There are days when I feel like tearing my hair out and never leave my flat. I’ll just return to the world when my hair grows out again. But following my better judgement, I’m going to have to recover from an agonisingly disappointing week for a couple of days with delicious cooking, fine entertainment on TV and coffee. So in the meantime, here are some stories that got me smiling (a little) the last few days.
Yours grumpily with love,
Nirpal Dhaliwal tears apart Amitabh Bachan’s huge ego in his piece, Slumdog Millionare could only been made by a Westerner:
The bitter truth is, Slumdog Millionaire could only have been made by westerners. The talent exists in India for such movies: much of it, like the brilliant actor Irrfan Khan, contributed to this film. But Bollywood producers, fixated with making flimsy films about the lives of the middle class, will never throw their weight behind such projects. Like Bachchan, they are too blind to what India really is to deal with it. Poor Indians, like those in Slumdog, do not constitute India’s “murky underbelly” as Bachchan moronically describes them. They, in fact, are the nation.
In Gaza and the liberal conscience V: The lessons for Malaysia, Farish Noor criqitues Malaysia’s love of instant economic gratification juxtaposed against the country’s decision to boycott American goods in protest over US support for Israel:
Understandably a large section of the Malaysian public is perturbed by all this talk of boycotts and are now panicking at the prospect of having their lifestyles compromised. What might happen, they wonder, if fast-food outlets selling junk food (and its not called junk food for nothing you know) are shut down? Worse still, what will happen to Malaysian workers if American companies start pulling out? And what will happen if the threat of boycotts come true?
Say farewell to Bush with a goodbye shoe at My Ecdysis:
Suppose another country invaded our land in the name of democracy and freedom, and through years and years of violence, shed blood on the bones of civilians and children who were never officially counted or reported about in the news. Might you, filled to the depths of your soul with death and injustice, throw your shoes?
Tammy Oler at Bitch actually saw Bride Wars and lived to tell the tale:
Bride Wars is tedious and the characters are the worst kind of cliches. All of the supporting female characters are miserable: bitterly and unhappily single, or bitterly and unhappliy married, or bitterly and unhappily divorced. The film’s narrator is a tyrannical wedding planner (played by Candice Bergen) who tells Liv and Emma, “A wedding marks the first day of the rest of your life. You have been dead until now.” In a smart satire, that kind of line would be hilarious critique; in Bride Wars, it’s an unfunny statement of the film’s retrograde politics. And on top of all of this, the film is pretty boring, too.
Sea kittens? They’re delicious! But seriously, does PETA really think that re-naming fish ‘sea kittens’ is going to end the mistreatment and eventual eating of those delightfully cute and furry creatures, whoops I mean, scaly and rather wet things? Ingrid Newkirk defends on the behalf of PETA:
We felt that when your name can also be used as a verb that means driving a hook through your head, it’s time for a serious image overhaul.
To add to the Dhaliwal piece, I doubt the Indian gov’t would allow for Bollywood to make a film like Slumdog Millionaire, as there is heavy censorship here. SM is supposed to open here soon, and people are wondering what will be cut from the film as objectionable by the censor board. I don’t entirely agree w/ her assessment that Bollywood is blind to the reality of most people in India, at least not anymore than Hollywood fails to depict the reality of what life is like for most Americans. This is why there are also independently produced films (Firaaq, for example, which is brilliant) here and in the US, to show “real life” instead of a fantasy land. I told my partner the other day that I feel like Bollywood functions as a sort of Disneyworld because people know it’s completely contrived and terrible, but they love it anyway for the feeling it gives them, the escape from the pollution, the ever-present honking of car horns, the extremely visible poverty, the violence of religious conflict, etc.
I also think it’s important to point out that Boyle did not do this film alone. In fact, his co-director Loveleen Tandan deserves a lot of credit for her influence on the film: choosing most of the cast, primary communicator with the cast and crew (given Boyle’s inability to speak Hindi), convincing Boyle that the film should be partially in Hindi (it’s 1/3 in Hindi) as it was originally supposed to be entirely in English, correcting cultural errors, etc. But I guess all of that stuff doesn’t matter to the media machine, right?
I haven’t seen Slumdog Millionaire so I wouldn’t be too sure about what the Indian government might be sensitive about. As far as I know, more sexual scenes in film have been slowly permeating in Bollywood without being censored too heavily. Some countries would be careful to not portray religious/racial tensions in film, but Firaaq is about Hindu-Muslim conflict and even begins with the massacre of Muslims in Ahmadebad. In my own country, Malaysia, is simmering with racial tension for decades; the lid is tightly closed by erasing all official memory of the violent Malay-Indian clashes of May 13th in 1969 – no film was allowed to depict these events. We also have very tightly regulated censorship laws.
Bachan’s comments ignores the reality of Mumbai and the vast disparity between the rich and poor. It exposes the sad fact that people like him live in a kind of bubble, and that India continues to need more fantasy to pull more wool over the nation’s eyes.