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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

Hindu backlash against ‘The Love Guru’ turns hilarious

I’ve been bombarded with emails lately from a Hindu group upset over the upcoming Mike Myers movie The Love Guru, which opens on Friday (and I’m not the only one). I’ve mostly been ignoring them, because they seemed silly — the protesters are upset because they believe the movie mocks Hinduism, and perhaps it does (they haven’t seen the film yet, and neither have I), but so what? No one is immune from mocking, and why get so upset about what has every indication of being a terrible movie anyway? Of course everyone has the right to complain about whatever they want, too, which is why I didn’t see much point in even mentioning the anti-Love Guru campaign at all.

But one of the emails I received over the weekend crossed a line into a realm that deserves ridicule. An excerpt:

Hindus want “NC-17” rating for “The Love Guru” movie

Hindus have appealed to Classification and Rating Administration (CARA) of USA for assigning upcoming Hollywood movie “The Love Guru” “NC-17” rating instead of currently held “PG-13”…

Advancing the movement launched by acclaimed Hindu leader Rajan Zed; Bhavna Shinde, representing Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, in communiqués to MPAA and NATO, said, “Paramount Pictures, presenter of ‘The Love Guru’ movie, has not pre-screened it for Hindu leaders, despite various requests by Hindu leaders so that they have more information. So, from the information available about the movie, it appears to be mocking and ridiculing Hinduism, Hindu philosophy, ashram life, Hindu concepts and terminology, Gurus, etc. Cinema is a powerful medium and it can create stereotypes in the minds of some audiences, especially in the minds of younger audiences, who are passing through an impressionable phase. We do not want our next generation to be growing up with a distorted view of Hinduism and Hindus.”…

Shinde further said in the communiqué, “We appeal to you to reconsider your earlier rating decision this season and assign ‘The Love Guru’ movie the ‘NC-17’ rating (instead of the ‘PG-13’ rating previously assigned by you.) If the filmmaker wants a lower rating, they should pre-screen it for Rajan Zed, us and other Hindu leaders, edit the material objectionable (if any) to this group and re-submit the movie to you.”

NC-17? The request alone is likely to be much more entertaining than the movie itself. If I thought there was any chance at all that Paramount would even entertain the idea of withdrawing this film from release days before it opens, screening it for third parties, and then recutting the movie to please them, I’d go into a rant about freedom of expression, which even idiotic comedies are entitled to. But that’s not going to happen.

Almost as funny is another email I received from the group over the weekend, which begins:

Hindus ask MPAA to suspend Paramount for “unethical practices”

Hindus have urged Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to immediately suspend Paramount Pictures, presenters of “The Love Guru” movie, from its membership for “unethical and unprofessional business practices, which have resulted in the one-billion-strong Hindu community worldwide feeling hurt”.

Since when are hurt feelings tantamount to “unethical practices”?

Wait, it gets better:

Rajan Zed suggests that in order retain its leadership in the filmed entertainment industry and to regain trust and confidence of its world constituency, Paramount needs to retrain its staff, specially senior executives, in cultural awareness, public relations, opening closed minds, creating partnerships, basic business etiquette, etc., in this fast changing world business environment; and adds that maybe its parent Viacom should step in to re-energize Paramount. We are even willing to help in this skill improvement if they approach us, Zed points out.

See? All Paramount has to do it totally refocus all of its business enterprises, and everything will be fine.

The release goes on to note that

Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with a rich philosophical thought, and it should not be taken lightly, Zed stresses.

One might think such an ancient and venerable tradition would be in no danger of toppling at the hands of Mike Myers.

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