Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Suburbanpup Impoverished

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I cannot believe that Jian Ghomeshi gets paid to write. Though, I will admit that I don't think I've looked at a single one of his columns since the last one I mentioned here. It could just be bad luck, I suppose, that I only ever happen to read the most insipid mush that he is able to ladle out with 20 minutes' notice from his editors.

But--and this is assuming that his columns aren't all rubbish--when they are, they really are.

First paragraph:
Two events of significance occurred for brown people around the world on the weekend. The first is an unqualified demonstration of the East gaining acceptance and admiration in the popular culture of the West. The second is a royal reminder that we probably ought not get too uppity and optimistic about the first event.
"The first" he mentions here, refers to the recent critical success of the film Slumdog Millionaire:
The excellent little Indian-film-that-could is now a frontrunner for the Oscars. And there is no denying its brilliance. This is a foreign language film, set in Mumbai, and using South Asian actors and storylines. The music is the most outstanding and forward-thinking soundtrack around. The lead actress is arguably the most beautiful woman in the world. It has it all. Westerners are increasingly flocking to Slumdog Millionaire and ... it is uncompromisingly Indian. For that, many of us take a great deal of pride.
I love this. Not a word about the story, just a lot of vapid chictellectual approval of the actors' race, and the film's "forward-thinking soundtrack." ( ... I mean: a forward-thinking soundtrack?! That is: a forward-thinking soundtrack?!!)

No mention either, you'll notice, of the film's director. A Mancunian as it happens. ... But what, after all, does a director really do?

But the really silly part of this business is Mr. Ghomeshi's taking "a great deal of pride" in the success of the film. Why does he take so much pride? Well, because it is so "uncompromisingly Indian," like he says. The fact that he (Ghomeshi) is not Indian is, he continues, totally beside the point. The film is about "brown people" and, because he is a "brown" person he feels a deep and significant connection with it--or anyway, a deep and significant connection with its critical reception.

Pretty shallow stuff, Jian.

Still, he probably could've been forgiven this, except that he goes on to bemoan the sort of cad who is incapable of appreciating "the nuances of the lineage of brown people."*

Eating your cake and having it too, eh?--how you must have identified with the themes of this film!

(I should note at this point that I have it on good authority that Slumdog Millionaire really does achieve a Dickensian level of brilliance. Well worth the watch, apparently.)

He concludes the piece, in the style of gut-churning-personal-revelation-of-a-racism-afflicted-youth, by expressing his disapproval of Prince Harry, who--in case you didn't know--recently expressed his fondness for a "Paki":
I was reminded of those later early years when news broke that Prince Harry had been caught on videotape calling someone a "Paki" recently. Harry is the grandson of my Queen. The same Queen that was mine in England. I've never thought that she would want to harm me. And Prince Harry has since apologized. But then, using words like that is usually more than a simple mistake. Maybe our road to progress isn't all paved in the gold of the Globes just yet. Two events occurred this weekend. And sometimes some of us still feel like slumdogs rather than millionaires.
To my mind, there are only two things that can be said about this:

1) I don't know which of Mr. Ghomeshi's high school teachers insisted to him that a piece of writing should always end with a dazzling crescendo of emotive synthesis ... I remain undecided in any case as to whether, if I met them, I should prefer to shake them heartily by the hand and thank them for the laughs, or slap them hard across the face.

2) Maybe our road to progress isn't all paved in the what of the whats now?!


*Which is doubly silly given Mr. Ghomeshi's broad (if utterly trivial) strokes re. well-meaning white people.