Movies and Feminism

It was very tough teaching 3rd grade kids about politics, and they could only learn after great dramatization of the whole lesson. But it was so surprising to me that when we showed them the videos in form of cartoons on the same, they were completely receptive! It made me realise the power of visuals in our day today life. We cognise visuals before written letters or sounds and believe what we see. The human reaction to visual is natural while written word can only be understood when once related to a visual. This was the reaction of primary school students to some videos, creating a very powerful teaching tool. Nothing explains to them religious unity better than the different symbols of each coming and clashing together to make a rainbow.

All great writers have proven to create imagery which pops out of the written word as soon as you hold the book. We are always known to select the more visually ‘attractive’ option if we are faced with a choice. Such is the influencing power of visuals. It raises a major concern in my mind. We have all heard arguments on television when Bollywood is questioned on its depiction of women as objects and has been blamed for the many crimes against women in our country.

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Now obviously movies aren’t the sole reason for rapes in our country, it is a more deeply rooted problem than that. Yet, should this ‘highly influential’ medium be given a free pass in the name of artistic freedom in a country whose moral values haven’t matured to understand right from wrong? Right now, when movies are easily available and our population is filled with people who haven’t had access to quality education, or others who have been witness to misogyny since birth and see no harm in it? Can we as a nation afford to take such a big risk? During the arguments the spokespersons of our film industry reiterate that artistic freedom or freedom of expression is paramount, can they shirk away from their social responsibilities. It is a fact that you cannot show films of extreme violence to children since they are very impressionable, but who takes responsibility that all adults are blessed with reasonable sense? Must not movies be censored to suit the audiences when the lives of 49% of the population is at stake? Women are reduced to mere props in mainstream Hindi movies where their only bit to limelight is the much awaited item song. It induces in men the thought that women actually have no ‘other use’ which cements their belief in what they’ve experienced throughout their lives. Women are independent, living breathing humans who demand respect and safety but not many movies portray the image. They all revolve around the ‘hero’ and the heroine’s only job is to be his love interest.

I am not saying that government, society or those ‘boys’ are not to be blamed. But we must ask ourselves the question, who makes the boys? Movies are a mirror to society just as society mimics cinema.