The Image of Women

Jinga Desai in her article “Planet Bollywood: Indian Cinema Abroad” talks about how movies help the different generations, mostly the second and third generations, learn about their culture and get more connected through movies. There was one paragraph which I found to be especially interesting. Towards the end of the reading, Desai talks about how it is usually the women who save the males from “Western contamination” by being traditional and culturally authentic Indian women. They embody “Indianness” and are the ones who are the ones used to create connections to the nation, between families, and the culture. This could be an ideology of how Indian parents want their daughters to be, and they hope the daughters subconsciously learn by watching these movies.

However, in “Bollywood Confidential” by Sonia Singh, I almost got the opposite feeling. The main character, Raveena, goes to Bollywood for a main role, which is considered a step down compared to Hollywood. It is often thought that in order to get the main role, the actress sleeps with the director (much like what Bani Sen automatically thought was going on between Raveena and Randy Kapoor). This almost seems to show a woman’s weakness, and how she is disrespected by men. It is also said that during movie screenings, males are stomping their feet, whistling at the actresses on the screen, or even at times shouting crude remarks at them. This in part is because women in these movies are portrayed to be more seductive and scandalous. In “Bollywood Confidential”, I never got the idea that Raveena was embodying “Indianness”, or doing anything to show the real Indian culture. The change in the style of dancing and outfits they wear further enforce the idea of them almost being visual objects.

Being Indian and having watched Bollywood movies growing up, I could slowly see the transition from older, more cultured movies to a more scandalous generation. Perhaps Indian movies are having their women get more scandalous and less traditional because of the difference in ideologies by the generations. While older generations may have focused on women being gentle and cultured, newer generations may want a newer type of woman. This idea of a woman being more crude and almost sexual in a way could show womens’ dominance. The fact that these types of outfits and new roles lead men to act in ridiculous ways shows that while it is true the image of woman may be slightly tarnished, she has a power over men. This could be a major reason that older and newer generations clash. Older generations almost seem to want the women to be less dominant and to listen to their husbands and parents, while newer generations like a more outgoing woman who can take care of herself. It is definitely sad that Bollywood movies have come down to this, but with the way the generation is and the popular demand of these movies, I do not see them going back to the way they were any time soon.

Hi there :)

Hi everyone! My name is Meha Munshi and I will be a 4th year this upcoming fall, pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies. I can’t say that i’ve had a “favorite” example of Asian American popular culture. When I was younger I occasionally watched Pokemon, which I believe originated in Japan, and would also play Pokemon video games. As a kid I was also interested in Hello Kitty. Currently, I am interested in yoga which originated from India. Although most people consider India to not be a part of Asia, it is (South Asia). In fact, parts of Russia and what is considered to be the middle east is also part of Asia, although many people don’t think of them to be. Henna tattoos, which are becoming more and more popular, could be considered Asian American popular culture, which I learned how to do to get closer to my culture.

To me, popular culture is much more than just TV shows or music groups. I believe popular culture to be anything related to the culture that is mainstream. This could include food, sports, special fads or trends, activities, clothing, celebrities, etc. Popular culture to me is almost an overhype by society and the media of a specific part of a different culture, and sometimes seems to “dumb down” certain parts of the culture for it to be more accepted and mainstream in other parts of the world. For Asian American popular culture, it would be the sudden interest in all of the previous things I listed, from Asia. It almost seems that anything considered to be “exotic” could be considered popular culture, because often times we try to imitate what we consider to be “exotic” and different. Studying different ethnic or minor community’s cultural production is important for many different reasons. First off, often times these productions can raise awareness about certain cultural stereotypes, which people can then educate themselves on. Also, many times a community’s cultural production will have some historical reference, which can raise awareness to that community’s past and possible hardships they may have faced.