Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Name of The Guru

IMDB news reports that Mike Myers' recent film The Love Guru is offending a Hindu leader:

Myers Upsets Hindu Community
Actor Mike Myers has sparked controversy in Hindu communities for "lampooning" the religion in his new movie The Love Guru. The 44-year-old plays Guru Pitka in the upcoming film and repeats the mantra of Mariska Hargitay - inspired by the American actress - as his calming technique. But Hindu leader Rajan Zed has accused Myers of stereotyping the culture, adding the movie "appears to be lampooning Hinduism and Hindus." Studio Paramount Pictures has agreed to a preview of the movie for Hindu leaders prior to its release. A spokesman says, "Love Guru, which is not yet complete, is a satire created in the same spirit as Austin Powers. It is our full intention to screen the film for Rajan Zed and other Hindu leaders once it is ready." Link.

If the definition of "lampooning" means to "publicly criticize by using ridicule, irony or sarcasm", I would think that the Hindu leader is sensitive to any non-Hindu making fun of Hindus. The closest thing Myers is doing—I should say probably since I've yet to see the movie—is an absurd misrepresentation (mockery), or a comically exaggerated representation (caricature). Why would Myers have any intention of publicly criticizing Hindus? It smacks of racism.

Take Lost in Translation—while it certainly poked fun of the much Japanese buffoonery, it was certainly not disrespectful or critical of the Japanese. In fact, had that same film had been made by a Japanese person, it would have been called hilarious. So to call that film racist is, ironically, racist.

That's the problem with humor, though. Being mocked by close friends, those who are unquestionably loving, is a qualitatively different experience than being mocked by those whose loyalties are in doubt. It's hard to take a joke when you're unclear if it's suppressed criticism merely veiled in laughter.

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