Rayon Mag's Salva Mubarak On Finding Humour In Everyday Lifeby | February 15, 2020
Effectively disrupting popular media narratives and offering a refreshing twist to the clickbait culture, Salva Mubarak is here to provide you with all the tea, in her characteristic style of course. And what's that you ask? She calls it a "coping mechanism," we call it cool. In any case, the strong vein of humour and playful satire in everything that goes on Salva's parody media platform, Rayon is absolutely unmissable.
For her, it all started with Virat and Anushka's 'fairytale wedding'. She shares, "I had just left my job and had absolutely no idea about what I was going to do next. That’s when the wedding happened! The kind of attention it got was extraordinary. I have been a big fan of Onion and Reductress for a long time and while scrolling through all the rosy narratives, I felt like there was a space to find humour. I had to do something about it. I thought, ‘What’s the harm? It’s not like I have a job'." Thus Rayon was conceived.
The past year proved to be especially monumental for Salva as her magazine scaled up in popularity and found its niche in the contemporary discourse. In this interview with Luxeva, she talks about Rayon's current positioning in new media, the importance of finding humour in everyday life, the flip side of meme culture, and more.
Luxeva: How would you say that 2019 was a momentous year for you?
Salva Mubarak: “I think of it as the year when I started having fun with Rayon. I launched this magazine right at the end of 2017, then 2018 was spent in discovering my footing and 2019 was the year when people started understanding our work and we finally developed a community that could associate with our content.”
Luxeva: Yes, it was indeed the year when Rayon finally blew up. How did you navigate it all and how did it define the direction of the magazine?
Salva Mubarak: “The past year has helped me understand my audience and become more receptive to them. I have become more careful in terms of the content that goes out, the kind of reach it has, and the diverse audience that consumes it. It was a bit of an adjustment at the start and I would become very defensive of the content that I was putting out. I would find myself saying things like, ‘No, this is how I think’. However, lately, I have learned to accept that sometimes it might not come across as how you intend it to. I have realised that there are other voices, there are other experiences, there are other people and I need to be cognizant of them.”
Luxeva: You mentioned something about a community. Do you have a team? How do you manage the content?
Salva Mubarak: “It is just me at the moment and, at times, it gets detrimental because I am doing it all. There are no other voices to contribute. It’s like a full-time job. I do have a couple of freelancers who contribute occasionally but mostly it’s just me who decides on the content. I am looking for more people now.”
Luxeva: Posting Bollywood memes in India also means ruffling some feathers given the kind of fandom celebs enjoy here. How difficult has it been on that front? How do you deal with online trolls?
Salva Mubarak: “I have had my share of trolling from Bollywood fans while working for other magazines way before I started Rayon. It has just become a little bit more personal now.
While none of what I do comes from a malicious place, there are those who miss out on the satire and take it literally. A lot of them, especially all these celebrity fan clubs hound me at times or report my posts. That kind of reaction obviously affects me but I have stopped taking it personally. I just ignore it. But lately, it's getting more political and the reactions aren't what I expect. But one needs to realise that these trolls probably don’t have a lot of work right now so there's no point in taking it personally.”
Luxeva: It is a strong vein of genuine humour that makes Rayon all that it is. Looks like it comes quite naturally to you. How do you find humour in everyday life?
Salva Mubarak: “I have always been like this. It has been my mechanism to deal with a lot of situations. It’s pretty sad when you actually think about it but I have been one of those people who need to be different to get attention, and humour serves the purpose for me. That's how it started but it has become more of a coping mechanism. I am terrible at dealing with emotional situations and humour is my response to everything now.”
Luxeva: If you think about it, meme culture has forced us to have important conversations through humour. How do you think the culture has impacted the current media discourse?
Salva Mubarak: “There is a bad and a good side to it. The good side is that it has made us a bit more accessible. I think it has made the discourse more approachable to everyone. There is no parameter to who has access to these memes right? Anybody can access these and anybody can make these. It has provided us with a way of coping with everything that is going on and talk about it as well. On the bad side, however, it has desensitized us to a lot of things. Any shocking news can get reduced to an edgy meme now. We laugh and then we just forget about it. That's something we need to be careful of.”
Luxeva: Rayon has made its place as a parody media platform today. How do you envision it from this point? What’s next?
Salva Mubarak: “My plan is to evolve into multimedia because we are currently operating in a limited space. Right now, it is considered to be a Bollywood platform but I’d like to try other things as well including video formats, podcasts, etc.”
Luxeva: What stereotypes in current times bug you?
Salva Mubarak: “People often assume that I am a man. Why would you automatically assume that? I think it is pretty ridiculous and it has happened a lot over the years.”
Luxeva: What is the best piece of advice you have received and abide by?
Salva Mubarak: “There are two. First would be: If it is not going to be a problem five years from now, don’t worry about it. Second would be: There would be a lot of people who don’t like you and then there would be a lot of them who will. And all you need to do is just focus on yourself without being selfish about your impact on the system.”
Luxeva: What would you say is your superpower?
Salva Mubarak: “There could be an apocalypse happening around me and I can still manage to stay super calm. That’s probably because I am half dead inside but it works most of the time.”
Featured Image: Rayon on Instagram