Friday, January 3, 2014

Mathira Yet Again

Can a 12-year-old girl dance with Fawad Khan and sing about being together?

Disturbing is the word in your mind as Mathira does lunges and Arbaz Khan talks about stalking her in her 'gaaon'. PHOTO: MATHIRA FACEBOOK PAGE http://www.facebook.com/MathiraWorld
Step aside, Pitbull. There’s a brand new way to be inappropriately close to women way out of your league! 
It is a lesson not just for Pakistanis but for all humanity, for all men and children who are aiming to be men. Arbaz Khan, the pre-teen pre-pubescent boy, whose baby fat is still probably lodged in places that only the next five years can remove, shakes his groove with a woman old enough to be his mother.
My eyes widen as does Mathira’s cleavage.
My throat constricts as Mathira belts out one tuneless note after another. Not that I am against sex-positive feminism or against ladies singing their hearts out, but this is all too reminiscent of a Shakespearean tragedy or a Greek play filled with inappropriate gesticulating, mediocre lyrics and substandard budgeting.
Sex sells and Mathira is game, sure.
But that definitely does not mean that she gets to dance with, what anyone with an IQ of 70 can label as, a child and call it ‘entertainment’.
In most countries, this could be considered child abuse, or definitely in a dangerously grey area. Whether I was on a Parent’s Television Council or the Grammy nomination panel, I would still cringe – out of distaste at someone’s poor attempt to sell something that was just average by using Mathira’s ‘assets’.
When Aaron Carter and Justin Beiber sang about love’s labours, they at least chose someone their own size. Arbaz – with all his spiked glories – cannot reach anywhere beyond Mathira’s shoulders.
I wonder if Arbaz Khan’s parents are listening or if parents of other equally hormonal, financially stable teenagers (with enough in their piggy banks to finance an SLR, a digital animator and a fancy laptop) are staying up at night thinking of all the requests their sons will be making after watching this video, requests like:
“But, mommy, why can’t I dance with my friend’s mom? If Arbaz Khan can, why can’t I?”
There is a reason why this is termed inappropriate for a 12-year-old child. Psychologically and neurologically, the human body is still under the process of development throughout adolescence. The hormonal and physiological changes in children when they reach puberty are the reason why sex education is such a sensitive and challenging subject for educators.
But forget all of that, Pakistanis have an all-novel approach to all of this.
Let’s bring out the luxury sedans and the seductive model to teach children all about sexually appropriate behaviour!
What does this say about Pakistani parenting?
Does it say that either we send our kids to madrassahs to become self-righteous I-know-it-all Muslims or we send them after women to sing and dance with them whether or not it is appropriate?
Does it say we are of two minds when it comes to raising our kids or does it say we’ll just do anything to create waves, make a buck and even a small hit on DailyMotion or a ‘Like’ on Facebook – is this the price of our soul?
Not only is all of this a cheap attempt at publicity – and that is putting it mildly – it is also sexist.
How is it that an older woman is praised for her sexual appeal by a 12-year-old boy?
Would we not consider it extremely inappropriate if a twelve-year-old girl told Fawad Khan she would follow him to his gaaon (village) and if they were singing and dancing about being together forever?
Disturbing is the word that comes to mind.
And disturbing is the word that plays in your mind in big capital letters, as Mathira continues to stroke her neck, does strange lunges and Arbaz Khan continues to talk about plans of stalking her to her gaaon, about loving everything about her from head-to-toe and about how they make a wonderful couple together. 
“Tu saath mere achi lagay, jagg saara ye jaanta!”
(You look good with me, the whole world knows.)
Sorry, kid, but the world is thinking the exact opposite.
The world thinks you should maybe give it another ten years before you try your hand at chasing someone to their gaaon. We admire your confidence and your rapping skills but for the love of God and all that is pure and holy, let the chest hair come and the moustache follow! Until then, stick to singing about bad grades, curly hair, puppy fat and how Daddy won’t let you stay up past eleven.
There are plenty of class acts in town that were a hit and they have not used a semi-nude girl. Some examples that come to mind are Osman Khalid Butt, Ali Gulpir, Danish Ali, and Muhammad Ali.
They are funny, quirky and they have got that loyalty to the Pakistani culture going for them. The audiences love them because they resonate with them.
Instead of imitating an art form to a T, they took the art form, converted it into something personal, added the flavour of their own identity and produced something entirely original – something that made waves just because it was original, intelligent and culturally relevant.
Twenty years from now, I will be able to show these videos to my kid and tell him without embarrassment that this is the kind of stuff his parents watched when they were surfing on the internet.
Twenty years from now, I hope I won’t have to explain how the hordes of ‘Arbaz Khans’ took over our generation and turned our children into adults with no sense of self, identity and originality.

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