Nowadays, everything you see in the media is deemed to be true, and a lot of TV shows and movies have started relaying information that holds true value (to an extent).
Everyone, and I mean everyone, learns a lot about the world based on what they see in the media. This is why it’s so important to realize and correct all the unjust information being displayed.
Every time you watch a movie that shows parts of a third world country, you see all the slums, homeless population, and a lot of dirt. You won’t ever see how beautiful Kenya really is because you’re so used to seeing all the wild animals running in the desert with kids.
It doesn’t occur to you that an African country would have skyscrapers and or any type of civilization.
Similarly, every time India is shown in a movie, you see a village with kids running after goats and cows – you don’t see the liveliness that Mumbai has, the lighting in Delhi, or the beauty in Punjab.
Instead, you see a particularly narrow perspective of India.
Obviously, the information is true to an extent – but the media seems to only focus on the worst, which isn’t a great perspective.
This misuse of information is then further affirmed by celebrities, who use these stereotypical notions about their country as a part of their comedy shtick. Comedians, Russell Peters, in particular, are famous for making fun of India and many other third world countries.
A lot of Peters’ jokes circulate around the fact that Indians are cheap, they own or work at convenience stores/call centers, they only eat spicy food, and that they only dress and smell a certain way. These jokes can be hilarious, but by encouraging this humor, we add to the fire.
We incorporate these jokes in our everyday lives until they’re used against us.
Ever since I moved to the West, I’ve been a target of such humor.
People have asked if I’m married already, if I know how to make curry, if I save every penny like I’m supposed to, or if I’ve come from a village.
It’s extremely demeaning.
When I was younger and didn’t know any better, I used to laugh along with everyone and mimic the “Indian” accent. Then I realized that this encouraged the same people to make fun of my people, my family.
I began to get offended when people tried to correct the way my dad spoke English, but then I realized that I must’ve started this joke by correcting him myself.
I was a part of this vicious cycle, and then one day, I decided to end the cycle, once and for all.
I stopped laughing when people made racial jokes about Indians, I refused to mimic the Indian accent, I stopped making fun of other Indians.
And I stopped people from making fun of the man who brought me to this land with a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears.
Indians have traveled the moon and back, yet from TV shows, you might think Indians still work at convenience stores. India produces the highest number of engineers in the world.
With over a billion Indians, we’ve conquered a lot of milestones, yet media chooses to paint us all with the same brush.
We need better examples in the media, like Mindy Kaling: a lead who is an amazing doctor with a great sense of humor. Another great example would be Priyanka Chopra: a lead in the popular show Quantico, that’s all about breaking barriers.
You don’t see how the Indians have conquered the world, you don’t see how an Indian company Tata has taken over to being the world’s largest growing businesses. You don’t see how the CEO of Google is an Indian man. You don’t see how far and wide Indians have gone because we’re still stuck on TV as being the cheap, snake-charming, convenience store owners.
We need more of roles that break these stereotypes, more roles that show exactly how strong and diverse we are as a group.
More of these inspirations.