Queer Theory (An Article Critique)
The article written by Gayatri Gopinath examines the circumstances behind Bollywood’s fame despite the government’s “curious and contradictory processes” and, even as the government imposed indefinite detentions and deportations of Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians “continued unabated. Gopinath was surprised that at the time when South Asian communities in the United States are intensely surveilled, policed, and terrorized by the government, the glamour and popularity Bollywood cinema swelled to great extent. Here, Gopinath argued that one reason why Bollywood (Indian global cinema) was because this primarily targeting British Asians cinema, was transformed to become a show intended for the predominantly white in the West, focusing on the “hyper visibility and fetishization of South Asian women’s bodies framed as infinitely available to a heterosexual white Western gaze” (161). In general Gopinath’s article was a critique on the US government’s “racialized” move to protect citizen’s liberty in view of the 9/11 incident.
What is the author’s primary argument?
The author’s primary argument in the article was about the US government ‘racialized’ and gender protective measure in view of the 9/11 terrorist attacked. The author simply used the case of Bollywood ,a booming South Asian films to argue that about the transformation of the image of South Asian women which has become a an object of white men’s pleasure in the West. Gopinath cited that the Bollywood boom “incorporates South Asian populations in the United States national imaginary as pure spectacle to be safely consumed while keeping intact their essential alieness and difference…” (162). Thus, in a sense the author’s main argument was about the transformation of Bollywood to become a global cinema that serves to please its white patrons at the expense of the South Asian’s women’s bodies who were the main attraction to their predominantly white men audiences.
How is this argument supported?
The argument is supported using the analysis of the US government policies on “war on terror” which drove South Asian men and those Muslims and Arabs to detention and deportation. The Author cited the striking contrast in the attitudes of the government towards South Asian and Women in which, the author also noted that while the authorities are working swiftly to banish men, the Bollywood cinema which exploit women’s bodies to serve as an attraction for their audiences was booming.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of this work?
The strength of this work is that it clearly distinguishes the attitudes between South Asian men who were subjected to effacement in view of the 9/11 attacked and the South Asian women who are serving for the pleasure of their audiences which even included the delegate to the 2004 Republican National Convention. The author remarked, “It seemed particularly ironic to me that the delegates occupied themselves inside Madison Square Garden with xenophobic calls for a never ending war on terror while they diverted themselves outside the Garden with a brief foray into Bollywood Glamour” (157).
The weakness of the article on the other hand is that the author’s ideas was quite limited and focused only on South Asian men and women. But this precisely because the issue espoused by the author concerns about South Asian establishment, however, since the author was talking about feminist issues, and racial discrimination in view of the government policy on the war on terror, it could have been stronger if the author cited other feminist issues and out side of the South Asian women’s experience.
What would you compare and contrast the readings in terms of argument, evidence and method?
The author’s argument could be compared and contrasted with Mary Wollstonecraft’s feminist philosophy wherein she denounced the views on women’s education of her time as designed entirely to make them pleasing to men. Both Wollstonecraft and Gopinath see the current views on women during their respective days as serving to men’s pleasure. Evidence of the text particularly the effacement of South Asian men and Arabs and Muslim men leaving only women as ornament to white men in the West can be compared to the evidence which Wollstonecraft’s had seen which relegated women as ornament and playthings of men. Both authors had seen that women were viewed by men as ornaments that afford them with pleasure.
Finally, the method used by the author could be compared also to Wollstonecraft’s method of expressing her feminist views. Both Wollstonecraft and Gopinath criticized the existing context by which women were viewed by men, in terms the existing reality.
Gopinath, Gayatri. “Queer Diasporic Critique in the Aftermath of 9/11.” Social Text 23. 3-4 (2005): 84-85.