In this specific example, while making its comparison of India as a magical negro, the post fails to both note and appreciate the following bits of context:
That both the main white actress and the main desi actor in the film are British, with Dev Patel adopting an Indian accent and playing the part of a “native”. That all the featured Indian characters are coded as middle/upper class (the dress, able to speak fluent English, etc) and light skinned. That in many ways this is how India is actively marketed by its tourism sector (and also its government. Did a project once which involved collecting promo material from the Indian consul — I think in Chicago? — and it was quite hilariously illuminating), because they’ve judged that this type of pandering will bring in the tourist dollars.
And this exotification of India in the West has been happening since before the time of Columbus, and reducing said things to a “phenomenon in which a white character in a tv show or movie finds enlightenment…” seems rather glib. (Just because it appears in tvtropes does not mean TV created it!) And that’s not even getting into how most isms seem to inevitably become just like the racism that blacks (had) face(d) in the US.
I also thought it was telling how none of the links elaborating on the ‘magical negro’ trope went to one of the many black writers who’ve done the major work of deconstructing and dissecting it, much less linking to desi writers talking about colonialism and othering.
So what my disagreement boils down to, I think, is this: that this is a discussion about the Othering/exotification of India in mainstream Western culture that succeeds in further marginalizing/disenfranchising desis and other minorities. It doesn’t consider that we might be among the audience for this post (much less making room in the conversation for us, much less acknowledging all the times we’ve already discussed this), and in the way it takes something that rose out of certain contexts, misidentifies said contexts while applying it to different ones with no mention of the consequences of the differences, makes it, again, similar to what it’s aiming to critique.
And it brings home the point that, for all its social justice aims, this is a blog for a specific group of white people, by a specific group of white people, with all the marginalizations that entails.
Before I got my cabin, I found myself hunting constantly for a place of reprieve from all the people, the noise. I would hike, get lost in forests, and drive on back roads until I forgot from which I came. On one of these late night drives when I was 30, I got in a small car crash. With a tree.
The cause? A dog out in the middle of the road. I found myself more concerned with finding the animal than calling for help. She was malnourished and covered in ticks, probably ended up lost from her owners. No tags, no nothing, and it was late fall, the creature would’ve surely froze. I told her, “you’re lucky I didn’t hit you.” I called Cathy, she was indignant, didn’t want the dog anywhere near her car. She eventually caved, no one could deny Lucky with those eyes of hers.
I still remember what she looks like to this day. I love my current critters but I can always pause to remember the enormity of my pack. The deceased, and the living.
I spotted that multiple pageloads of my index get logged from Bristol every day. One of them could be you.
I thought I’d let you know that you’re just a shitty old hashtag to me now. I hope you know that I laugh every day about you throwing your hotdog down that hallway. It must be like opening a window and fucking the night.
You could’ve had a smart (top-99th-percentile-seven-points-off-genius), independent, honest, loyal woman who loved you, with a career and a smoking body. Instead, you picked a two-a-penny blonde who needed extra lessons until she was in high school because she could barely spell her own name; and with a reputation to rival Paris Hilton. I have seen her reputation drawn on a map, and it spans a good 30+ miles and 6 towns. Good luck with that!
I’ve also been shown multiple photos of her, and of the two of you. You definitely downgraded. (Can I also say that the Justin Bieber haircut makes you look like an idiot? Are you having an early mid-life crisis?)
Keep visiting my blog. It’s cool. I’ll keep driving past your girlfriend’s house twice a day on my way to work. Maybe I’ll pass you on your bike one day and make eye contact, and watch the look on your face as your balls retract up into your body cavity with fear.
Have a nice life sleeping with females who aren’t even half the woman I am!
Injured my damnable toe today. I was prepping to make the getaway to the cabin, packing my supplies. One of my gardening tools fell on it, so heavy it crushed it. I called Cathy calmly. She of course, wasn’t so calm. I made sure to snap a photo or two to do a study of it, it was quite comical. Cathy, mortified, shouting all kinds of things about my being absurd while trying to rush me into the car. One of the few moments I get to see her curse. Could have been worse, doesn’t make me any less miffed about it.