You might remember that old case of Nike shoes that spelled Allah on the back? Then there was the more recent Danish chapal that also had Allah. I don’t read Danish but that says the company apologizes for inadvertently offending Muslims. Then there was the Roberto Cavalli bikini that had various Hindu deities on it. And the American Eagle sandals with Ganesh on it. Ganesh rules but not on a sandal, i think. More chapal brouhaha with Hindu iconography. I blame Madonna for making “Hindu” chic. Causing all companies to “go exotic” using the generic Image Database software. Of course, Madonna then turned onto Kabbalah and is doing far greater harm to Judaism. Anyways.
Add to all that, the name of Philippe Caland who released a poster promoting his movie Hollywood Buddha where the actor is sitting on a giant Buddha head with his feet touching the face of the statue. That is not a nice thing to do, at all. 500 monks announced a fast – unto death. There was a march. Thai Govt. petitioned the US Embassy. And is writing a national etiquette book to inform culturally sensitive tourism. Phillippe Caland has since apologized for it: “The image was created by combining two photographs and never did anyone actually sit on a Buddha statue.” The movie seems banal enough. The director’s claim to fame is Boxing Helena. Enough said there.
So what does that teach us? Globalization necessitates awkward encounters such as these. I have really no sympathy for people who see Allah in a generic scribble or the Weeping Mary in a windowsill. But if the representation of the icon is unmistakable then the anger of the believer is justified and should be addressed. Otherwise, we should have a good laugh at the expense of multiculturalism. Although, I would like to write an etiquette book for my FOB desis in the United States. Especially, concerning race relations.
p.s.: I need a vote, gentle readers. If you click on the subaltern on the left, it promises you a journal of an unknown subaltern who fought in 1857. It is a good journal and I enjoyed reading it. I just don’t know if anyone else BESIDES me would enjoy reading it. Yes, it is my blog and I can do what I want but it is also more work that I ain’t doing if no one ever reads it. Which leads to the inevitable, if a tree falls in a forest and there is no one around to hear it…does it make a sound?