Hmm. After a week of contemplation, I feel the need to express myself. Last Wednesday I saw a former classmate who I have always admired. She’s a strong activist and is directly involved in multiple groups advocating social justice, sustainable living, feminism, LGBTQ issues, recognizing classism, etc. When I saw her, I noticed really intricate mehndi/henna on her hands, so I asked her if she went to a wedding. Her response was that no, she just had it done at a folk festival by a ‘hippie’ who, while doing the mehndi, was discussing how much she hated the appropriation of hippie culture. After explaining that, my former classmate (with the tone of embarrassment) mentioned that it was in that moment she became aware of her own appropriation (it is here that I mention that she is not South Asian, but rather, white with strong European roots). It was within this conversation that I realized why, in the many intersections of social justice and activism and calls for equality, I will always emphasize the racial and cultural angle (and the racial and cultural misunderstanding, mistreatment, appropriation, and stereotyping) of an issue. It is because, while there are many good activists, academics and leaders out there who promote and fight for important and crucially necessary changes, it is too often that I see racially significant details and culturally offensive behaviours and actions as an after thought. I firmly believe in fighting for all aspects of social justice, and I strongly advocate for intersectional understanding. But I will always be there to ask how racial and cultural difference factor into an issue.
In the past – and much to our collective irritation – the only Indian cinema that earned any respect in the US was of the serious kind. Movie critics would swoon over the likes of Satyajit Ray, while disdaining our mainstream movies as over-the-top escapist trash. Finally, commercial Hindi movies are getting the respect they deserve…
Well, “respect” may be the wrong word. Bollywood is now the official bimbo of the international film scene. No one cares what our movies say as long as they look good and offer mindless fun. In fact, that’s our designated job according the kitsch-is-cool pose adopted by American critics. Cartoonish characters, absurd plotlines and bad dialogue? Thank you, that’s exactly what we ordered, with a giant serving of exotic locales, dance numbers, and costumes, please!
In American eyes, Bollywood becomes the cinematic equivalent of going to the circus. Bring on the clowns, the jugglers, the crazy acrobatics—and you get a pass on the stuff that real movies are judged on. And so it is that Ra.One which is almost universally panned by Indian critics for its clunky acting and weak plot gets rave reviews in the United States.
The underlying message is that “serious” cinema is best left to those who know how—in Hollywood, France, even Iran. Our job on the international cinema stage is simple: look pretty and play dumb.
Oh rascal children of Gaza. You who constantly disturbed me with your screams under my window. You who filled every morning with rush and chaos. You who broke my vase and stole the lonely flower on my balcony. Come back, and scream as you want and break all the vases. Steal all the flowers. Come back..Just come back..
Khaled Juma, a Palestinian poet from Gaza. (via nowinexile)
جان/jan/jān/jaan [jan](noun) Jan/jaan is one of those specials words which lends itself across cultures and languages as a term of endearment and affection meaning, love, dear, heart, and life in East Asia. Arab/Persian: In Arabic, jan represents beloved one or dear. The Persian origins of this word mean life, equivalent to the Punjabi and Hindi definition. Calling a person your jaan, in comparison to the Arab and Persian culture, in South East Asian countries is an act of true love and intimiacy, and not used as liberally as the Persian connotation. Its true origins stem from Sanskrit. In Urdu you often refer to your lover and those your are close to as “meri jaan [meh-ree jan],” also meaning my life, and my dear. It has a deeper emotional meaning than merely calling someone your love, or sweetheart; it is used in the essence of true love. (via rabbrakha)