Category Archives: Culture

From BuzzFeed: A Pakistani Points Out Six Homeland Fails

homeland season 4 poster

I’ve already mentioned my frustration with Homeland in an earlier post. Now BuzzFeed is doing the same with the help of Pakistani activist, lawyer, and independent politician Mohammad Jibran Nasir. Given his experiences and pedigree, Nasir is able to pinpoint all that is wrong ranging from the ill-researched (language,clothing) to the downright offensive (naming the big bad after the Pakistani ambassador to the U.S.).

When you depict/reference other cultures in your programming, you owe them the due process of accurate portrayal. In fact, such flaws demote the overall quality of an otherwise well-written show.

Judging by the video, Nasir only viewed the two-part season 4 opener. Things remained checkered at best further down the season. Durban was in no way a suitable stand-in for Islamabad. Ayaan’s girlfriend not only struggled with legible Urdu, but her ‘accented’ English had the most peculiar lilt to it. Conversely, props to Nimrat Kaur who played ISI agent Tasneem Qureishi brilliantly, for getting the performance AND the language down pat.

P.S. Check out Mohammad Jibran Nasir’s initiative NeverForgetPakistan.com

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Amy Schumer’s Video Speaks The Brutal Truth

Here’s a brilliant skit from Inside Amy Schumer where Julia Louis-Dreyfus joins Tina Fey and Patricia Arquette to celebrate her ‘last f**kable day’ as mandated by the media. It’s a satirical reflection of the entertainment industry’s not-so-latent ageism and misogyny.

Female actors of a certain age will either get relegated to pointless roles or be forgotten altogether in favor of young ingenues. There’s also the mention of how women will be considered ‘too old’ to be paired opposite male actors (who have no such day) twice their age. Special points for mentioning how Sally Field graduated from playing Tom Hanks’ girlfriend to his mother!

If you too feel that such treatment of women and squandering of their skill needs to stop, then watch the hilariously honest video:

My Latest Piece of Writing – Put An End To The #KylieJennerLips Nonsense

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Just wrote and published this piece in Style Vault Dubai that talks about how unsafe, racially insensitive, and plain idiotic this new trend with sucking on a shot glass to make your lips bigger is. Not only did I get to write a heartfelt piece, I got to quote Paul Mooney! Read it and reflect here:

http://www.stylevaultdubai.com/?p=1975

What BuzzFeed can learn from Time, USA Today, and MTV. A Great Longform Read.

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This amazing analytical piece of writing in The Atlantic talks about the cultural phenomenon that is BuzzFeed and how it emulates the cultural benchmarks set by three previous iconoclastic media establishments : Time, USA Today, and MTV. Each of those were written off by more ‘serious’ rivals as an exercise in dumbing down but persistently weaved themselves into the cultural fabric as a foremost means of mass communication. Each also benefited from the rising tide of the dominant medium, which today is the internet (DUH!). The piece talks about what lessons BuzzFeed can learn from those spiritual predecessors and how it can try to remain relevant in an ever-changing media climate. The parallels drawn are surprisingly accurate:

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/04/the-eternal-return-of-buzzfeed/390270/?utm_source=SFTwitter

P.S. Shani Hilton really is amazing!

Trailer Reaction – Amy

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Back To Black was a VERY important album, and not just for the mainstream music soundscape. It was an important album to me personally. The Neo-Jazz rhythms, the unflinchingly honest and emotional lyrics, and Amy Winehouse’s Soul-chanteuse vocals. It was easily one of my ‘formative years’ records, and my introduction to a whole new musical world. I got into all kinds of Jazz from all eras thanks to this album’s push. Love her or hate her, Amy Winehouse was a unique artist. There’s still that ever-present buzz in the music aficionado sphere that the Adeles and Duffys owe their big breaks to Winehouse’s first step. Goes without saying that Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi worked wonders with the production.

Okay, enough about the seminal record and more about the trailer. Amy, directed by Asif Kapadia is already looking like a cinematic experience. A humanized portrayal without the Lifetime biopic melodrama. A rise-and-fall chronicle without the True Hollywood Stories sensationalism. I like that the trailer has audio of a young and personable Amy rather than the incoherent, drug-addled mess she became later on. I also love the studio session of Back To Black in the background that gives the song a dark edge.

This is on my 2015 MUST-WATCH and I know tears will fall from my eyes while doing that. Enjoy the trailer here!:

Really Deadline?

Empire

Deadline has stooped to Alessandra Stanley-an lows with a horrible new piece by Nellie Andreeva implying that the increase in diverse casting for Pilot Season is possibly a bad thing because A) It means that actors of color will steal opportunities away from White actors out of “tokenism” and B) Too much diversity might be too much too soon (Over 70 years of TV can’t be ‘soon’ though).

Problem is that is most people STILL have a superficial understanding of diversity casting and what it means. Most (predominantly White) decision-makers see it as a business model rather than a way to view a wider range of stories and perspectives.

I still feel that a big way to bring the change on-camera is by diversifying voices BEHIND it. More writers, producers, directors, execs of color will make stronger decisions, and those decisions will stick. After The Cosby Show, rip-off sitcoms about Black families were tested for about three TV seasons after which the motif was abandoned because it wasn’t working. What DID work was A Different World, which told a different story despite being a Cosby spinoff. And back in 2002 when Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won Oscars in the same year, there was a brief increase in roles for Black actors, but cast mostly in those two not-so-positive molds.

The fact that this season’s breakout hits include Empire, Fresh Off The Boat, and Jane The Virgin as well as other shows with diverse casts speaks volumes about what people want to see as opposed to what Andreeva and some others think they want to see. Next fall will see television being the most diverse it has ever been, and Deadline should know that by writing this, they are causing potential damage and regression.

The article’s ‘These People’ POV has drawn the social media ire and rightfully so:

These tweets sum up a LOT of what I, and I’m sure a lot of others feel. And here’s the nonsensical article that’s been inducing some serious cringe:
http://deadline.com/2015/03/tv-pilots-ethnic-casting-trend-backlash-1201386511/

Happy International Women’s Day!

A friend’s Facebook post recently pointed out that ideological movements like feminism have taken so long to prevail because the global culture deems it more important to publicly identify as a feminist than to actually do something that combats patriarchy.

In other words, a lot of people talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. On this Women’s Day, I want to celebrate people and organizations that actually do the former and help others follow suit. Being a young man, I have personally valued initiatives that motivate male allies like myself. Here are two prime examples:

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First,there’s The Good Men Project. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that patriarchal orders oppress both genders but in different ways. Men are also negatively impacted by societal pressures like women, though the symptoms may be different.

The Good Men Project strives to redefine modern-day masculinity and encourages men to eschew stigmas that either hold them back or harbor within them as hurt.

The website frequently publishes experience-based long-form journalism and shares important articles from other sites too. This is one of their most recent, a list from RaisingGreatMen.com about raising boys as better critical thinkers.

http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/ten-tips-for-raising-a-critical-thinker-kerj/

Follow them online and show your support!

Then of course there’s Emma Watson’s HeForShe.

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Through this UN-supported, social media lionized project, Watson took on the daunting but admirable task of promoting a feminist sentiment in males and also explaining how an uneven social order with narrowly defined roles is in fact detrimental to both genders.

Though less than a year old, HeForShe has amassed a great following and has created room for crucial dialog by challenging and questioning men in every aspect of life about how they help the women around them gain acknowledgment.

My respect for this initiative is endless and in the past year, my respect for Emma Watson (already quite respectable for her intellect and talent) has increased tenfold.

To commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day, Watson represented HeForShe with a live Q&A session at Facebook which involved details on the project as well as interaction with the audience. Here it is:
https://www.facebook.com/HeForShe

If you don’t already, like HeForShe on FB and follow it on Twitter and Instagram. Trust me, you will be in distinguished company. You can also share related opinions using #HeForShe.

I hope more projects like these two come up and fight the war for gender equality in the right way. Remember that feminism is not man-hating but a belief that both genders are on the same page with privileges.

Happy International Women’s Day!