Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Whose world is it anyway?

I have a theory of sorts, which basically states that the world we live in is at a point of no return. We humans have messed up the earth incredibly badly, and as a race that is supremely selfish, greedy, corrupt and power-hungry, all we care about is making our own lives as comfortable as possible, no matter what the cost. Oh of course there are the good ones - the people fighting for justice, non-discrimination, an end to poverty, peace - but there are way too few of those. The few good things these people have managed to achieve over the decades are being undermined by the majority. Take feminism, for example. Everything that we take for granted have come as a result of bitter struggle, fought by our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers even. Who would not have thought that by now, the 21st century, women would be treated with a little bit of the respect any living, breathing, thinking, feeling human being deserves? Except - not really. And nowhere is this more apparent than the completely obnoxious and appalling show currently being aired on AXN called The Man's World Show.

I'd seen the trailers, of course - of these two moronic men who go by the names of Ash and ... something, I forget what, stating with complete conviction that they had all the answers to every possible question any man may at some point have had regarding women, while a leggy woman wearing next to nothing preened and pouted in the foreground. And then there was the very bosomy Tanisha of Neal 'n' Nikki fame telling people to go watch the show (this, at least, should have warned me - but in my defence, I wasn't really paying that much attention). Last week, for want of something better to do, I decided to catch a bit of the show. I'm still in a state of shock.

If there's anyone who wants to know exactly what the phrase 'commodification/objectification of women' means, go watch this piece of crap. This show has every possible offensive stereotype that has ever surrounded women - from the brain-dead all legs and boobs model who's dying for some attention from these guys, attention that might just catapult her into a film role, to the belief that it's only the sight of almost-nude women that keeps the attention of a man (so, cut to shots of the Kingfisher swimsuit calendar - Vijay Mallya's pathetic attempt at replicating the Pirelli), to the 'advice' these guys give every English-speaking Indian man watching the show (and I bet there are plenty) - 'guys, don't tie yourself to just one woman. Go date lots of them - but remember, keep it to one woman at a time (very important, that). And when you're with a woman, focus your attention on her - women like to feel they're special. So remember her name, her friends' names, what she likes ... and if nothing's happening for you, just move on to the next one'. Ash actually had the audacity to compare a woman with a car.

Then, of course, there's this (again) stereotypically ugly man called Benny (oily hair, nondescript clothes, heavy Indian accent to his English - as opposed to dear Ash's faux American one, which is oh-so-cool-n-sexy - lumbering gait) who can never get a woman to even look at him once. Except he does, not one, but two women, in an elevator. By the stroke of the most wonderful piece of luck, both these nubile nymphs are wearing extremely tight jeans and T-shirts, the kind that gives you ample glimpses of cleavage - and, of course, they don't mind what Benny looks like, after all, he's on TV! That's all a woman would care about - what a man has, never mind what he is or looks like. One of them wants Benny to sign her T-shirt just where it stretches across her breasts - so camera obligingly zooms in on her cleavage.

That's where I lost it and switched off the TV. I wanted to watch more, just to see how far they'd go - but I couldn't. And anyway, I think I have a pretty good idea.

What have we been fighting for? Equality, a better world where men respect us, think of us as human and give us our space - none of it matters, does it? Because clearly, it's been lost on not just men, but women too - the ones who agreed to be on the show, and the ones who watch it (and again, I'm sure there are some who've watched it and are not as apoplectic as I am). Are we progressing, or regressing? How can we call ourselves civilised, developing, progressive, if this is what we endorse?

And where are the protests? Where are the women's groups? Where is the censor board, which otherwise considers a simple kiss an act tantamount to terrorism (the Indian culture does not permit this, blah, blah)? Where are the self-proclaimed guardians of morality who will not even let the words 'pre-marital sex' be breathed on Indian soil? Where are all the people who hail women as goddesses, as mothers? Where is Sushma Swaraj? How does a prime television channel air such offensive, damaging content and get advertisers for it? And don't worry - I might sound naive, but I'm not - I know exactly what the answers to most of these questions are.

But in one fell swoop a lot of the battles feminists and humanists won over the decades was undone. And, as has become the norm these days, everyone just stood (or sat) by and watched.

And for those who might just want to see for themselves exactly why I'm seething, it's on AXN, Wednesdays at 10.30 pm.