Kumail Nanjiani is a stand-up comedian, podcaster, writer, and actor probably best known for playing the character Dinesh on HBO’s “Silicon Valley” and starring in the 2017 romantic comedy “The Big Sick,” which he co-wrote with his wife.
The movie is loosely based on his courtship with his now-wife, who was diagnosed with a serious life-threatening illness that put her in a coma a few months after they started dating. That experience, and his wife’s pre-existing condition which puts her at greater risk during the coronavirus pandemic, might explain why the actor reacted the way he did to a story from FiveThirtyEight titled “Why So Many Men Stuck With Trump in 2020.”
FiveThirtyEight writer Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux shared the story on Twitter along with the observation that, “The COVID-19 pandemic may have given [Trump] a way to reach more masculine men. Many of those men actually liked Trump’s ‘shrug it off’ approach.”
Her tweet prompted Nanjiani to share his opinion that, “Traditional masculinity is a disease.”
Masculinity is not a disease. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “Masculine” as “having qualities appropriate to or usually associated with a man.” By calling masculinity a disease, Nanjiani is decrying the very nature of all men. And he was roasted for it.
What’s ironic about his comment decrying traditional masculinity is that Nanjiani got absolutely jacked for his role in the upcoming Marvel superhero movie “The Eternals.” (He revealed the surprising body transformation when he posted a shirtless photo to Instagram showcasing ripped arms, shredded abs, and grotesquely bulging veins.)
In response to another Instagram post, people questioned whether Nanjiani took steroids to help build muscle, leading to a plethora of articles about how fans are “body shaming” the actor for the new look. (It’s fair to speculate: even with a strict diet, personal trainer, and strenuous exercise, it’s difficult to see how a man in his 40s could go from playing a normal-looking, somewhat doughy and noodle-armed computer nerd, to superhero physique, without some amount of hormonal assistance.)
The actor Rob McElhenney put out a humorous video explaining how he transformed his body (first he gained about 50 pounds, then he lost it and got shredded) for a story arc involving his character Mac on “It’s Always Sunny.” In the video, McElhenney also referenced Nanjiani’s transformation and seemed to suggest (while technically still denying it) that both he and Nanjiani used steroids.