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Posts Tagged ‘political correctness.’

I was reading about the Cannes in the papers today. The reporter made a point that the jury was unapologetic in rewarding divisive films. In response to this, the British writer Hanif Qureishi commented, “Great art is hard.”

This got me thinking. Why is it that great art is hard? Why is that these days people are ready to take offence? Why have we become so intolerant of other’s views if they don’t agree with ours? People will no doubt argue that we have always been intolerant. Hell, wars have been fought over differences of opinion. These days we adopt a more civilised attitude (not in India , of course) and take the battle to court. But the idea is that we are supposed to become more evolved with time, not regress. It’s the same reason we avoid fight wars these days (not in the USA, of course).

More importantly, it got me thinking about the intrepid auteurs who dared to make such startling statements. Thinking and lauding, because, not so very long ago, I’d written a comedy on the issue of migration. But then I lost my nerve and didn’t market it. The last thing I wanted was Raj Thackeray/Muthalik and their goons picketing outside my house. Or burning copies of my books.

It’s not that I’m attached to what I write. The problem is they don’t pay for the damage. As long as you pay for it, you can do what you like with my book. Hell, you can wipe your ass with it. And tell me about it. How’s that for VFM? Move aside Michael O’Leary, Smita Jain is here!!!!

This whole political correctness movement has got artists so defensive that we’re afraid of saying anything creative anymore. I don’t know about others but speaking for myself, I’m always anxious whenever creating controversial characters. I’m always thinking, will people actually read this in the spirit in which it’s written? Or will people think the character is a flimsy cover for own bigoted ideas? Will this character involve me in a lawsuit? More often than not I opt for the safer option.

I’m no Van Gogh. I’m not willing to suffer for my art, especially when the suffering involves muchos dineros.

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Sometime ago, I had written an article on the perils and pitfalls of political correctness. Following the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, international media described the perps as assailants, gunmen, militants etc. They consciously shied away from using the word terrorists. Indian media cannot be accused of having any such qualms. Of course, they can’t be accused of objective reporting either, but that’s subject of another post.

International media’s reticence in using the word ‘terrorists’ led to confusion among readers. Were the bad guys terrorists? Were they local criminals? Were they disgruntled students who randomly opened fire?

Clark Hoyt is a the public editor at the New York times and he explains the unwillingness of reporters to apply the T word and other deprecating /condemning labels.

P.S. – this apeared in the Mumbai edition of the Hindustan Times yesterday.

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