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Moral Policing : When Vulgar Minds Define Indian Culture

Posted: October 1, 2014

Moral policing has become increasingly common in India. Are we curbing individual rights in the name of Indian Culture? Why must we allow vulgar minds to define Indian culture, asks this post.

A recent movie poster stirred sizeable havoc in the media when people objected that the actor in question was spreading vulgarity, has indulged in a shameful act, and most importantly, tried to malign the purity of Indian culture. All this uproar in the media has in turn made people curious, and a lot of inquisitive minds are Googling the poster.

The so-called “moral police” have unwittingly done more good than harm by publicizing the movie, here. And frankly, even if no further publicity is done by the movie team, they would be good to go because it’s not often that a semi-nude movie poster makes it to the headlines. It has definitely caught everyone’s attention.

Coming to the much talked about poster, the actor in the poster is standing with only a transistor modestly but effectively covering his private parts. By private parts, it is understood that the area referred to is between his legs – since surprisingly, showing a man’s bare chest is not shameful or distasteful, gives no wrong impression to the young minds (as if young minds need a cue to make their fantasies run crazy) and is completely in harmony with Indian culture.

Then and now

Now is the time for a little flash back. The 80’s saw a famous ad campaign by a leading underwear brand. The ad shows a woman being harassed and a man coming to her rescue (predictably). What is not predictable is that the man -who is dressed only in a bathrobe and underwear- jumps from a balcony to save the damsel in distress. What makes eye balls pop out is the camera, placed at a strategic angle, making sure that the entire jump is captured in full glory leaving very little to imagination. Needless to say, it is shown in slow motion to add to the dramatics of the heroic jump.

This was in the 80’s. It’s 2014 today. There has been a decent amount of “progress” in every field. There are numerous examples of men dressed in their underwear, rather dressed only in their underwear in movies, advertisements, music albums etc. and it has become a regular affair. Not many eyebrows are raised while coming across such a scene or a still.

Back to the movie poster, the only thing that is disturbing about it is the mentality of the people looking at it and calling it ‘vulgar’, because in literal terms and meaning, the poster shows nothing. So, people who see vulgarity are actually viewing it with their mind’s eye (talk about “the paradox of reality is that no image is as compelling as the one which exists in the mind’s eye”) and have an imagination running astray.

So, slapping a civil rights suit on the movie and terming it as shameful, and a minister publicly dressing up the poster to show the true essence of Indian culture, and protecting the actor’s image because he hosts a noble and socially beneficial talk show is an unintelligent act. In fact, the movie makers should in turn slap a case on the people calling the poster vulgar stating they have a vulgar mind and need to get the wild horses of their imagination under control, as well as for maligning the actor and the movie.

The objections that the moral police voice nowadays tilt more towards curbing an individual’s choice and freedom…

‘Moral policing’ is a phrase used and misused often in our society. Spreading morality is something that can be understood, and is a welcome idea at any point in time. But, the question arises, what is the standard of morality of the so-called moral policing imposed by some people? The objections that they voice nowadays tilt more towards curbing an individual’s choice and freedom and slapping the codes and the norms of the “Indian culture” highly misunderstood by these goons, rather than trying to spread morality.

Who defines morality?

A female politician faced the brunt of the moral police when she advised people to think more about safe sex. They promptly dived in, blaming and accusing her of encouraging people to get physical outside of wedlock rather than thanking her for trying to spread awareness about safe sex.

It is not moral to paint black the face of a girl and a boy sitting in a park, or to punish and humiliate the young couples trying to go on a date and it is definitely not moral to stop a girl and a boy from meeting. It is not an offence to meet the opposite sex, not an offence to go on a date, not an offence (above a certain age) to get physical with someone, not an offence to be a transgender, not an offence to be gay. So, while talking about morality, one might ask, what happened to the simple concept of being a good human being?

Indian culture has almost become like a commodity; picked up by whoever wishes to use it for their own benefit, trying to define it with their own standards of morality, adding aspects to it, tearing away what might not align with their school of thought, and shoving it in everyone’s face and creating unpleasantness, (forgetting that it is the same culture which produced Khajurao and the sun temple of Puri, which have a number of statues explicitly explaining and showing in detail what the moral police call immoral these days). Are the moral police now planning to clothe the men and women immortalized in stone?

Pic credit: Archer10 (Used under a CC license)

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