Students will submit a total of 2 reading responses during this course – one at the end of two modules of your choosing. Please see the course syllabus for exact due dates. Each reading reflection sho
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Students will submit a total of 2 reading responses during this course – one at the end of two modules of your choosing. Please see the course syllabus for exact due dates. Each reading reflection should be a minimum of 4 pages (double-spaced) and should include the following components: a brief recap of the main points of that particular module, personal critical reflections and analysis, and the use of at least two other scholarly sources (NOT from the class readings). The minimum length of 4 pages does NOT include a title page or bibliography (which should be separate pages).
The recap may include a brief summary of the module as a whole OR it may focus on one specific topical unit (i.e. the specific lecture/reading on televangelism). Additionally, the summary should be relatively short and concise as the critical reflections are the most important component of this assignment. Students may wish to address the following questions: How do specific forms of media (articles, internet sites, TV shows, movies, or music) portray specific religion traditions? Are these portrayals accurate or do they reflect common stereotypes? How do religious traditions employ different forms of media? Is there a political component to these representations?
Format: Please format your submission using the following parameters: 12-point new times roman, default margins, and double spaced. Please include a title page with the course number, your name, student number, and assignment title. Also be sure to use in-text citations (MLA, APA, or Chicago are all acceptable) and include a separate bibliography. In-text citations are required for both direct quotes and paraphrased sections where you have included content from a source.
Question: For this response, you want to analyze the depictions of religion and apply the various theoretical lenses that we have discussed in previous modules. For example, consider the following questions: Do the religious depictions contain inherent stereotypes? Do they account for sectarian differences within religious tradition or do they present the tradition as a singular entity? Do you see evidence of racialization of religion? Is religion associated with violence? What is the tone of the portrayal? Does the show/film employ comedy? For what purpose? Are the depictions relatively accurate? Does religion play an integral role in the plot or is it mainly in the background? How does religion tie into the plot? Is religion depicted in a positive or negative way?
Be sure to use either the shows/films from this module as your case studies for analysis. You might also wish to include some examples of your own.
Students will submit a total of 2 reading responses during this course – one at the end of two modules of your choosing. Please see the course syllabus for exact due dates. Each reading reflection sho
This article was downloaded by: [University of Manitoba Libraries] On: 29 July 2014, At: 10:23 Publisher: Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Journal of Popular Film and Television Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/vjpf20 Questions of Identity: Cultural Encounters in Gurinder Chadha’s Bend It Like Beckham Guido Rings a a Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge Published online: 23 Sep 2011. To cite this article: Guido Rings (2011) Questions of Identity: Cultural Encounters in Gurinder Chadha’s Bend It Like Beckham , Journal of Popular Film and Television, 39:3, 114-123, DOI: 10.1080/01956051.2010.541954 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01956051.2010.541954 PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the “Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sources of information. 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Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions 114114 QUESTIONS OF IDENTITY: By Guido Rings Cultural Encounters in Gurinder Chadha’s Bend It Like BeckhamDownloaded by [University of Manitoba Libraries] at 10:23 29 July 2014 Questions of Identity 115 Abstract: Probably more than any other European country, contemporary Brit- ain has been deeply marked by mass immigration and diaspora, in particular from India and Pakistan, and British Asian cinema has joined the often rather polemic media debate about the coun- try’s “multiculturalism” as an outstand- ing example of diasporic reflections on the topic. Be it as a potential mirror of popular attitudes, ideas, and preoccupa- tions, or as regards the likely impact on common views and opinions on migra – tion, research cannot afford to ignore the filmic portrayals. In this context, this article explores cultural self-representa – tions by British Indians in one popular example of British Asian cinema: Gur – inder Chadha’s Bend It Like Beckham. Considering the contextual patterns of European migrant cinema, key ques- tions are as follows: (1) How does the film express cultural differences, and to what extent does this follow traditional concepts of culture? (2) How is the in- terconnectedness of cultures articulated, and how does this relate to current no- tions of interculturality and transcultur – ality? The article shows how contempo – rary films by celebrated directors such as Chadha, Damian O’Donnell, Hark Bohm, and Philippe Faucon fall into the trap of traditional concepts of culture that break with the strong intercultural or transcultural perspectives voiced by the same directors. Keywords: Bend It Like Beckham , Gurinder Chadha, diaspora, identity, transculturality G urInDEr CHADHA, the di- rector and co-scriptwriter of Bend It Like Beckham (with her husband Paul Mayeda Berges and Guljit Bindra), could probably best be described as one of the leading British- Asian film directors. Although born in nairobi (Kenya), her parents moved to Southall, London, when she was only two years of age, and it is her life as a woman with Indian background in Lon- don that marks her first documentary output. not by coincidence do most of her films explore the lives of Indians in the united Kingdom: in 1989, she pro- duced I’m British But . . . , focusing on young British Asians, and—shortly af- terward, with her own production com- pany umbi Films—Nice Arrangement (1990) and Acting Our Age (1991), concentrating on a wedding and on the life of elderly British Asians. She is, however, most famous for full-length fictional movies such as Bhaji on the Beach (1993), Bend It Like Beckham (2002), and Bride and Prejudice (2004), which are all centered on “East-West” encounters in Britain and beyond. Her latest film, Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging (2008), is a certain exception to the rule, although it also draws on questions of migration (here, British mi- gration to new Zealand), and the classic coming-of-age story provides links to Bend It Like Beckham . Chadha’s biggest commercial success to date is clearly Bend It like Beckham, a film that at first glance follows the traditional pattern of generational con- flicts within the British Asian diaspora: a young second generation British In- dian woman (Jess, played by Parminder nagra) clashes with family traditions while pursuing her personal ambitions as a footballer. However, the film’s set- ting in Hounslow (Southall, London), near the area where Chadha grew up, and the numerous links to her own auto- biography enable the director to present a very differentiated picture of a diverse community. Chadha herself even goes so far as to link the film’s success to that aspect: “[I]n Britain it’s the most suc- cessful British-financed British movie ever and I think it’s worked so well because it’s very culturally specific to Hounslow, to West London, and it talks about a world which is really mixed without going on about it” (Fischer). Whatever the reasons for its interna – tional popularity, the movie clearly fol- lows the footsteps of Damian O’Don- nell’s East Is East (1999) in the way that it goes into distance to the art-house de- sign of most British Asian films of the 1980s and 1990s. In its combination of light-hearted comedy and “a modern social realist interrogation into identity, belonging and Britishness,” Chadha’s Bend It Like Beckham was—just like East Is East—marketed extensively for a British audience that has come to recognize the Asian diaspora as part of a long process of postcolonial Britain. 1 It is for the entertainment and critical reflection of this audience that Chadha wanted to shoot the film “from the point of view of someone who is Indian and English at the same time” (Fischer), meaning here Jess, but her comment ob- viously also applies to the director her – self. Clearly, as an account of a young woman of Indian origin who refuses to cook and serve others in her search for an alternative way of life, Bend It Like Beckham is based on biographical evi- dence, starting with a rebellious charac – ter that Chadha indicates as follows: I refused to wear Indian clothes, and I would always get out of cooking. . . . Whenever guests came, the men would sit at the table, and the women would have to serve them, and I would sit at the table as well. . . . At the same time, I was extremely outspoken, and I used to say, well mum, look, I’m not cooking, you know, it’s oppressive. You don’t even understand. (Fischer ) Jess is similarly skeptical as regards traditional agendas, and she is also very outspoken when it comes to defending her football interests that develop dur – ing the film. At the beginning, the au- Copyright © 2011 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC DOI: 10.1080/01956051.2010.541954 [T]he film’s setting in Hounslow, near the area where Chadha grew up, and the numerous links to her own autobiography enable the director to present a very differentiated picture of a diverse community. Shown on left page: Bend It Like Beckham (2002 uK/Germany) aka Kick It Like Beckham. Directed by Gurinder Chadha. Shown from left: Keira Knightley (as Juliette Paxton), Parminder nagra (as Jesminder Bharma). Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox/Photofest.Downloaded by [University of Manitoba Libraries] at 10:23 29 July 2014 116 JPF&T—Journal of Popular Film and Television dience gets to know the protagonist as somebody occasionally playing football with boys in the park. However, this gets much more serious when Jules, a white, middle-class English girl (played by now-famous Keira Knightly) invites Jess to join the local women’s soccer team, the Hounslow Harriers trained by Joe, an Irish coach who always wanted to play professional football but was held back by a knee injury. Instead, he now tries to help Jess and Jules to fulfill their dream of a professional career in the united States, an idea that Jess’s par – ents are extremely disapproving of when they discover the secret football activi – ties of their daughter. However, when Jess’s father realizes how important the football career has become for his daugh – ter, he appears much more tolerant, and with his new personal attitude comes a change in the behavior of the whole fam – ily, who now allows Jess to join Jules on her journey to the united States. The $5 million film that grossed $350 million worldwide in its first year alone (siliconindia 15)—an astound- ing amount to which one has to add the extensive video and DVD rental and purchases from the last six years—has not only been received as an “amus- ing comedy” and a “feel-good” movie (Elley 32), or in short, “a well-made au- dience-pleaser” (Chaudhury), but also as a critical film that has the “capac – ity to provoke thought and discussion about a large scope of important issues surrounding cultural differences and identity” (raschke 126). Algeo’s claim to use it for the enhancement of critical analysis in cultural geography classes (133) correlates with Sharon Sandhu’s impression that the film very much ad- dresses key aspects in the life of South Asian women in the diaspora, especially when intergenerational and intereth – nic conflicts in sport are at stake. This seems to be the case with Sandhu her – self who, as a second generation Sikh woman living in Canada, recognizes herself and her family in the movie (“I had never seen myself being so accu- rately reflected in popular culture be- fore”; 7), but also—and partially even more—the participants of her study, a tendency that seems to connect with Chadha’s own experiences. Considering the fact that negative reviews tend to criticize a stereotypical mise-en-scène of Indian culture in the film, a perspective well represented by Elley when he summarizes Chadha’s work as a “gallery of broadly played ste- reotypes” (32), this article will explore how far Bend It Like Beckham tends to support popular monocultural con- structs of British–Indian relations and to what degree its transcultural elements are able to break with the othering of traditional hegemonic narrative. Jess: A Model for Transcultural Relations? There is no doubt that Jess combines aspects from both cultures, Indian or— to be more precise—Sikh traditions maintained by her parents and partially her sister Pinky, and English customs and preferences that are associated here with young woman’s independence and a celebration of football for which Jules and her father are given as examples. Consequently, Algeo is right in criti – cizing current research on Bend It Like Beckham for its radical marginalization or complete ignorance of the Bhamra family’s Sikh background, which links up to Chadha’s family tradition. This gap in research is quite surprising tak- ing into consideration that the film in- dicates this dimension very clearly. First, there is a painting of the Golden Temple of Amritsar prominently placed in their living room near Guru nanak’s portrait, and a gold model of that temple sits on the shelf close to the bar area. Also, Mr. Bhamra’s turban can hardly be overlooked, and the fact that—dur – ing his older daughter’s engagement ceremony—he gives her fiancée the tra- ditional gift of a kara bracelet reminds critical viewers of the “five K” practices that are “symbolic of maintaining proper spiritual order” in a Sikh household (Al- geo 135). In addition, cultural bound- aries are drawn by food, for example, when Mrs. Bhamra—the guardian of the family’s cultural heritage—repeatedly forces Jess to help prepare traditional food from the Punjabi region most Brit- ish Sikhs originate from. This attitude is closely linked to her perception of young Indian women as future wives for Indian men, as one of her statements suggests: “What kind of family would want a daughter-in-law who can kick a football around all day but can’t make round chapatis?” A comparable mecha – nism of othering via food is visible when Jules’s mother, Paula Paxton, talks to Jess about the “lovely curry” she made the other night. The overarching inter – est in entertaining a wider audience does not allow elaborating all these aspects in detail, but they are present, and Chadha herself highlights food as a “great codi- fier of culture” (Fischer). Similarly, the average viewer does not have to be familiar with the details of recent English football history to fol- low the film, but a basic knowledge of David Beckham’s ability to “bend the ball,” his “metrosexual” appearance, and the cross-generational and cross- class popularity of football are helpful for an analysis of the “Englishness” portrayed. Certainly, football is the key topic that unites Jules and her father Frank Paxton from the very beginning of the movie, and toward the end even manages to bridge the generational dif- ference between Jules and her mother. Highly symbolic is the scene in which Frank explains offside rules to his wife Paula, so that she can understand Jules’s “football life” a bit better. Interestingly enough, this is done with the help of in- ternational food: FrAnK. The teriyaki sauce is the goalkeeper. PAuLA. Goalkeeper. FrAnK. The posh French mustard is the defender. PAuLA. Defender. FrAnK. The salt is the attacker. PAuLA. Sea salt. FrAnK. The sea salt is the attacker. now, when the ball is played forward, the sea salt has to be level with the mustard. [Jules enters.] Hello darling. right. now watch and concentrate. [Moves salt back and forward.] Off- side, onside. Offside, onside. In short, the English middle-class family is here characterized as a har – monious group thanks to the unifying power of football, and international food seems to reflect her open-minded – ness vis-à-vis other cultures.Downloaded by [University of Manitoba Libraries] at 10:23 29 July 2014 Questions of Identity 117 ish Asianness as follows: “[W]e do not get the sense that any one culture has ‘crossed over’ or been assimilated, but that a new form of cultural identity is emerging. This hybrid identity is ‘Brit- ish-Asianness,’ a fluid evolving identity, which cannot be reduced to any one thing” (“Beyond” 213). A similar hybrid position could be claimed for George’s children in East Is East (1999), the young British Asian women in Chadha’s melodramatic Bhaji on the Beach (1993), and—to cross national boundaries—the Turk- ish Germanness presented by Hark Bohm’s protagonist in Yasemin (1988). In all cases, cultural boundaries are transgressed, and it is usually second- generation migrants who select more or less consciously what aspects of each cultural background are acceptable and preferable for them. In addition, East Is East and Yasemin are—next to Bend It Like Beckham —good examples of the frequently resulting generational con- flict in European migrant cinema, in which the role of the guardian of “ori- ental” traditions tends to be associated with the first generation while most children appear as “rebels.” 3 Although male children also rebel (see Casim in Ken Loach’s Ae fond kiss (2004) and Tariq in East Is East), it is in particular the resistance of young women against the cultural heritage of sexism that seems to be of interest for directors of European migrant cinema, perhaps because its transcultural gender dimension engages more viewers and sells better, but probably also because young women are often in a weaker position to develop their views within the framework of traditional patriarchal norms of societies that their parents can be associated with. Certainly, in Philippe Faucon’s Samia (2000), Yas- emin, and Bend It Like Beckham, both father and mother try to make their daughters follow traditional patterns of coming of age, although with different degrees of stubbornness and direct – ness, which in Bohm’s and Chadha’s work significantly change in the course of the story. In addition, there is in all these films an element of machismo that governs the behavior of many younger males and makes them support the pa- triarchal hierarchies implemented by the first generation. Samia’s eldest brother and Yasemin’s cousin are good exam – ples of that tendency, but the tall Indian male at Pinky’s wedding who wants to “conquer” as many women as possible, including Jess, fits into the same cat – egory. In her focus on Latin American backgrounds, María Elena de Valdés ex- plains this phenomenon as follows: [T]he male is also the victim of ma- chismo because the social system itself is structured so that a few will exploit the many. under machismo the male, like the female, has been dispossessed of his identity as a social being. At an impersonal level, the machismo at- titude, however, provides compensa – tion for the male, for no matter how dominated he is . . . , he has someone over whom he is master: his wom(a/e) n. (17) Like Samia and Yasemin, Jess does not want to fully conform to her par – ents’ cultural expectations but rather wishes to be part of life in the host cul- ture that she has accepted as part of her own. However, the degree of “deter – ritorialization” and “territorialization” of cultural ground varies a lot and—de- pending on family relations, contacts to the host culture, and the message the director wishes to disseminate—the “transcultural” model proposed can be an extremely hybrid one, which tends to blur the cultural boundaries involved or rather a significantly extended but still predominantly monocultural con- struct that shifts traditional boundaries to a different level without dissolving them. Jess is, from the very beginning of the film, situated in-between the two camps. Jess is, from the very beginning of the film, situated in-between the two camps: on one hand, she loves her parents and does not want to disappoint them or ruin her sister’s wedding. To please them she wears traditional dresses and serves guests when required, and—toward the end—she is even prepared to give up on Joe with the remark: “Letting me go is a big step for my mum and dad. I don’t know how they’d survive if I told them about you too.” On the other hand, she cannot accept the future role her parents have reserved for her, which implies studying to become a solicitor but then ultimately marrying an Indian man to fulfill the traditional role of a housewife, for which purpose she has to learn how to cook Punjabi food. On her search for an alternative life, Jess discovers football, and she is deter – mined to develop her skills further, de- spite her parent’s disapproval of female football and her own desire to main – tain good relations with them, which force her to hide everything related to it. Consequently, we see her in numer – ous carnivalesque situations: sometimes carrying platters of samosas and wear – ing a salwar kamiz 2 in traditional parties at home, but then, again, pursuing her football interests in a professional out- fit, which for her mother means running around “half-naked” in front of men. Support for this hybrid lifestyle comes from both cultural backgrounds. While Pinky helps her to cover up most foot- ball activities in front of her parents, Joe repeatedly tries to convince Mr. Bhamra of the need to let go of Jess so that she can develop her talent. That support al- lows her to fully engage in a quest for her own British Asian identity vis-à-vis the homogenous, separatist, and essen- tialist culture concept cultivated by her parents as well as Jules’s mother. In her comments on Bhaji on the Beach, Sarita Malik describes such Brit- Like Samia and Yasemin, Jess does not want to fully conform to her parents’ cultural expectations but rather wishes to be part of life in the host culture that she has accepted as part of her own.Downloaded by [University of Manitoba Libraries] at 10:23 29 July 2014 118 JPF&T—Journal of Popular Film and Television The Limits of Transculturality Without any doubt, football has crossed cultural and gender boundaries, and world championships for both men and women could be given as examples for its global dimension, which Bend It Like Beckham stresses with references to women football in Britain, Germany, and—above all—the uSA as a model to follow. Even more important seems to be the ethnic mix of professional football teams, to which the Hounslow Harriers fully subscribe when they nominate a black girl as team captain, an Irish man as coach, and British Asian Jess as attacker. In this sense, football in the film helps to connect people, but how far does it support transcultural dialogue and individual search for new hybrid identities; what kind of cultural choice does it facilitate; and does that choice imply a major victory of hu- man agency over collective structures, as scholar Graham Huggan would hope for? In parallel, we might want to ask the same questions for cricket, which is the other sport highlighted in the film, as Mr. Bhamra originally wanted to join an English cricket team and his bitterness about being “thrown out” of that team is very significant for his disapproval of Jess joining an English football team. First, it is worth noting that England played a major role in the development of both sports. The Football Association founded in 1863 in London is the first ever national football association, which still hosts all professional football clubs in England and is ultimately responsible for the appointment of managers to na- tional teams (both men’s and women’s). Cricket, on the other hand, is first docu- mented as being played in England, and since the eighteenth century, it has been portrayed as English national sport. Originally, neither cricket nor football was particularly associated with India, but the expansion of the British empire led to a strong assimilation of cricket by Indian elites during colonial rule and could, as such, be considered as part of the “mimicry” mechanisms that Homi Bhabha outlines in his Location of Cul- ture (1994). In the meantime, India has become famous for cricket, too (since the film is aimed at entertaining a Brit- ish mass audience. However, the racism in parts of British society toward South Asian migrants from the former colo- nies is clearly indicated, when another female footballer calls Jess a “Paki” during a match, and when Mr. Bhamra talks about English cricket players who “threw” him “out of the club like a dog.” In both cases, the former colonial sub- ject feels extremely humiliated: Jess as- saults the other player and gets sent off the football pitch for it, and Mr. Bhamra “vows” he will never play cricket again. In this context, it is worth remem – bering that the Bhamra family—like Chadha’s parents—appears as “twice migrants” in the sense that they mi- grated from India to Kenya first, before finally coming to Britain. Chadha was born in nairobi, the capital and also the largest city of Kenya, and Mr. Bhamra mentions to Joe as an explanation of his disapproval of Jess’s football activities that he was “nairobi’s best fast bowler” and still did not get a chance to play in an English club. Once again, there is a clear link to colonial history as it was the British East Africa Company that recruited substantial numbers of Sikhs for the construction of the ugandan railroad, and they tended to form part of a new middle class in colonial East Africa: “Europeans dominated admin – istration, Indians filled positions in white-collar support, construction, and infrastructure development, and black Africans were relegated to manual la- bour” (Algeo 136). It is this loyal position at the side of the colonial master that caused a mass exodus of Indians after Kenyan inde- pendence in 1963, and that makes the exclusion of Mr. Bhamra from an Eng- lish cricket club “back” in the British “fatherland” all the more humiliating. Out of his perspective, it must look as if he and fellow Indians were good enough to help stabilize the British empire and to lose their positions with the Brit- ish when these were deprived of their power during decolonization, but then they were not considered good enough for a life together with the English white man. In this sense, the transcultural identi – ties sought by young Mr. Bhamra and 1926 it is a member of the Imperial and then International Cricket Conference or ICC), and Mr. Bhamra’s strong inter – est in it should be seen in the context of this colonial heritage. His daughter Jess prolongs his tendencies when she aims very much for the same: being admitted by an English sport club to play profes- sionally “for England.” This is stressed right at the beginning of the film in her daydream sequence, in which she plays with Beckham together for Manches- ter united against the Belgian football club Anderlecht, and later on it becomes a reality when she plays for the Houn- slow Harriers against a German team in Hamburg. not by coincidence, her role model is Beckham, the captain of the English national team at the time the movie was shot. In other words, neither young Mr. Bhamra nor Jess can be considered as individuals who are consciously aim – ing at a life that combines British and Indian cultures on equal footing. rather, it would be fair to say that their main ob- jective is to become part of British host culture, and in both cases it has to be un- derstood that the sport they are obsessed with stands for a way of life they want to achieve: cricket can be associated with English upper-class traditions that many British still want to be associated with (in particular if they have never formed part of the upper class), whereas football is the more popular sport that seems to nurture old dreams of individual fame and wealth, never mind one’s humble origins, which links up directly to the success stories of former working-class footballers like Beckham and Wayne rooney. It is not surprising that Mr. Bhamra, who originally worked for the British colonial elite in East Africa, tends to see his way of life embodied in cricket, while his daughter—a second- generation migrant raised in Houn- slow—who is not unfamiliar with her and other South Asians being othered as “Pakis” affiliates more than with Brit- ish working-class heroes. However, in both cases it is obvious that these de- scendants of colonized subjects would like to become respected by members of the former colonial center in which they have decided to stay. This dimen – sion is not elaborated in detail, because Downloaded by [University of Manitoba Libraries] at 10:23 29 July 2014 Questions of Identity 119 Jess cannot be described as hybrid Brit- ish Asianness, but as different forms of imagined Englishness, be it traditional- aristocratic or contemporary-popular, which both characters regard as lead culture for all ethnicities to follow. Cer- tainly, during major parts of the film, Mr. Bhamra explicitly rejects all forms of Englishness, but this is only because he had been rejected by the English (cricket players). As soon as he under – stands that everybody has to fight for his rights against occasional demonstra – tions of racism, the viewer sees him in the final sequence playing cricket pub- licly in front of the house, while an ice cream van, a nostalgic symbol of tradi – tional English culture, passes by. This interpretation is enhanced by the mise- en-scène of all major English charac – ters who seem to be extremely tolerant, open-minded, and “transcultural” in the best sense of the concept in so far as most do not perceive any cultural or bi- ological differences in their interaction with Jess but, instead, value her talent or character, be it as a good football player (Jules’s perception), Jules’s friend (Mr. Paxton’s perception), or a lovable team mate (the Hounslow Harriers appear as a team without prejudice or envy). In the few occasions in which cultural differ – ences are noted, it is either in a positive way (e.g., when Jules’s mother associ- ates “respect for elders” with Indian cul- ture and wants Jess to teach that to her daughter), or the negative aspect can be revised on the spot. 4 Behind these constructs, the uSA is portrayed as the ultimate paradise for female football and the highly dynamic and emancipated contemporary lifestyle Jess and Jules represent. Clearly, the new world power and, as such, succes- sor of the old European colonial em- Bend It Like Beckham (2002 uK/Germany) aka Kick It Like Beckham. Directed by Gurinder Chadha. Shown in center: Keira Knightley (as Juliette Paxton), to left of actress in sari; Parminder nagra (as Jesminder Bharma), in sari; Shaznay Lewis (as Mel), to right of actress in sari. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox/Photofest.Downloaded by [University of Manitoba Libraries] at 10:23 29 July 2014 120 JPF&T—Journal of Popular Film and Television pires, is presented as the model to follow when it comes to equal opportunities in the competitive life football represents, and—in this respect—the new transcul – tural way of life appears to be ultimately an American one. All this is reminiscent of George ritzer’s strong critique of the McDonaldization of societies that fol- low increasingly more the four key con- cepts disseminated by the well-known fast-food chain: efficiency, predictabil – ity, control, and calculability (ritzer 13–15). no doubt, Jess has fully signed up to these norms, as she wants to be assessed according to her performance on the football pitch; her job is to shoot goals or to help Jules shoot them, and it is the final score that counts. Similarly, she supports the capitalist cult around football heroes like Beckham by pur – chasing his posters and football shirts, and she is also able to set an example in school. At least her father deducts from her A-level results that she can now be- come a “fine top-class solicitor.” In this respect, the English and the American ways of life seem to be fully compat – ible, the only key difference being that northern Americans seem to be leading the way in emancipation from outdated norms, and they also seem to have more resources to support new players in the field. In this regard, the emigration of top talents like Jess and Jules resembles the famous brain drain from Europe to the united States, and Joe knows only too well about the mechanics of money when uttering that he will recruit the two into a yet-to-be established profes- sional English team “if he can afford it.” However, it is not all about money as Joe’s intonation suggests. Just like in Hollywood robinsonades, such as Cast Away (2001) and The Beach (2000), the end of this British movie reflects “a popular mythology of the united States as the metaphoric center of the world, the place to which the rest of the world flees in search for a better life” (Weaver- Hightower 304). If, however, instead of cultural dialogue and negotiations of identity constructs Bend It Like Beck- ham offers predominantly an imagined Anglo-American West as the superior model to follow, then it might not be wrong to return to Edward Said’s criti – cism of the traditional dichotomy be- tween the “West and rest” (20), which Stuart Hall has explained as follows: this “West and the rest” discourse greatly influenced Enlightenment think – ing. . . . In Enlightenment discourse, the West was the model, the prototype and the measure of social progress. It was western progress, civilization, rational – ity and development that were cele – brated. And yet . . . without the rest (or its internal “Others”) the West would not have been able to recognize and represent itself as the summit of hu- man history. The figure of “the Other,” banished to the edge of the conceptual world and constructed as the absolute opposite, the negation, of everything the West stood for, reappeared at the very centre of the discourse of civiliza – tion, refinement, modernity and devel – opment in the West. “The Other” was the “dark” side—forgotten, repressed and denied; the reverse image of En- lightenment and modernity. (312–13) Taking into account that Bend It Like Beckham has been designed in large parts as a comedy for common entertain – ment, it is not surprising that the Indian Other does not always appear as “the absolute opposite” and “the negation of everything the West stands for.” There is, however, no doubt that the traditional Indian alternatives to Jess’s Western- style transculturality are being stressed in their exotic, stagnant, and either gro- tesquely funny or simply oppressive dif- ference to Anglo-American liberalism. An early scene, in which Jess and Jules effortlessly overtake two traditionally dressed, elderly, quite overweight, and ridiculously slow Indian women during their jog in the park, has in all its humor a clear symbolic message to deliver: the winners in contemporary society are those who fully adapt to the new West- ern way of life. If, however, individual choice for traditional British Asians is limited to assimilation and success or “being left behind” if they continue to stick to their absurd traditions, then it is no surprise that ultimately most filmic characters show at least a willingness to sign up to the West: the traditional jog- gers by jogging, Mr. Bhamra by chang- ing his mind, and even Mrs. Bhamra and some of the aunts by happily accepting Jess’s decision to play professional foot- ball in the united States. Conclusion Considering that the retreat of Jess’s family, and in particular her mother and aunts, into monocultural constructs seems incompatible with the collective well-being, the film ultimately recom – mends throwing off the shackles of what has been portrayed as Indian cul- tural heritage in the wider sense and tra- ditional Sikhism, in particular, to fully embrace something that is portrayed as Anglo-American lead culture. When Mr. Bhamra motivates Jess at the very end “to fight” and “to win” he does not make any reference to her Indian background but focuses on the competi – tive football career his daughter seems to have chosen completely out of her own free will. Although benevolent Mr. Bhamra reveals here a significantly dif- ferent attitude to the stubborn and vio- lent George Khan from East Is East and to Yasemin’s father Yusuf in the second half of Bohm’s film, the key message of incompatibility and culture clash is very much the same. Since Chadha supports her messages with the metaphorical use of food as markers of cultural difference, it is no coincidence that eight-year-old Jess burns her upper leg while trying to make herself some beans on toast, possibly the worst invention of English cuisine ever. Clearly, from Mrs. Bham- ra’s perspective, a good Sikh woman from the Punjabi region cooks and eats Punjabi food (not beans on toast) and marries another Sikh (not an Irish guy; never mind a Moslem), and Khan would fully agree with that exclusive binary view. The problem with Chadha’s film [T]he traditional Indian alternatives to Jess’s Western-style transculturality are being stressed in their exotic, stagnant, and either grotesquely funny or simply oppressive difference to Anglo-American liberalism.Downloaded by [University of Manitoba Libraries] at 10:23 29 July 2014 Questions of Identity 121 is that it fights this dichotomy with an- other binary construct by ignoring any valid hybrid construct in-between: you are either fully trapped in traditional In- dian customs and cannot even prepare beans on toast without seriously injur- ing yourself, or you are fully geared up for an Anglo-American way of life marked by the capitalist cult of football heroes and do not want to cook Punjabi food, dress up traditionally, or pray to Guru nanak, because it simply does not fit. There is no hybrid dish in the whole film, and international food seems to be acceptable in a genuinely English fam- ily only, not in a British Asian house- hold. Although some of Khan’s children combine mosque visits with the carrying of a Christian cross during Easter pro- cessions and hamburger eating at home, for Jess it is an either/or, and the cultural spaces are clearly highlighted. The col- lective space at home is traditional In- dian, whereas public spaces (like the football pitch) tend to be free from those traditions. However, the supposedly free spaces seem to be advancing into traditional places, and Jess’s room is a good example of that. In this dynamic conquest, some temporary mixtures are imaginable but they tend to appear as very limited, fragile, and ridiculously funny in their slow adaptation of West- ern norms and customs (e.g., the two Indian women jogging in traditional dresses in the park), which stresses again the incompatibility of South Asian and Anglo-American cultures. unlike Khan or Yusuf, Mr. and Mrs. Bhamra are ultimately depicted as nice examples of first generation British Asian migrants, but they seem so like – able precisely because they manage to throw off the shackles of Indian tradi – tions whenever it gets too critical. In- stead of preserving their cultural heri- tage (or what they perceive as such) at all costs—that is, with the use of violence like Khan and Yusuf—they either openly admit their “mistakes” (Mr. Bhamra) or simply surrender to the collective will (Mrs. Bhamra) and that often in a not-too-credible way. Who can seriously imagine people who have been portrayed throughout a film as extremely traditional suddenly chang- ing their minds in the way the Bhamra family does, including Mrs. Bhamra and the aunts? However, it could be argued that this question of plausibility is not really a major problem for the credibil – ity of the film, because—ultimately—it fits into the grotesquely funny projec – tion of traditional Indians: Jess’s mother is revealed as an absurd character right at the beginning when she confronts the well-known football experts with out- dated clichés of female roles, so why not imagine yet another “weird twist” at the end? After all, absurd attitudes seem to be a characteristic of traditional South Asians in contemporary British cin- ema about migration anyway (consider Khan, who married an English woman but then wants to stop his children from interethnic relationships at all costs). Admittedly, Bend It Like Beckham also makes fun of some English charac – ters, but it should be considered that by far most of the laughs go at the expense of traditional Indians, and furthermore, English faults tend to redirect the view- er’s attention to similar but more pro- nounced weaknesses in the case of sup- posedly Indian customs. Worth noting is the homophobia revealed by Jules’s mother, who gets extremely irritated, if not hysterical, when she is assuming that her daughter is having a love affair with Jess. However, quite in contrast to the Bhamra family, she ultimately knows that homophobia is not acceptable and, after her outburst at Pinky’s wedding, admits her fault—even if this acknowl- edgment is probably more a question of political correctness than of a change in mentality since it comes after the disclo- sure of her misunderstandings—that is, the reestablishment of the heterosexual world order. On the other hand, homo- sexuality appears to be such a taboo in Indian culture that the Bhamra family is unable to understand Mrs. Paxton´s homophobic outburst, and even tolerant Jess expresses a deeply rooted belief of total incompatibility between Indian- ness and homosexual behavior when faced with Tony’s coming out: “But you are Indian!” Precisely the connection between a total lack of understanding and a deep belief in cultural incompat – ibility appears to be the reason for Khan disowning his son nazir as soon as his homosexual tendencies are in the open. Although the presentation of the harass- ing characters in the style of a carica – ture makes these situations appear either comic (in Bend It Like Beckham) or at least tragicomic (in East Is East), there can be no doubt that both films address, in this context, major examples of dis- crimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and, as such, tendencies to human rights violations that appear to be embedded considerably more in traditional Indianness than in British mentalities. nevertheless, Mrs. Paxton’s homophobia remains quite original, as contemporary British cinema tends to portray homosexuality as part of liberal Britain, and consequently, homophobic characteristics of British characters in cinema about migration are a rare ex- ception. Quite the opposite, the claims to British liberality are so strong that por – trayals of homosexuality in the British Indian diaspora usually appear as clear indications of integration into the host culture. In this sense, Chadha’s trans- fer of homophobia to Jules’s mother helps the viewer to recognize British pre-Enlightenment thinking, which is— according to Said and Hall—certainly neither what the contemporary “West” supposedly represents, nor what British colonialism ever wanted to be known for. 5 In any case, the backwardness of traditional migrant culture means that the “saviors” in films like Yasemin and Bend It Like Beckham tend to come from the host culture or its hemisphere. In the case of Yasemin, this is mirrored in the narrative structure of a traditional knight’s tale, in which contemporary German knight Jan has to rescue his beloved Turkish German girl on his modern horse (his motor bike) from the inhuman Turkish kidnappers who want to deport her to Turkey. On the other hand, Jess can rely on English Jules and then also on Joe, who repeatedly con- fronts Mr. Bhamra and facilitates Jess’s and Jules’s trip to the united States with which the film ends. In both contexts, the Western saviors reveal an enormous tolerance and good will in their fight against the “evil” of other cultures. Al- though Jan tries to learn Turkish with the help of a dictionary, although Yas- emin’s cousin Dursun does his very Downloaded by [University of Manitoba Libraries] at 10:23 29 July 2014 122 JPF&T—Journal of Popular Film and Television best to keep the German at a distance, Joe demonstrates full understanding for Jess’s family, even after Mr. Bhamra’s repeated rejections of their football ac- tivities and his blunt refusal of intercul – tural dialogue. Instead of openly criti – cizing the Other’s self-enclosure, Joe outlines to Jess: “You are lucky to have a family that cares so much about you.” In other words, the monocultural “is- land concept” of first generation British Indian characters is met by seemingly neverending transcultural openness from British characters, which renders obsolete the multicultural option of sep- aratist coexistence proposed by Jess’s parents as well as George Khan. It is here where films like Ken Loach’s Ae fond kiss try to fill a gap in British cinema about migration. In con- trast to most other productions, the film highlights the extremely monocultural vision of conservative Irish Catholi – cism via the mise-en-scène of an Irish priest (Father David) who cannot accept roisin’s affair with Casim, a Pakistani Muslim. Marriage would, in theory, be acceptable, but only if the Muslim con- verts to Catholicism, and the particular problem for the young couple is that roisin’s job as a teacher in a Catho- lic school depends on Father David’s good will to sign a document of good conduct. Confronted with the choice of either excluding the Muslim Other or forcing him to fully embrace Irish Catholicism (rather than accepting him with his different beliefs), roisin dis- obeys Father David’s wishes and loses her job. unfortunately, there are not many British films that dare to present such a monocultural vision from the British side as a significant obstacle for interethnic relations. With its internal – ized Orientalism, Bend It Like Beckham prolongs a more traditional Othering, for which Tevfik Baser’s films could be referenced, but also—in a more humor – ous way—My Big Fat Greek Wedding (dir. Joel Zwick), a film that is in many ways reminiscent of Chadha’s interna – tional breakthrough, as she herself ad- mits (Fischer). Despite extremely promising start- ing points, Jess embarks (comparable to Turkish German Yasemin) on a quest for Western-style transculturality that reduces most of her cultural heritage to a stagnant, outdated, and problematic Other that has to be perceived as an ob- stacle for the coming of age of young British Indian people today. The solu- tion proposed is for the Oriental Other to finally adapt to modern times, for his or her own sake and for everybody’s well-being, which implies that the happy ending depends on the assimila – tion of Anglo-American cultural traits by all the main characters. With this view, the film does not enhance negotia – tions of new identities in-between South Asian cultural heritage and Britishness, which most secondary sources regard as Jess’s key achievement. Instead of the sociocritical potential of hybrid- ity as portrayed in Kureishi and Frears productions like Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, Bend It Like Beckham supports individual assimilation into grotesque notions of Anglo-American transcultur – ality that ritzer and Kien nghi Ha have sufficiently criticized for its neocolonial dimension. All this implies some shift- ing of traditional cultural boundaries but little blurring of them. ACKNOWLEDGMENT This article forms part of a larger research project and summarizes key ideas from Guido rings, “The West—A Transcultural Home for the rest? Images of British-Indian Diaspora in Gurinder Chadha’s Bend It Like Beckham,” in Anglistik. International Jour – nal of English Studies 22.1 (2010): 167–86. NOTES 1. Malik describes East Is East as “‘some- where between the style of a northern ‘kitchen sink’ 1960s drama, a 1970s slap- stick farce, and a modern social realist inter – rogation into identity, belonging and British- ness” (“Money” 96). 2. This is a traditional dress consisting of trousers and a long tunic with a scarf that can be placed over the shoulder or over the head. See Algeo 136. 3. There are only very few exceptions to that pattern, such as in udayan Prasad’s My Son the Fanatic (1997), in which the genera- tional conflict is reversed. 4. The latter is the case with Joe, who is at first skeptical of Jess’s talent, which seems to correlate with the fact that he has “never seen South Asian women playing football.” However, he is immediately prepared to let her play and, once he recognizes her talent, has no problem in revising his prejudgment. 5. This links up directly to major inco- herencies in British and overall European colonialism: Key enlightenment norms guaranteed in the constitutions of the colo- nial center (in particular, individual rights concerning possessions, such as the right to vote presented as example of “liberté,” and the same rights before the law frequently subsumed as part of “egalité”) were not ex- tended to the vast majority of colonized sub- jects, but nevertheless, the colonizers wanted to be perceived as representatives of Euro- pean Enlightenment. WORKS CITED Algeo, Katie. “Teaching Cultural Geography with Bend It Like Beckham .” The Jour – nal of Geography 106.3 (2007): 133–43. Print. Antor, Heinz. Inter- und Transkulturelle Studien: Theoretische Grundlagen und in- terdisziplinäre Praxis. Anglistische Forsc- hungen 362. Heidelberg: Winter, 2006. Print. Bhabha, Homi. The Location of Culture. new York: routledge, 1994. Print.. Chaudhury, Parama. “Bend It Like Beck- ham.” rev. of Bend It Like Beckham. Film Monthly 2003. Web. 15 July 2009. . Elley, Derek. “Bend It Like Beckham.” rev. of Bend It Like Beckham. Variety 386.7 (2002): 32. Print. Fischer, Paul. “Gurinder Chadha: Success at Last as Beckham Finally Hits uS.” Film Monthly 13 Mar. 2003. Web. 01/07/2009. < http://www.filmmonthly.com/Profiles/ Articles/GChadha/ GChadha.html>. Ha, Kien nghi. Hype um Hybridität. Kul- tureller Differenzkonsum und postmod- erne Verwertungstechniken im Spätkapi – talismus. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2005. Print. Hall, Stuart. “The West and the rest: Dis- course and Power.” Formations of Moder – nity: Understanding the Modern. Ed. Stu- art Hall and B. Gieben. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992. 275–320. Print. Herder, Johann Gottfried. Auch eine Phi- losophie der Geschichte zur Bildung der Menschheit . 1774. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1967. Print. ———. Outlines of a Philosophy of the His- tory of Man. 1784–91. new York: Berg- man, 1966. Print. With its internalized Orientalism, Bend It Like Beckham prolongs a more traditional Othering . . . Downloaded by [University of Manitoba Libraries] at 10:23 29 July 2014 Questions of Identity 123 Hofstede, Geert. Culture’s Consequences. 2nd ed. London: Sage, 2001. Print. Huggan, Graham. “Derailing the ‘Trans’? Postcolonial Studies and the negative Ef- fects of Speed.” Antor 55–61. Malik, Sarita. “Beyond the “Cinema of Duty”? The Pleasures of Hybridity: Black British Film of the 1980s and 1990s.” Dissolving Views: Key Writings on Brit- ish Cinema. Ed. Andrew Higson. London: Cassell, 1996. 202–15. Print. ———. “Money, McPherson and Mindset: The Competing Cultural and Commer – cial Demands on Black and Asian British films in the 1990s.” Journal of Popular British Cinema 5 (2002): 90–103. Print. raschke, Jessica. “Juggling Cultures in Bend It Like Beckham.” Australian Screen Edu- cation 1 Jan. 2004: 123–26. Print. rings, Guido. “The West—A Transcultural Home for the rest? Images of British-In- dian Diaspora in Gurinder Chadha’s Bend It Like Beckham. ” Anglistik. International Journal of English Studies 22.1 (2010): 167–86. Print. ritzer, George. The McDonaldization of So- ciety . 5th ed. London: Sage, 2008. Print. Said, Edward. Orientalism: Western Con- ceptions of the Orient. London: Penguin, 1995 . Print. Sandhu, Sharon. Are We Bending It like Beckham? Diasporic Second-Generation South Asian Canadian Women in Sport. MA thesis, York university, Toronto, 2005. Ann Arbor: Proquest. Print. siliconindia. “Bend It Like Beckham.” sili- conindia, May 2003: 15. Print. Valdés, María Elena de. The Shattered Mir- ror: Representations of Women in Mexi- can Literature. Austin: u of Texas P, 1998. Print. Weaver-Hightower, rebecca. “Cast Away and Survivor: The Surviving Castaway and the rebirth of Empire.” The Journal of Popular Culture 39.2 (2006): 294–317. Print. FILMOGRAphy Allen, Stuart, ronnie Baxter, Anthony Parker, Harry Driver, and Vince Powell. Love Thy Neighbour. Thames Television for ITV, 1972–76. uK. Bohm, Hark. Yasemin. Hamburger Kino Kompanie/ZDF, 1988. Germany. Chadha, Gurindher. Acting Our Age. umbi Films, 1991. uK. Chadha, Gurindher. Angus, Thongs and Per – fect Snogging. Goldcrest Pictures, 2008. uSA. Chadha, Gurindher. Bend It Like Beckham . Kin- top Pictures, 2002. uK, Germany, uSA. Chadha, Gurindher. Bhaji on the Beach. Chan- nel Four Films/ umbi Films, 1993. uK. Chadha, Gurindher. Bride and Prejudice. Pathé Pictures International, 2004. uK, uSA. Chadha, Gurindher. I’m British but. . . . Channel Four, 1989. uK. Chadha, Gurindher. Nice Arrangement. umbi Films, 1990. uK. Faucon, Philippe. Samia. Canal+, 2000. France. Jamal, Ahmed A. Majdhar. retake Film, 1983. uK. Loach, Ken. Ae fond kiss. Bianca Film, 2004. Great Britain, Belgium, German, Italy, Spain. O’Donnell, Damien. East Is East. FilmFour, 1999. Great Britain. Prasad, udayan. My Son the Fanatic . Arts Council of England, 1997. uK, France. Smith, Peter K. A Private Enterprise. BFI, 1974. uK. Zwick, Joel. My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Gold Circle Films, 2002. uSA, Canada. Guido rings is professor of postcolonial studies and pathway leader for the MA in in- tercultural communication at Anglia ruskin university in Cambridge. He is also direc- tor of the research unit for Intercultural and Transcultural Studies (ruITs), and coedi- tor of German as a Foreign Language, the first Internet journal in Europe for this field. rings has widely published within different areas of postcolonial studies as well as Euro- pean film and cultural studies. This includes the authored books The Conquest Upside Down ‘La Conquista desbaratada’ (2010), Conquered Conquerors ‘Eroberte Eroberer’ (2005), Narrating against the Tide ‘Erzählen gegen den Strich’ (1996), and the BBC-Ger- man Grammar (with r. Tenberg; 2005). He has also edited the dossier “The Other Side of Migration” ‘La otra cara de la migración’ for Iberoamericana (vol. 34, 2009), coed- ited the volumes Neo-colonial Mentalities in Contemporary Europe (with A. Ife; 2008), Worlds of Images, Worlds of Texts, Worlds of Comics ‘Bilderwelten, Textwelten, Com- icwelten ’ (with F. Leinen; 2007), and Euro- pean Cinema: Inside Out (with r. Morgan- Tamosunas; 2003), and he is the author of more than thirty refereed articles.Downloaded by [University of Manitoba Libraries] at 10:23 29 July 2014
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