27 April 2007

"Traditional Hindus" think kiss on the cheek is bad, but symbolic murder is OK

Richard Gere is in trouble.

What did he do? He kissed Indian actress Shilpa Shetty on the cheek while playing to the crowd at an AIDS awareness press conference.

Now several right-wing Hindu groups are up in arms about the breach of this conservative taboo. Several are burning effigies and there is now an arrest warrant out for Gere. I've even heard of some calling for Gere's death, but I haven't seen any reputable sources for that yet.
Let's put this in perspective: In the west, only the absolute craziest of people are offended by a public kiss on the cheek. Hell, most people think it's cute when children kiss each other on the cheek. But to a fundy religious type, such a thing requires at least a symbolic execution via burning effigies.

Sound reasonable? Let's compare:

Kiss on cheek?


Kiss on cheek?


See where I'm going with this? Holy flying hell is a mentally-balanced perspective required here. Hint: mentally-balanced is not found with the demented fuckwits of any religion.

This just goes to show that fundy lunacy is not just restricted to Christians and Muslims.

(Videos of the incident here)

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At April 27, 2007 7:14 p.m., Anonymous mel said...

Actually it was nearer to a sexual assault than a peck on the cheek. But this takes nothing from your point. It would be interesting to research the origins of sexual taboos like these that are so much more powerful than those around violence. Western Christians get theirs from the Victorians, I think -- not strictly a religious tradition.

I almost wonder if there's some tie between authoritarian/conservative cultures and sexual control. It seem to this ignorant mind that the more liberal the political culture the lesser the sexual taboos and the greater the violence taboos.

Humans are such interesting creatures. I'm pleased to be one of them.

At April 28, 2007 3:43 a.m., Blogger Stew said...

I think Richard Gere should be burnt too, but it's more to do with the trauma I still suffer from being forced to watch Pretty Woman and Chicago.
The man apparantly spends a lot of time in India on charity work, which is what he was doing at the time of the alleged assault. You'd think he'd have learned a thing or two about Indian sensibilities.

At April 30, 2007 2:42 p.m., Blogger Carlo said...

Yeah, I was pretty shocked about this one too. What bugs me a bit is the whole thing about how the Indian government isn't just blowing this off as a difference in cultures. It seems as though the concept of 'international incident' is foreign to all the fundies who are demanding Richard Gere's death.

At May 04, 2007 12:13 a.m., Blogger Necator said...

I'm not sure all the nutso-ness can be blamed on religion per se. It seems many of the horrific mysoginistic murders by immolation are a result of 'insufficient' dowries. there may be a caste element in there too, althugh this is not strictly religious (or denominatinal at least) as the caste phenomenon seems to span the different religious groups in India.

Or myabe I'm just talking out of my ass...either way, unlike Mel, it makes me hate my species.

At May 09, 2007 12:57 p.m., Blogger AndrewFox said...

Love the picture comparisons.

I do think the real shock here isn't the break of the taboo, but rather that he should have been aware of the taboo by now. Either way, it's a simple difference in cultures (remember Adrian Brody's inappropriate but very charming kiss of Halle Berry?) and someone with half a brain and a little less dogma should be able to recognize that.

At May 16, 2007 4:12 p.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

Gere should have been conscious of the taboo by now, but that still doesn't mean the response isn't way out of whack.

I've always been annoyed at Sci-fi plots where poor relations between interplanetary species is kicked off by honest cultural misunderstandings during the first meeting. I'd always thought that any rational species would have matured beyond that and recognize that the cultural gaffe was due to honest unfamiliarity and just laughed it off. Now I'm not so sure, since there seem to be a lot of crazy unbalanced people out there.


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