[thechat] Flaws in Cultures

Syed Zeeshan Haider szh at softhome.net
Wed Sep 25 14:28:00 CDT 2002

From: "Erika Meyer"
To: <thechat at lists.evolt.org>
Sent: September 25, 2002, Wednesday 4:42 AM
Subject: re: [thechat] Flaws in Cultures

> Moshing.  It can be fun!   A nice cathartic release of emotion.

Personally, just moshing without any rhythm in movement creates a bad feeling
inside me. I have seen Michael Jackson dancing once or twice. He is simply a
great dancer. His dance just grips the viewer not because its American but
because its art, a great form of art. We have such singer in Pakistan; his name
is Fakhar-e-Alam. He cannot dance like Michael Jackson but he has also created
such a rhythm in his dance that he has fascinated many new comers but no one
could compete him because of their reluctance from getting training.

> Imposed by whom?  The music industry?  Or Pakistani teenagers?
> I do not think it was the US government, they don't get it either.

USA media was behind it in a way. Most of early Pakistani pop singers belonged
to very rich families and were educated in completely western environment and
some of them were educated in USA and Europe also. They were highly influenced
by USA culture and they were imposing it by their songs. Shehzad Roy is one of
the prominent pop singers. In his early days he included heavy guitars and drums
in his songs. He shot many of his song videos in USA. Now when asked about his
early days, he laughs and says, "If that Shehzad comes in front of me I'll
punish him for such music". He still uses guitars and drums but with a
fascinating rhythmic style along with local musical instruments like bamboo
flute, tabla, dhole, sitaar, saarangi etc.
There are many famous jokes about such music here in Pakistan. Following is one
of them:
A teenager was moshing on rock n roll music. His father was not interested and
was reading newspaper beside him. The boy asked his father, "Have you ever heard
such music before".
"No, my son" father replied, "But I heard similar noise when two trucks collided
with each other. One of them contained the empty drums of milk and other
contained buffalos and cows".

> You ever heard Kat Bjelland scream?  Her voice could flatten a cow
> from half a mile.

I would like to listen this scream.

> Due to lack of popularity or government crackdown?

Government never cracked down them. Pop singers soon felt that they had to
change or leave the stage. People had begun to critisize them with very strong

> There should be room for all kinds of music, I think.  People
> like it or they don't, but give people the creative freedom to
> express themselves in art I say.

Creativity cannot exist without money. When a singer loses popularity he begins
to just waste his money on songs' recordings and videos. Naturally only popular
singers survive. The room is always there but popularity decides about its

> Syed I understand what you are saying about wanting to celebrate your
> own culture and not take on foreign values that are not appropriate.
> That is right, I think, as long as it comes from the people not
> imposed by a government on the people.

It's very interesting that in Pakistan, government directly affects people's
taste. However, it always has been unintentional. When Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was
Prime Minister, long hair and larger sleeves became popular because Bhutto liked
this style and always appeared in media in this style. People were fascinated by
his style and tried to adopt it. Nawaz Sharif likes Shalwar Qameez (Pakistan's
national dress) and he never wears pants or three-piece suit. When he was in
power, different new fashions of Shalwar Qameez were created and a famous pop
singer Junaid Jamshed (who always liked pants) started a boutique of Shalwar
Qameez. Now Pervez Musharraf likes pants and they are again in fashion.
But there is no compromise on social and religious matters. Pervez Musharraf is
personally very westernised man. He spent most of his childhood in Turkey where
his father worked as an ambassador of Pakistan. Musharraf is not a very
religious man. When he came in power we felt many changes on television, a very
popular and effective media. Violent dances of women became very often on TV.
Ads of ladies' pads (which are used during menstruation, I don't know what is
popular term for them in English) began to go on-air. Family Planning Products'
ads became very clear and transparent so that children began to ask their
parents about them. Consequently, Musharraf received thousands of written
complaints against these changes. These are not socially and religiously
accepted on media at any conditions in Pakistan. Musharraf tried to convince
people but in vain. At the end he had to ban violent female dances and
unaccepted ads. From this its clear that government cannot impose its own form
of culture in Pakistan.

> Cultures do bleed and mix, nothing stops that... and American has
> such a strong media presence it's hard to stop it from influencing
> other cultures.

One cannot completely adopt another culture in all of its manifestations. Every
culture has some good and some bad things. One must try to adopt good things and
restrain from bad things.

> People do look a bit silly when they imitate another culture for
> which they have no understanding... but when they simply love the
> music, and they put their own hearts into it (or language, or
> whatever) it becomes something different and new and real.

I don't like Michael Jackson, instead I love him. But I won't like Pakistani
singers to entirely adopt his style. MJ got his own style and Pakistanis got
their own. They can experiment with little variations but entire adoption makes
this art boring. Single style everywhere is simply boring.

> And even within the same culture, there is a huge variety of tastes.

That's right

> Also, never forget that what you see of America as portrayed by
> American media and industry is not really what is going on in the
> shadows and in the streets of America.

If you are talking about action movies then any sensible man cannot believe
them. They are just for entertainment which they really provide. Let's take the
example of WTC. In many movies they are shown broken by terrorists but nothing
happened to the world in the movies. But the reality is far more bitter. Now we
don't know where are we going? If there will be a happy ending or a sad one?

> What's really going on is a
> lot less slick, less arrogant, and much more exciting.

When I was a young boy, I used to think about visiting entire USA as a tourist.
But after WTC events, I would prefer to live in Pakistan. I'll always feel
myself insecure in USA being a Pakistani and a Muslim. However, I still have an
ambition to visit USA as a tourist in a secure environment and sort out the
secrets behind its success as a nation. Now I am interested in observing all
manifestations of American culture. At the end I would like to come back to
Pakistan. Being a patriotic man, I cannot leave Pakistan.
My thoughts about insecure USA for Muslims is because of news media. Specially,

Syed Zeeshan Haider.

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