I suck at consistency, obviously

Here is most rant-filled, grammatically cataclysmic post thus far to make up for my three days absence. 

The past couple days have been a roller coaster — a phrase which I can now confidently say is not one word and not hyphenated in AP Style, because of a timed writing I had to do yesterday for my multimedia lab. It was used in a quote by a woman to describe a week during which her first grandson was born, and her husband shot himself with a nail gun (don’t worry, he survived). My week wasn’t quite as macabre, but for some reason, weirdly emotional and sleepless and stressful and just ugh I want to go home. In no particular order, the events of this week that have built up and torn down my faith in humanity.

The lack of indictment in the Eric Garner case. Like actually wtf. I was upset about the way the Michael Brown case turned out and could understand the frustration but could also acknowledge the ambiguity of the witness testimonies. With Eric Garner, I watched the horrendous video (that for some reason news channels have taken the ridiculous liberty of playing non-stop without giving thought to the fact that we are literally seeing a man die over and over again  on television) and broke down crying at work because it was such a moment of helplessness and frustration. I couldn’t deal. I still can’t deal. I’ve never felt so helpless in something I care so much about and that’s such a scary feeling.

Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and Other Concerns. I read this book despite the fact that a) I promised myself that I wouldn’t pick up another book until I finished Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone which I have been trying to get through since summer and b) it’s currently finals week so I really shouldn’t be reading for pleasure anyways. That being said, it was great. It reminded me how much work and failure and rejection it takes to get anywhere in life. It made me laugh when I was pissed off at everything. Which, in turn, reminded me how essential entertainers and commentators and comedy are to society. When I was younger, I don’t think I had every very many opportunities to read/experience any form of entertainment media in the U.S. by South Asian Americans. But recently, I don’t know if I’ve become more aware, or if there are actually more by number, I’ve found so many great writers. Atul Gawande, Mindy Kaling, Aasif Mandvi, Abraham Verghese — even seeing that new kid Hassan Minhaj on the Daily Show makes me so happy. It’s so validating to see snippets of your own experience, and acknowledgement of your frustrations, told in the stories of others.

The stupid shooting threat at my school. I can’t stand people who go out of their way to make people feel unsafe. I don’t understand what is accomplished by that and it just makes me mad. So when I got an alert by my school about a Twitter shooting threat, my internal monologue was 1.) “aw hell no” followed by 2.) little bit of fear followed by 3.) John Oliver saying “There have always been motherf***ers, there will always be motherf***ers, but what we can’t do is let them control our motherf***ing lives.” And then I wrote up a story about the threat for USA Today College that got edited and published with a bunch of grammatical errors and typos but got 1.2k shares so I guess it’s ok in the end.

The ridiculous Rolling Stone / UVA rape case drama that’s going down. It’s so frustrating that such basic journalistic standards of ethics were completely ignored, which will, in the long run, harm the already marginalized and stigmatized voices of rape victims. While Rolling Stone may be able to save face with great PR (and they’ve already released statements covering their backs) this endangers so many victims and their willingness to come forward with their stories. Beyond annoyed, beyond frustrated.

My last day of lecture and lab in my favorite class of the semester: Multimedia Writing. I loved this class so much. I could go on for a while about all of the things that were amazing about it. And it’s my blog, so I’ll go ahead and do that. I learned a lot. The construction of the class was ingenious in the way that at the beginning of the semester, we were given a fact sheet and pretty much told how to construct ledes, nut grafs, and all of the the components of a news story — something that most of us were completely unfamiliar and uncomfortable with. But, each week, they would slowly take away some of the help, to the point that now, at the end of the semester, we can confidently interview, write, and get published a story without a rubric, in a style of writing that we literally had no idea how to work with just 14 weeks prior. It makes me love writing so much more, I feel so much more confident, and I’m so much more excited about my future journalism classes. The same cannot be said about orgo chem because jeez that class has just been one massive train wreck from start to end.

The last day of lecture in multimedia, our amazing professor read us a speech someone gave at a 50-year college reunion or something that pretty much listed all of the technological innovations and advancements and events and changes that had happened between college graduation and where they were now. And at first, it was inspiring because you realize how far we have come — in terms of media, communications and technology — in such a short amount of time. But, the more I think about it, the scarier it is. Everything I’m learning about now, everything I care about now, has the potential to become completely and utterly obsolete in just my lifetime. And as inevitable and obvious as that statement is, it’s really disheartening and makes me have all kinds of existential feels that I don’t know how to cope with because I am young and inexperienced and jacked up on caffeine and frightened by the concept of finiteness. Peace out.

Why I take issue with most Indian Soap Operas’ treatment of women

My home has a lot of Hindi TV playing, and through the many hours and seasons, I’ve noticed (and have becomes especially frustrated) with certain disturbing trends in the majority of the television shows that are so widely viewed and loved by its audience.

Indian serials perpetuate a Madonna-Whore complex. In brief, the Madonna-Whore complex is this notion that women exist only on two opposite poles: one is the celebrated “Madonna,” the symbol of all that is pure, chaste, virtuous, soft-spoken, meek, etc. while the other is the scorned “Whore,” embodying the opposite. In most Indian soap operas, the main female protagonist is loved and admired because of a few choice characteristics: modesty, humility, loyalty, unquestioning subservience to the elders of her home, and the ability to quietly tolerate any and all hardship without protest; in short, is the archetypical Madonna. The female antagonist, on the other hand, is written to be loathed for her ambition, outspokenness, and/or desire to challenge the traditional hierarchical family structure. She almost always dresses in a less demure way than the female lead, and has more jarring makeup. She may have had a *gasp* divorce, is married a second time, or is a young woman who plans on snatching away the female lead’s man.

This dichotomy is so infuriating, because it’s perpetuated in show after show, episode after episode, as the antagonist female’s independence, self-reliance, and outspokenness is demonized in the face of the protagonist’s subservient/maternal/tolerating nature. The few times a female lead begins to take a more proactive, non-passive role is when her family’s honor is at stake– which is very noble and honorable I guess, but we never see her do the same for herself. Indian serials need to stop glorifying this over the top, self-sacrificing nature that reinforces the idea that a woman’s only role is to serve others around her. We need more female protagonist characters that seek out success for themselves. 

Indian serials’ female characters’ entire lives revolve solely around acquiring/serving the significant male figure in their life. Indian culture is obsessed with marriage. The central theme of the majority of the Hindi serials on air right now is either the struggle to get married, or the struggle to maintain a marriage. And we get it. Yes, marriage is a milestone in life–but it’s not the sole reason for existence.

In a similar strain to my previous point, women in Hindi T.V. serials need to be more independent– not just from a character’s standpoint of being financial and emotional independence, but from the writer’s point as well. A sort of litmus test: Her character should be complex and developed enough that if you take out the significant male characters from her life, she can still stand as a believable character and  complete human being, instead of an empty shell of dependent emotions and responses to the actions of those around her. If she can’t, then the character is too weak to even put into the story. Give her as complex of a backstory as the male lead. Write her a history, a reputation, that doesn’t solely revolve around her past romantic interests.

Hindi television’s main problem is that it lacks not only protagonist strong women to begin with, but is completely devoid of complex women. This quote has been making rounds on Tumblr, and I feel it perfectly encapsulates the crux of my argument.

“Screw writing “strong” women. Write interesting women. Write well-rounded women. Write complicated women. Write a woman who kicks ass, write a woman who cowers in a corner. Write a woman who’s desperate for a husband. Write a woman who doesn’t need a man. Write women who cry, women who rant, women who are shy, women who don’t take no shit, women who need validation and women who don’t care what anybody thinks. They are all ok, and all those things could exist in the same woman. ” –Lori

More excellent commentary on the role of females in media (not just in Indian media, but in general) can also be found here and here