In the past – and much to our collective irritation – the only Indian cinema that earned any respect in the US was of the serious kind. Movie critics would swoon over the likes of Satyajit Ray, while disdaining our mainstream movies as over-the-top escapist trash. Finally, commercial Hindi movies are getting the respect they deserve…
Well, “respect” may be the wrong word. Bollywood is now the official bimbo of the international film scene. No one cares what our movies say as long as they look good and offer mindless fun. In fact, that’s our designated job according the kitsch-is-cool pose adopted by American critics. Cartoonish characters, absurd plotlines and bad dialogue? Thank you, that’s exactly what we ordered, with a giant serving of exotic locales, dance numbers, and costumes, please!
In American eyes, Bollywood becomes the cinematic equivalent of going to the circus. Bring on the clowns, the jugglers, the crazy acrobatics—and you get a pass on the stuff that real movies are judged on. And so it is that Ra.One which is almost universally panned by Indian critics for its clunky acting and weak plot gets rave reviews in the United States.
The underlying message is that “serious” cinema is best left to those who know how—in Hollywood, France, even Iran. Our job on the international cinema stage is simple: look pretty and play dumb.
Geoffrey K. Pullum, who apparently thinks that imperialism, colonialism and deliberate linguicide are “accidents” (via darnhomosexuals)
I have to say I don’t read it quite like that. Imperialism, colonialism, and linguicide were deliberate British and European choices (see Macaulayism), but as processes, they were enabled by certain things about British and European society that were brought about by accident. For example, why in the 18th century should England have been the world’s technological leader as opposed to anyone else? Part of it was just geographical accident. As an island nation, development of maritime technology became paramount to the English, giving them a leg up in the naval arms race that kicked off during the age of European expansion. Hell, if the Spanish armada had attacked the English navy at Plymouth or if it hadn’t been stormy in Scotland in September 1588, we might we saying these same things about Spanish right now.
Going even further back, one could argue that the European Renaissance and subsequent expansion was kick-started by a bunch of gold that Mansa Musa spent with Italian merchants in Cairo, or that the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople closed off the Black Sea, pushing European expansion into the Atlantic, or that the wide east-west spread of the Eurasian landmass allowed plant and animal species to disperse longitudinally, facilitating the exchange of early agricultural technology. So yes, British policy during the colonial period spread the English language around the world at the expense of indigenous tongues, but many of the things that put the British in a position to do that were “accidents,” and not due to the inherent superiority of the people or their language.
I think in his original article, Pullum phrased it inartfully, making it sound like English just happened to be the language of the British Empire and Hollywood without exploring how it got there, and there’s a bit of utilitarian snobbery in the last few paragraphs (no, not everyone should learn a language just because it’s “useful”), but I also don’t read a deliberate attempt to erase a history of colonialism (especially with the map of the British Empire right there at the top of the article).
"Caca" (as in poop) is one of the oldest words in the English language. In fact, it’s way, way older than the language itself, coming via various borrowings but going all the way back to Proto-Indo-European *kakka-, meaning, you guessed it, poop.
This article talks about how advisors can help a grad student who’s become stuck/stymied in the writing process. I found it useful from a student standpoint as well. I would also recommend reading the comments at the bottom; there’s some good stuff there.