Movies, Pop Culture

I live in India and love Hollywood. But why is it so hard for Americans to stop using awful Indian stereotypes?

Because all Indians have cows in their backyard, right?

I’ve grown up with a love for Hollywood films and American television shows. What I don’t love though is the widely inaccurate and lack o representation when it comes to Indians and India itself. 

Honestly, where are we and why are we perceived in such an incorrect way?

The only shows I can think of that accurately represent the Indian community are The Mindy Project and Master of None – all thanks to the greatness behind the screen.

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Without their help, we can’t rely on Hollywood movies and television to get it right. In their world, Indian representation is meager at best. When we do find ourselves represented – it’s so highly inaccurate and grossly stereotypical that it saddens and frustrates me at the same time.

[bctt tweet=”Indian representation is meager at best.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Take, for example, Raj in The Big Bang Theory or the way India’s poverty was displayed in Slumdog Millionaire.

Don’t misunderstand me here, I don’t have a problem with showing the reality of India, but it seems like Hollywood only sees this poverty-ridden part of my country and can’t seem to snap out of it.

India is so much more than cows on the roads, noisy markets, and Holi. 

We don’t play Holi 24/7, all 365 days of the year, y’all.  It’s a festival that comes once a year and it means a lot to us, but it’s not all that there is to us.

Reducing India to such a narrow image is disappointing.

When it comes to characters specifically – we’re either highly qualified doctors, teachers, engineers or we’re taxi drivers. That’s it. There’s absolutely no way an Indian living abroad could fall into a middle category, right?

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This is appalling, considering the fact that we have a population of 1.3 billion, with 29 states, 22 languages, and 9 recognized religions. 

We should surely get at least decent amount of representation in an industry as big as Hollywood, right?

Diversity has always been poor in Hollywood and continues to be so, despite so many talented Indian (and PoC) actors and producers trying to change that.

[bctt tweet=” Reducing India to such a narrow image is disappointing.” username=”wearethetempest”]

It’s worth mentioning that Priyanka Chopra’s foray into the industry has been refreshing after watching her dominate Bollywood for years. 

When I see her onscreen, repping India at such an international level – it makes my heart warm.

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As cheesy as it may sound, 12-year-old me struggled to find a character or actor in Hollywood that she could relate to. But 21-year-old me finds that solace through Mindy Kaling and Priyanka Chopra.

Hollywood filmmakers shrink India into this minuscule image of what is perceived and it doesn’t do justice to what we actually are.

Our accent is stereotyped – so incorrectly. 

Not every Indian sounds like Appu from The Simpsons, FYI. And we definitely don’t dance the way Major Lazer and his pals did in the “Lean On” music video.

[bctt tweet=” It’s sad to see our culture being reduced to practically nothing but stereotypes on screen.” username=”wearethetempest”]

The modern Indian is anything but what Hollywood presumes them to be. They pursue unorthodox artistic careers, they’re not all socially awkward, and they’re definitely not reeking of curry.

On one end, our culture and our people get stereotyped and misrepresented to no end in movies and television.

On the other end, they ignore or appropriate our culture to no end.

There was an episode of the Netflix series Fuller House where get this:  Not a single Indian character on the show, but they threw an Indian-themed party for one of the characters and there was a cow in the backyard. 

Because all Indians have cows in their backyard, right?

This narrative is so ignorant and blatantly offensive. India boasts of multiple metropolitan cities that coexist alongside villages. My country is a dichotomy and is beautiful as well. 

So don’t reduce it to what it’s not and don’t try to tell me what I look like.

We are all so beautifully unique and diverse in our own ways, with our own cultures.

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We’re more than just your stereotypes.