Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Book, The Movie and the Brotherhood

I don't know what I hate more. The fact that the Indian Government is going around committing such gross violations of freedom of speech as banning the film version of the Da Vinci Code. Or the fact that they're doing that means I now have to defend - actually DEFEND - crap like the DVC.

Apparently the movie is now to be previewed by Christian groups, after which a decision on whether or not to ban it will be taken [1]. Can we take it that this is now official government policy? That you get to watch any film that might offend you and approve its release. Have I mentioned how much porn offends me?

Oh, and can we therefore assume that every other movie that's been released in recent times meets with the Church's complete approval? So for instance, Basic Instinct 2 is a completely unobjectionable film, brimming with morals and plain old-fashioned Christian virtue? Stabbing someone repeatedly with an ice-pick right after you've had sex with them is A-okay with the Church, just as long as we're all clear that our Lord the Saviour wasn't getting any.

And speaking of sex, isn't that another of those things that the Church disapproves of? Are we to assume, therefore, that the next time one plans to use a condom, one has first to call one's local church group and have them come by and watch to make sure they approve?

Oh, and what about Muslims (who are apparently supporting the ban, scenting, no doubt, the sweet possibility of precedent)? If you're offended by the idea that Christ and Magdalene might have been getting jiggy with it, then surely the fact of a whole other religion, especially one which discredits your prophet and usurps God for itself, should be even more horrifying. If we are going to go down the route of not offending anyone, surely the first step is to ban religion?

Okay, okay, so I'm ranting. I can't help it. The whole thing is just too ridiculous from beginning to end. It's ridiculous that anyone would take a work of pulp fiction this seriously, that a centuries old faith would even dignify this sort of idiocy with a response [2]. It's ridiculous that the leaders of one of the world's most powerful religions should be so insecure as to need every tiny detail of their belief system to be true [3]. It's ridiculous that these leaders think that the best way to suppress the message of the book / film is to initiate a huge public debate about it, thus ensuring that you no longer have to watch the film / read the book to find out what the offending argument is - you can just hear it on the news. It's ridiculous that the government of a supposedly secular state would give even a moment's consideration to the request for such a ban, let alone approve it.

It's not just the principle of the thing, or the fact that it goes against every ideal of democracy, freedom or multiculturalism. It's not just that it involves making the incredible leap of logic that says that a person who willingly goes to a cinema hall, buys a ticket and sits through a movie (presumably you have to watch the whole film before the plot twist becomes clear) is somehow being forced to witness a blasphemy and must therefore be protected [4]. It's also the sheer impracticality of it - do these people realise the precedent they're setting? Every religious fundamentalist in the country must be jumping with joy at this point. If the government does this for the DVC, how are they ever going to justify not doing this for every other crackpot little group that finds something offensive? We might as well stop all movie shows right now and force all cinema halls to play endless re-runs of Krishi Darshan.

Look, I'm pretty sure DVC will be a crap film. I'm sure it'll be one standard Hollywood blockbuster whose only merit will be the opportunity it offers to completely shut off your brain and be mindlessly entertained by it. I'm sure I'll either avoid it or go watch it and be pained by it and write scathing reviews making fun of it. But it's my right to be pained by any movie I choose to be pained by, and I'll be damned if I'll let the government take that right away from me.

[1] I'm not sure I see the point of this. I mean what are they expecting the Christian groups to say? "Oh, they were talking about THAT Christ and Magdalene pairing? That's okay then. We were afraid it might have been the other one. Go ahead and show the film. We're fine with it. Hell, we can be as open-minded as anyone else"

[2] Are there really people out there who believe everything they see in the movies? Life must be really tough for them. They're probably sitting cowering in their basements right now, wondering whether the martians will get them first, or the dinosaurs, or Global Warming (I'd bet on Global Warming, btw). Or maybe they're hoping Spiderman will save them.

[3] Will someone please explain to me what the big deal about this secret descendants of Christ thing is anyway? I mean it's not like we're saying all the other good stuff the man did, all the dying on the Cross to redeem humanity stuff, is not true. So he had a little fun before he did all that. Why the desperate need to believe in his virginity? Except, of course, that it makes all these priests who've been going around being all celibate look pretty darn silly.

[4] I mean, look, we don't even ban cigarettes, dammit, and those things are actually BAD for you. If you're really concerned about the offensive nature of the film, just put up a statutory warning saying that the film may be offensive to certain religious sensibilities, why don't you?

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MockTurtle said...

"It's ridiculous that anyone would take a work of pulp fiction this seriously"

Hey, this is the same bunch that takes the Bible seriously. Why wouldn't they do the same for any other work of pulp fiction?

Ashish Gupta said...

when you put footnote, it is good idea to put link back to place of footnote, or else flow of reading gets disrupted.

km said...

Or the fact....I now have to defend - actually DEFEND - crap like the DVC.

Feel the pain, brother, I can feel your pain.

But there's one pain that you have not mentioned: that of listening to idiots (who also happen to be friends and colleagues) rave enthusiastically about the film next Monday. I am shivering in fear. (If my friends are reading this: I don't mean YOU.)

It's a good thing "Life of Brian" and "Holy Grail" were small, indie films and got released before earthlings lost even the semblance of sanity.

rambler said...

c'mon, did we forget the danish cartoons? and the innocent lives lost over those harmless innuendoes..

my point is - why should we do something which hurts someone's sentiments even if thats "legally" correct to do?

and from a practical perspective the last thing we want in a diverse country like india, which has just started growing economically, is a religious unrest..

btw, your "about me" seems to be a secret code.. what is it?

Arnold said...

haha! hilarious post! especially the footnotes...

Anonymous said...

that the government of a supposedly secular state would give even a moment's consideration to the request for such a ban

Please come outta your ass hole, you hedgehog.

pointblank said...

Brilliant! I was thinking of writing about it myself. But you said it better than I ever can. :) It's a good follow up to the "If he were a carpenter" post.

"Can we take it that this is now official government policy? That you get to watch any film that might offend you and approve its release" It is actually becoming a trend now. Rang de Basanti had to be screened for the government and the IAF and had to be approved by them before it could be officially released. Never ceases to amaze, this government of ours.

Cheshire Cat said...

This hasn't so much to do with religion as with the opportunism of Indian polticians and the lily-liveredness of the Indian government. All this pandering to sentiment. Majority sentiment, minority sentiment, it doesn't matter... From the fuss about the uniform civil code to the uproar over "Fire" and "Water" (and I won't even mention the Sourav Ganguly affair:)

Bhaarat said...

I think there is an ardent need to make "OPEN YOUR MIND" and "ITS ALL IN YOUR MIND" courses to be taught compulsorily for each and every fanatic in the world.

I feel the bigger pain of "Now I have to defend" such a silly inconsequential non-issue going to eat into my resource and time. I have all the sympathies for your pains.

Aishwarya said...

Have I mentioned how much porn offends me?

Have you? If not, may I request a post on this?:)

As for the rest, I feel your pain.

The Man Who Wasnt There said...

But what indeed is the brouhaha all about? I mean the book wasnt exactly 'banned' was it? ( Though that would have been a good riddance...and we would have to hear less of 'Dan brown rocks!!' )
If the 'book' part is not blasphemous and is 'ok' what is the big deal about the movie??? If they are thinking people basically odnt 'read' then on that logic shouldnt there be a 'movie' version of bible? (which once again would put a bollywood movie to shame with it's plot..)

There are double standards everywhere and lets face majority of people are darn silly. But then other than rant wonder what else can one do about it? :|

Anonymous said...

hehehe, your simplistic arguments are a joke. yours and that mockturtle dimwit's :) hehehehe. like children :) dumb children. maybe the two of you haven't been gettin' any lately? can't blame the ladies. you really are ugly men, y'know?

pointblank said...

An update - the film isn't banned. As you pointed out in the comments, it's being given an 'A' certificate. How they manage to make a big deal out of everything..

Falstaff said...

MT: Yes, but remember they don't think it's fiction. That's the whole point.

Besides, let's be fair - the Bible is not Pulp Fiction; it's fiction, but much of it is beautifully written.

ashishg: errrr...thanks for the feedback, but the easiest way to get back to the right place in the main text is to hit 'Back' on your browser.

km: True, but on the other hand, it's such a great opportunity to put the idiots down. I plan to spend the weekend practising saying "No! Why would I want to watch THAT?" with as much scorn as I can muster

rambler: Yes, that's exactly why we shouldn't be encouraging fundamentalists. If you start banning things on such flimsy grounds then it's hard to imagine any work of art / journalism or any lifestyle choice that wouldn't offend some crackpot's religious sentiments. Should be ban all of them? If you start placating these people, where do you stop?

Nobody's doing things to offend other people here. The point is that we should be able to do or say what we choose without having to worry that someone else might find it offensive. that's the only way society can progress.

arnold: thanks.

pointblank: Thanks.

Cat: True. But I can't help wondering how small the minority that would actually appreciate a ban on the DVC is. I find it hard to believe that people will actually vote for a government because it banned some movie that they would probably never have gone to see anyway. Being spineless and populist is bad enough, but being spineless and populist and not even getting the votes to show for it is surely worse.

bhaarat: thanks

aishwarya: Ya well, to be honest I only realised how much porn offends me when I realised this meant I might get to screen every new porn film released in India. For free.

Still, now that I think about it, porn is offensive. Take lesbian threesomes. All those women wasting themselves on other women when I'm still available. There ought to be a law.

girish: yes, but ranting is fun, isn't it?

pointblank: good, good. Does this mean we're now officially saying ultra-devout Catholics are not Adults?

Prakriti said...

you are way too good at ranting Falstaff..
Sometimes I think they have a point but I am more comfortable with the idea of opposing conservative views.Frankly I do care for this flick coz it might gimmi a peak at some of leonardo's works..

confused said...

The wonderful things are-

a) Vatican has not banned this movie.

B) Muslims have joined the Christians and are claiming Christ as a Prohpet-does that point towards how we could actually reduce Muslim-christian tensions? heh!

btw, I wonder, why did not Shiv Sena join the fun.

That would have been perfect. Unity of bigots.

Me said...

well, everyone protests bout most movies...

the hindus protested bout fire and water

the muslims protest bout cartoons and almost everything they find offensive

the church hasn't asked for a ban of the movie, just a disclaimer that its a work of fiction.

you haven't really read more than the headlines on newspapers, if you think the church wants a ban. newspaper headlines and channels like times now hype up the whole thing, so unless you bother to actually verify the facts, i dont think you can launch a rather juvenile tirade against the whole thing.

also, it's only the i&b ministry who brought up the whole question of a ban.


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