Macchars don’t wear sweaters

Posted on: October 2, 2011

I am currently reading “Culture and Imperialism” by Edward Said, about how culture – literature and art – create the context for imperialist practices. Said, in my reading, sees culture’s support for imperialism not so much a self conscious propaganda exercise, but a deep rooted and even subconscious bias that determines how the world is perceived. Hollywood is undoubtedly one of the main cultural forces that support american global practices. However, sometimes it seems to me to be blatant propaganda. For example, today i saw Contagion, which was very good by movie standards. The movie depicted the possibility of the world overrun by a highly infectious virus. But even in dealing with such a general subject, with critically acclaimed actors, the political messages seemed to me to be more than obvious, in the following ways:

– The virus originated in China (one might say that even in the real world, China is the most likely place for such a virus to be born)

– America created the antivirus. Once again america saves the world (again it might be said that america is most likely to create the vaccine)

– The government is the one most dedicatedly and sincerely looking to find the antivirus, while people who are off the grid, like bloggers, are trying to exploit the credulity of people

– The chinese  government refuses to make any exceptions and fools the villagers who are desperately trying to get vaccines

– The american government makes exceptions on human grounds


4 Responses to ""

Said is probably right. And that holds true for movies made in every country, I think. For example, sample this exquisite gem of a movie called Aman in which Rajendra Kumar plays a scientist/doctor who not only reverses the ill-effects of radiation but single-handedly ‘defuses’ a nuclear bomb, thus, saving the world. He also meets a very doped-looking Bertrand Russell described here as a ‘mahapurush’ who looks like he thinks he’s in a documentary with a real doctor, or maybe that’s just becoz of being subjected to Rajendra Kumar’s English.

But then, Bollywood always does blatant propaganda rather well.

hah! this is funny. wonder how they talked bertrand russell into this.

i agree, every national cinema glorifies the nation. the bias in bollywood movies is so blatant, that it is infantile.

but i wonder, that in the US, masters of PR that they are, hollywood is a conscious, deliberate part of its propaganda machinery. it also deserves attention because of its near universal viewership, and the unique position of power of the US.

i think some institutions like Hollywood are under-served more from their own blithe and obstinate blindness to see beyond the cliches fed to them, and everyone, than by malignant propagandist intentions. They see themselves as mere entertainers, reflecting what their audience absorbs on its own, the same biases founded on fear and absurd patriotism.

Perhaps they are right. Perhaps, the fact that Hollywood is the numero uno eye to the world is more dangerous than the cliche of a ticking N-bomb in the heart of Manhattan. Like a village idiot, bully and tyrant to boot, the sole teacher to your child in a boarding school.

A movie that turns the assumptions we live with without noticing on its heads, that does not chase plot and closure, is bound to not even get released. purely on commercial grounds.

@Tangled: Where the hell did you land up with this gem?! If only he knew what an idiot he was speaking with.

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