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Movie Mom

Is ‘The Love Guru’ offensive or funny or both?

posted by Nell Minow

Mike Myers’ new comedy “The Love Guru,” which opens on Friday, has already led to complaints from members of the Hindu community for “lampooning Hinduism and Hindus and using Hindu terms frivolously.” Beliefnet has invited Hindu leaders, publications and groups, including Hindu Janajagruti Samiti to explain their feelings about the movie.
Poking fun is one thing, but if it creates a sense of belittling others’ faith, then it is wrong. Those who claim such protest movements as marring the tolerant spirit of Hinduism seem to be ignorant about the basic tradition of Hinduism that encourages peaceful debates, won on their intellectual merit.
More information about the concerns of this community and their protests are available online.

Deepak Chopra
, who appears in the movie and whose friendship with Mike Myers inspired the film, says:
As viewers will find out when the movie is released this summer, no one is more thoroughly skewered in it than I am–you could even say that I am made to seem preposterous. If I don’t take offense and some Hindus do, that doesn’t make me superior or more mature or even innately tolerant. I just know the difference between a belly laugh and a diatribe.love guru.jpg
If “The Love Guru” were a sermon delivered in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, comedy would turn into religious propaganda. The premature outcry against the movie is itself religious propaganda. Worse than that, the protestors expose the insecurity of Hindus who don’t believe that their faith can stand on its own…Silliness often has wisdom hidden just beneath the surface–perhaps “The Love Guru” will, also, since Myers laced his Austin Powers farce with a message about tolerance–but if you can’t accept silliness in the first place, you are likely to be immune to wisdom, too.
The deeper irony is that the phrase “Hindu fundamentalism” is a paradox to begin with. The more purely you follow Hinduism, the more you tolerate differences, because God is seen everywhere.
People who want to learn more or express their own views can do so in this discussion group.

  • jestrfyl

    Pre-mature complaints by any religious group are often more annoying than helpful. If they have not seen the film their complaints are hollow, shallow, and serve only to promote the very movie they would protest. Though I am no great fan of Mr Chopra, that he would not only condone the film, but even appear in it speaks far more to me than do the complaints. In fact, I may see it (in our $2 theater in a few weeks)simply because of Mr. Chpra’s relationship to it. There is no greater source of credibility than allowing and participating in jokes at your own expense.

  • A. Nonymous

    I found some of Mike Myers comedy in other movies offensive. Just too many toilet jokes for my taste.
    But, sure, he is absolutely an extremely talented comedian.
    The problem, as I see it, is that stereotypes of Indians seem the norm in our culture.
    When Bruce Lee started fighting against racism against Chinese people and Asians generally, he was able to bring to the American consciousness a respect for martial arts. And through that respect for martial arts, he was able to bring a respect for Oriental culture.
    Before that, the kind of attitude that Americans often had towards Chinese people was often extremely derogatory and ignorant.
    I don’t think America is as advanced in respecting Indians, as it is with the Chinese. I don’t think that there has been established an underlying respect for the culture and for Hinduism.
    I think most people in America still think of Yoga and Hinduism as one big joke. And that, I perceive, is the problem. That the movie exists in a climate which is predisposed to mocking a very serious people and culture. And, to that extent, I think it would indeed serve to perpetuate stereotypes about Indians.
    We also have to remember that a number of Sikhs were savagely beaten in racist attacks after 911 and that not everyone is sophisticated enough to truly discriminate between Arabs and Indians and the like.
    I think that if Mike Myers and the producers just held a few press conferences, expressing that the movie is just a comedy and that they don’t condone racist views of Indians…it would go a long way to keeping the peace.
    Bollywood makes fun of false gurus…but it does it with an underlying respect of the culture and the history. That is not established here yet.
    Everything is just a joke, until it is a joke about you and your culture. Then, it becomes a concern.
    If folks think that after seeing this movie, some 16 year olds are not going to be inspired to shout out something disgusting at a Sikh, they are quite mistaken. This movie will definitely take a kid or two over the edge. Is that funny?

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