When Netflix, the gold standard of today’s popular culture, started making original content in India, three of their very first productions were Sacred Games, Ghoul and Leila. Made with typical Netflix sleek production values, top actors and lots of investment, there was also a common theme in all – a totalitarian or post-apocalyptic India, masterminded or caused by Hindus. A society, where belonging to the wrong religion or holding the wrong thoughts gets you in trouble, often fatal. From Hindu Baba planning a nuclear holocaust to the state officially persecuting Muslims, implementing caste purity and official misogyny. The works.
Of course, it’s only fiction, and we need to take it as such. Now let’s make fiction movies showing how mother nature is destroying the human lifestyle through sheer recklessness and greed?
Enough about fiction though. Let’s talk reality. From the mainstreaming of Hindu Holocaust deniers like Audrey Truschke, media’s complete whitewash of Bengal anti-Hindu post-poll violence, opposition’s claims of questioning election process when results go against them, Congress party lying and blaming BJP of losing land to China, and all of this going completely unchallenged by the arbiters of truth – Social Media giants and fact-checkers – it seems the fears of Netflix have already come true. We are living in an era, where belonging to the wrong religion or having the wrong thoughts can get you in trouble, often fatal.
Except this dystopia is not Hindu, it is Woke.
Even in conservative Japan that has stuck to its cultural idiosyncrasies with zeal, Olympic officials are getting cancelled because they made a joke three decades ago or bullied someone in school. Social media giants are suspending accounts if a non-Muslim quotes the Quran. People are getting kicked out of professional groups for wishing on a Hindu festival because only Christmas is secular. Demanding Jhatka meat is communal but normalising Halal meat is inclusive. United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has pro-religion commissioners from all religions except Hinduism. Not ONE feminist or minority rights advocate feels the need to say a word about the daily abductions and rapes of underage minority girls in Pakistan. None of this is Hindu dystopia, but dystopian it is.
Sigmund Freud defined it as “a defence mechanism in which the ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves and attributing them to others”. In simple words, we accuse others of what we ourselves are. While this is an impulse at an individual level, it has been exploited by expansionist ideologies like the Nazis and Communists in the past as part of their propaganda machinery. Unfortunately, what we see in pop media like Netflix and Amazon today looks more and more like such offensive propaganda. Of course, this is not a new phenomenon. Bollywood’s use of various propaganda techniques has been well documented.
Are there real victims? Not if you read Buzzfeed for news. Nobody was raped or murdered in Bengal, underage Hindu girls are not getting abducted and raped (statutory and otherwise) in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and people are not facing discrimination only for being practising Hindu. Except all of this is happening with real victims and real crimes. And in my view, the ethical aspects of a crime are more serious than the material aspects of it. A whole culture is dedicated to perpetrating this ethical crime today, spearheaded by woke media such as Netflix, Buzzfeed and countless others.
How can we arrest this slide into dystopia?
We can certainly stop funding those who provide it intellectual cover. Once you are aware, you will start noticing certain repetitive themes in the media we consume. Stop funding such media. Also start funding media that speak up against such propaganda. In our real lives, speak up where you can. Ask your political representatives to take note. Do what you can.
The victims are real. Doing nothing is not an option.