wants to go big or go home when it comes to their wedding, myself included (but you better believe that if Vicky Kaushal ever said yes, we’d have the ceremony in a Scottish castle or something).

Nevertheless, what I’m saying is still relevant. And it’s much more relevant than the nonsense in this piece.

A wedding is a celebration. It’s the coming together of two people and two families. This warrants some form of celebration across cultures the world over, and this is no different in India. The difference is that in India the definition of family isn’t just the nuclear family we’re familiar with here in North America. No, it includes first, second, third, and fourth cousins at all levels! The definition of family is wide enough to include all of the people of your village and any person that happened to be visiting said village. Our celebrations include everyone.

The wedding, various ceremonies, the celebrations are many. If it’s a melding of two cultures, showing respect to both cultures sometimes requires two ceremonies. Several of my family and friends have done this, and it’s beautiful. Priyanka and Nick having two ceremonies made sense for them, and was a beautiful gesture to each other’s families.

Priyanka Chopra is Punjabi. She is the first born and only daughter of her family. She’s also a megastar in Bollywood. She was never going to have a quiet little backyard shindig with her closest family and friends.

The biggest Bollywood superstars — the Shah Rukh Khans and Amitabh Bachchans — routinely greet the thousands of fans that congregate outside of their homes with a wave, and sometimes sweets and snacks. It’s a custom that doesn’t quite have a parallel in Hollywood, where privacy is guarded tightly. In fact, stars who make attempts to guard their privacy during big celebrations or events are seen as being too heavy-handed or too westernized.

So the fact that her South Asian fans would have expected more than just a glimpse of her big day, makes her publicizing it the way she has so on point for her. Remember, our celebrations include everyone!

Culturally speaking, her wedding was going to be an event. Throw in her position, her personality (she is drama and she owns it) and her incredible ambition and work ethic, it should be no surprise that she is out here leveraging all of it for her professional benefit.

Priyanka Chopra is a brand. Blending and leveraging her personal and professional selves for the advancement of both makes sense.

Look at the strategy here, folks. She got the cover of American Vogue! And sure, it’s reputation isn’t what it used to be, but it’s still Vogue. Victoria Beckham has been gunning for the cover (of the American edition) for a while and still hasn’t got it.

How many women of color have been on the cover? Who are these women? Oprah, Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Michelle Obama. Priyanka made it through their (cough cough racist cough cough) vetting process, which apparently only lets WoC’s grace the cover if they are so humongous and too important globally to be ignored. They sponsored her wedding. You better believe she got her money (hard cash or in kind via publicity).

Why? Because she IS that big of a deal!

People Magazine got an exclusive too. It’s the favorite magazine of all those grocery shopping moms in Middle America. Another strategic win. It helps expands her visibility in America because she might still want to do Hollywood movies (she has three coming out next year). Remember, she doesn’t need to do American films or television since she is a true blue global Movie Star, but this type of visibility helps market her as a viable star for American consumption as well.

Some of her Bollywood contemporaries also got married recently and the ‘extra’ was evident across the board with weddings and receptions (plural!) in Italy and several cities in India. They have all been leaning heavily into professional brand management. Priyanka is a global A-lister, of course she was going to one-up them times a hundred. It’s completely on brand and within the cultural norm for her.

While the risk of overexposure is real, her team must’ve known this and planned for mitigating it. These aren’t amateur moves, people! These are the moves of a hustler who respects the hustle.

My only issue with her and her team is the complete mismanagement of her “I love the environment” stance against fireworks. How is she advocating against the use of fireworks during Diwali because of pollution, but then lighting the Rajasthani sky up for her wedding? This was a mistake.

To the author of The Cut article and any other commenters who “just don’t understand her thirst” or her “extra”, I’d like to introduce you to my good friend Google who knows everything about everything if you ask right. You should’ve asked Miss Google about PeeCee, she could have set you straight real quick.? — Sundeep Hans

WOC Struggle

Priyanka was known for her success in regards to being awarded Miss World 2000, working on two singles, and more importantly her mindset that every woman is capable of being independent. She herself would clearly bring up the fact that people always expect women to get married, but never allow them to be independent. Being the only female child, she had a huge thirst for success whether it involves her vivaciousness in films or her portrayal of an FBI agent in Quantico. Chopra has always worked hard for success herself by herself. For people to say that her marriage to Nick is solely a publicity act clearly shows to go that they honestly don’t want to see her happy. WOC are trying to make a huge impact when it comes to ground (i.e. being on the cover of Vogue, voting for equal rights, etc) and for her to be judged or labeled as a ‘gold digger’ just seems that The Cut does not want to see WOC winning, even when the article is written by a woman of color. — BG Anjali

[Read Related: Dear Nick Jonas, Here’s Your Beginner’s Guide to Bollywood]

Gracefully Agree to Disagree

As Americans, I’m proud of the fact that we have the right to freedom of speech. While writer Mariah Smith of The Cut has the right to her feelings regarding Priyanka Chopra, I think many were left in shock at the article and the pertinent information that was left out. Priyanka Chopra hails from Bollywood, the world’s leading film industry. That’s right ladies and gents, Bollywood, not Hollywood as many of us in the western world may think, is the world’s top film industry. Already having an established career and being a household name internationally Priyanka was in no need of social climbing or publicity. Her choice to crossover to Hollywood was a choice, not a need.

The article lacks genuine acknowledgment of this and paints an already-successful Priyanka as a wannabe. It was also a stretch to speak on what the writer perceives as Nick Jonas’s true feelings. The man has multiple Grammys, I think it’s safe to say he’s intelligent enough to not be duped into marriage. We see this a lot in western culture: Ignorance and unawareness reflected in an article, opinion, or comment that involves another culture. Advice: be diligent and informed before speaking or writing on any topic. I’d like to add while many are disgusted by the article let’s not bash the writer either. After all, as educated and modern-day women we can gracefully agree to disagree. — Juanita D.