Monthly Archives: January 2016
By now, everyone’s brown twitter has been blowing up on the disappointingly bland song #hymnfortheweekend.
There are some rather golden comments made in 142 characters (or less) both praising and deriding the video.
@DeepakNarang9 hits the nail on the head with this one, though.
The idea of #culturalappropriation is naturally being twitter-debated with all the skill and gusto of the RNC Presidential Debates. Or am I being unfair to the RNC? Some people see nothing wrong with ‘appreciating a culture for what it is;” some people are just happy to see the subcontinent in Western pop culture at all, while others are saying just shut up and enjoy the music.
The problem within these comments is that they gloss over somewhat imperialist, racist, and straight up inappropriate portions of the video (let alone the music itself – but that is for another article on ‘U2 with a piano’).
With a population of over a billion, 5 metro areas with a larger population than the London metro area (each with its own culture, language and traditions), Ben Mor and Chris Martin had a lot of options when it came to exploring and portraying India. Instead of selecting the land’s natural beauty, or any of so many vibrant cities, or even a rural, agricultural India where a large percentage of its population still exists, they chose a slum of Mumbai. Having a Brit portraying India in this 1942-era really made me think that some folks in Her Majesty’s lands really need to let it go. Those old projectors, dingy theaters, travelling Ramayana shows are all associated with colonial/post-colonial India. I guess we should thank our stars that they didn’t show the nice white man giving sweets/candy to the poor little orphans. If they wanted to actually show Mumbai (let alone India), they could have shown how different people live within 100’s of meters from each other; Mumbai has over 10 million cell phones; 6 million people ride the train system every day; dabbahwallas deliver over 160,000 tiffins every day; etc, etc. We then could be talking about income inequality/technological progress/new and old traditions/mixed cultures and religions/etc etc. Instead, we got Lord Mountbatten’s progeny bringing joy and happiness to those (literally) still living in the last days of the Raj.
Beyonce does not have a good look in this video, I hope the Bey Hive isn’t gonna come after me, but she should have known better! Everything from her outfits to her hand gestures just fell flat. There was nothing fierce about it, nothing showing Beyonce. It was just another example of the white gaze, just being done with someone who normally isn’t in that position. The sad part is that Beyonce could have stayed Beyonce – they got the highest paid Indian actress Sonam Kapoor to be in the video. Why not let her just be the recipient/manifestation of the white gaze? Kapoor was barely in the thing for 10 seconds.
I also *love* how they told the kids to play holi – because, you know, god forbid there is ANYTHING done with India/in India/with Indians/whatever without color. Otherwise how can you tell that the natives are having fun?! Can we please get something else to show joy/fun? How about an amusement park? Hanging out by the beach? Indians are regular people. We manifest joy in so many ways. Even when there isn’t any powder in sight- colored, or the white kind.
This video plays to cheap caricatures of India that have been around for many decades. White man in poor slum. Females only represented in Bollywood or hiding demurely in a room (where they belong). Non-South Asian women wearing Bollywood clothes. South Asians playing with colored powder. British Raj-era local amusements. Religious symbols.
Maybe they should have invited Taylor Swift and Iggy Azalea and they could have all gone to an Indian wedding and then a safari.
Guest Writer Shrenik Sanghvi- Special to usindiamonitor
The dire importance of the rebuttal to Obama’s 2016 State of the Union speech tonight was not lost on the Republican party. With the Iowa caucuses just days away and a reasonable expectation that Obama’s speech would be one of his best yet, the GOP did something that I consider to be a pretty smart move (of which there have been few lately). For the first time, they had an Indian-American woman deliver the SOTU rebuttal on live TV tonight, and a reliably conservative one at that. And South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was up to the task.
What dramatically separated her rebuttal speech from most of the nasty GOP rhetoric in this election season was her dramatic positivity, which was more in line with Obama’s own speech. This was the most positive rebuttal to any of Obama’s SOTU speeches by far. Without specifically naming Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, she asked her fellow right wingers to “turn down the volume” and not fall in line behind those who bark the loudest. There could be no doubt that her party brought Haley out in front of the cameras out of a deep fear of the Republican regicide playing out in the polling, and potentially in the primaries.
Nikki Haley did her job successfully. She threaded the needle by trying to herd the audience somewhere between Obama and Trump. She admitted that Republicans shared some of the blame for the way things are- while still criticizing Obama and his Democratic allies, and asking that Americans work together towards better, pragmatic solutions on health care, or immigration. In effect, she was a very able mouthpiece for the Republican establishment tonight. However, like most of the Obama SOTU rebuttals I’ve seen, there was very little discussion of policy. But policy probably wasn’t her purpose this evening.
Despite Haley’s very strong night, it may be too late for the GOP establishment to maintain control over the primary process. There is a real chance that Trump and/or Cruz, neither of whom the establishment wants to see winning the nomination, will win most, if not all of the early primary states this winter. In the meanwhile, we expect that talk of Haley being chosen as the running mate of the eventual primary winner- largely because of her Indian-American background- will continue to brew. We welcome that.
After all, she does look good with a gun.
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor