The Supreme Court on Tuesday frowned upon the imposition of mother-tongue as a compulsory medium of instruction in educational institutions and warned it could go against the interests of students struggling in the competitive world dominated by English language.It's a point that has been argued several times over by many scholars before. I refrained from writing or talking about it in detail because it was my master's research paper and had plans of expanding it further for my Ph D. But since I've become disillusioned with the idea (of doing Ph D) I'll try to write shortened version of it here or do a podcast on it.
If you're not someone who follows all the 'special columns' in mainstream (Indian) newspapers and tabloid sites religiously, it's not that hard to be oblivious of Shruti Haasan's existence. But some of my friends aren't as fortunate. It’s aggravated further if they happen to be in the same 'batch' and went to a similar school as she -- one of those upscale vidhyalaya types located in that part of the city where it's easy to find a coffee shop than parking space.
While talking to one of them, she expressed disbelief and frustration over the kind of attention she's been getting from "all directions." She said how bad she was (at singing) at school and how nobody cared -- suggesting that she's not any better now but somehow the reception has reversed. I wasn't sure if that is the case. I checked couple of her 'performances' in YouTube and my friend was right: Shruti Haasan cannot sing. The good news, however, is that at least half of the people who commented didn't sound all that impressed.
If she sucks so bad why do the mainstream observers, especially men, seem to be entranced by her 'talent'? Well, because "she's hot." Let's suspend our subjectivities on both counts -- her musical prowess and her sex appeal -- and see exactly what that means and how those two things come together.
Sexual objectification and its consumption usually leans on some kind of perversion after a point. Here, perversion is not a debatable entity. No matter where one's moral compass stands, sexual fantasies are often predicated on some kind of perversion from that point. Where some kind of transgression takes place.
Even though there is plenty of free porn available in the internet -- with a lot of 'beautiful', 'hot' women -- why do people seem to be obsessed with "nipple slips" and cleavages of some celebrity? Because, they have already been mentally undressed by a part of their consumers. They're just curious whether their fantasy matches the reality. It's particularly misogynistic when the consumer is a man and the consumed is a woman. Because, a talented woman is superior to the man in question by virtue of their emplacement in the equation. So he brings her stature down by objectifying her sexually -- a common, uncomplicated tactic. The society has already sanctioned a prejudiced morality and status for sex for the genders. It's the reason why almost all curse words, transcending language barriers, invariably invoke a woman's sexual discipline. So when they say "she's hot" they ascribe other not so desirable characteristics too (that of a slut etc.).
Ms. Haasan's case is also a tad bit different. Someone who may very well be just another light-skinned, lanky lass has been credited with talent and aptitude barely discernible by most of us.Again, why?
Consumption is invariably hinged on the symbolic sign associated with what's consumed. Any object that is beyond the most basic human needs (such as hunger) is bound to become a sign in order to be consumed. Without these signs it's impossible to establish the difference between objects; to get/form a sense of uniqueness about anything (Baudrillard).
So Ms. Haasan may be light skinned and lean -- a conforming sign that fits a common sexual ideal -- but how is she unique? Besides, does she have to be unique? That's dependent on how particular you are about your sexual fantasies. For those who do, she has to be unique and 'different' from the rest of the pack. For this, her eyes, nose, hair, and, of course, cleavage may not suffice. Our dear male may have difficulty in putting them together as a unique sign. That's where 'talent' comes to the rescue. It's a safe refuge to preserve their sense of taste and nuance. They're not the shallow men whose penile reservoirs swell at the mere sight of cleavage, it takes serious talent to turn them on. It's only a coincidence that she's 'hot'.
For Indian television that is preoccupied by movies and movie personalities, Ms.Haasan makes for a nutritious fodder. Her relationship with the tabloids and their existence is almost as basic as food and hunger. And given how much our own lives are tabloidized, this bland soup will be 'hot' for a while.