Seething Buddhas

Posted by sepoy on September 20, 2004 · 3 mins read

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?


Chan'ad | September 20, 2004

And let's not forget the scandal that Indian cricketer Azharuddin caused when he supposedly signed his first name "Mohammed" on a shoe as an autograph for a fan. With regards to the subaltern blog, I have been anxiously waiting for weeks for you to start it, so you can't back out this late in the game! So that's my vote. Thanks!

Zack | September 20, 2004

Please do write that 1857 journal. It would be very interesting.

Sumana | September 20, 2004

"It is a good journal and I enjoyed reading it," you say. Then I would probably also enjoy reading it.