A little while ago there was a showing of a Pakistani film advertised at the university. I was obviously interested but very much less so after reading the synopsis. It was all the worst cliches about Pakistan put into a Cinderella story line. I was unsure if I should invest the time. I am glad I decided to go as I wanted to hear the commentary from the lecturer and reactions from the other students. It was also worth watching the film for the excellent cinematography. The images of Karachi sent me back to my short stay there. I could almost feel the pleasantly warm sea breeze. The actors were also doing a really good job. But they couldn’t hide the fact that the characters were flat and there to convey a political message: Women are awesome and men are horrible and no matter how nice they seem at first, all they ever want is oppress women.
The reactions from the students were not really surprising though still quite shocking considering that their degree is supposed to provide them with more knowledge about South Asia than the general population. They are supposed to be more aware of stereotypes, their origin and their effects. But instead the first student raised her arm and enthusiastically talked about how great it was that the film had shown [insert stereotype] and [insert stereotype] and also [insert stereotype that wasn’t even in the film]. The joy in her voice and the smile on her face while talking about how the man in the movie had limited the woman’s life was remarkable. She was denigrating half the population (and by extension the other half) of a country that, by the choice of her university degree, she claimed to care about and it was giving her the greatest pleasure. If this how the people in the Asian Studies department think how can we expect anything more from the general population. It was only a student from Georgia who criticized the stereotypical depiction of men and women.
The lecturer then said that this was actually a very poor film and mainly conveyed stereotypes. She didn’t say why she had selected it and the message certainly didn’t reach the last row where the young ladies where still more than happy that their stereotypes had been confirmed. Their worldview was the right and just one and by perpetuating it they would be making the world a better place. These are the moments when I am about to lose hope in humanity but instead I have begun to just be fascinated by these people who claim to want to make the world a better place by dehumanizing half the world’s population. It makes me wonder if we as humans will always need someone to hate. These days we preach acceptance of other countries and cultures but it is still more than acceptable to hate on the men from that other culture. Maybe that is a primal need to the human species?
I am still hoping that it can be overcome and that there will be peace among humans at some point in the future. 🙂