I checked my Facebook the other night and found my newsfeed more or less hijacked with some 450 Facebook friends singing praises of Veena Malik. One friend wrote: “Veena Malik, you’re my hero. That mullah deserved every word that you said to his face. They’re nothing but a bunch of hypocrites!”
This led me to watch Kamran Shahid’s show, “Frontline”, on which Ms Malik appeared and had a confrontation with a cleric by the name of Mufti Qavi. I thought that to put the actress next to a maulana was nothing but an attempt to get high ratings. After all, this is what people would watch, but this is yet another example of our media exploiting the current polarisation in Pakistani society. The mullah-bashing that Ms Malik indulged in on the show made me think that perhaps it is okay to bash people in Pakistan if they are bearded.
Having said that, Veena Malik deserves credit for pinpointing the problems within the clergy of Pakistan, but her behaviour on the show is proof that Pakistanis find it very convenient to take extreme sides and see everything in black and white.
Then there is the question of whether she is really the face of Pakistan. For instance, blogger Faisal Kapadia put it well when he said: “Without questioning her morals, let’s not make her the face of Pakistan; four layers deep in foundation and gyrating to “Sheila ki Jawani” in the most vulgar way possible. This isn’t our face, no matter what the bleeding heart liberals defending her will say.”
I would say that the actress’s only self-defence lies in her belief that there is no ‘dress code’ in the Pakistani entertainment industry, and that she was representing herself on “Bigg Boss” as an entertainer. Even this, however, seemed to be an ostensibly weak argument.
On the said show, she tried to justify wearing “shorts” but not a “two-piece” (the reference obviously being to a swimsuit) while in India. However, where do Pakistani actresses draw the line on this — as in why say ok to wearing shorts but not to a ‘two-piece’?
As for the electronic media, it is unfortunate that some of our TV anchors think it a selling point to openly question the morals of their guests. Enough with the finger-pointing already, since this only deepens a clash of opinions/views and does nothing about generating a collective rational response to a pressing problem.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2011.
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