Friday, October 4, 2019

Good news of the day

Melinda Gates is committing $1 billion to promote gender equality over the next ten years. The aim: “expanding women’s power and influence in the United States.” Sure, it doesn’t do much for women closer to home, but her powerful statement explaining her decision is a must read (and food for thought for the rest of us). In other very good news: It’s Navratri!!! And we’re taking the next couple of days to practice our dandiya. So we’ll see you bright and early on Wednesday morning! Try not to miss us too much 😉 Wishing you all a very happy and colourful Navratri!

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The heated debate over the politics of ‘Joker’

The movie finally hit theatres around the world this week, but is already one of the most loathed and admired movies of the year. Among those most uncomfortable with its message: a lot of women and anti-violence activists.  

First, a bit about the movie: Directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix, the film focuses on the origin story of Joker—the arch-nemesis of Batman. Arthur Fleck is a professional clown and aspiring stand-up comedian—a deeply unlikable loner who still lives with his mother. A classic loser, he gets beaten up by everybody and rejected by those whose approval he seeks most—his audience and a woman he is obsessed with. And his loneliness turns into psychotic rage as he finds a cure for rejection in violence—which makes him feel powerful and in control. 

Ok, so what’s the problem? Numerous critics say that the movie justifies and even encourages violence—especially the actions of many men who have gone on shooting sprees for reasons identical to the Joker. See: pretty much any mass shooting incident in the US. The assailants in many of these cases were entitled white men—or schoolkids—angry at the world for rejecting them. In terms of its gender politics, some people are calling it “an incel training manual.”

Wait, what does ‘incel’ mean? It stands for ‘involuntary celibates’—a term adopted by hordes of rage-driven men who infest online forums like 4Chan. Targets of their rage include Stacys (attractive women who won’t have sex with them); Chads (attractive men who get plenty of sex); and Normies (people who can find partners but aren’t necessarily attractive). As The Guardian sums it up: “Basically, incels cannot get laid and they violently loathe anyone who can.”

They sound pathetic: Yes, but they can also be very dangerous. For example, in 2014, Elliot Rodger went on a shooting spree near a California university campus killing six people. His manifesto declared: "You girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it… I'll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one." In Canada, another such ‘incel’ drove his van on to a pavement killing ten people. 

And the ‘Joker’ justifies all this? Concerned parents—including those who have lost kids in school shootings—certainly think so: “My worry is that one person who may be out there—and who knows if it is just one—who is on the edge, who is wanting to be a mass shooter, may be encouraged by this movie. And that terrifies me.” Others, like Vanity Fair’s film critic write, “[T]hose angry loners—the ones who shoot up schools and concerts and churches, who gun down the women and men they covet and envy, who let loose some spirit of anarchic animus upon the world—there’s almost a woebegone mythos placed on them in the search for answers.” And that mythologising can be extremely alluring to angry white men in the audience.

What do the creators say? Director Todd Phillips slammed liberal critics, saying “I think it’s because outrage is a commodity… What’s outstanding to me in this discourse in this movie is how easily the far left can sound like the far right when it suits their agenda.” Joaquin Phoenix walked out of an interview when he was asked about the movie’s message. He later said: “I don’t think it’s the filmmaker’s responsibility to teach morality. And if you don’t know the difference between right and wrong, then there’s all sorts of things that you are going to interpret in the way that you want.”

Okaaay, so is it worth watching? Hey, the movie got a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival—and walked away with its top award. Most reviews have been glowing and it has an audience rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. So it may be a good idea to first watch the movie before any of us make up our mind. 

Learn more: Here’s more reporting on the movie:

  • Read positive reviews of the film in The Digital Spy, Toronto Star and Rolling Stone—most of which focus on Phoenix’s stellar acting. 

  • Critics over at The Guardian, New York Times and Time offer the harshest verdicts. Syfy offers a more fun take that argues the movie gets Joker totally wrong. 

  • Vox has a balanced and far more detailed explainer on the controversy. 

  • The Guardian also has an excellent piece on ‘incel’ culture and why it is dangerous. 

  • Washington Post via NDTV offers a definitive ranking of the on-screen Jokers, from Jack Nicholson to Joaquin Phoenix. 

  • National Post rounds up the defence offered by the movie’s creators in various interviews.

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gearing to party like it’s Navratri

Your Donald Trump update is here: His always eventful days included a White House press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö—who went viral with this ‘please don’t touch me’ moment with Trump. The president also had a bizarre and comical meltdown when he was asked a simple question by a Reuters reporter (watch it here). His latest very clever move: committing potentially impeachable offenses on camera. Accused of asking the Ukrainian president to investigate his political rival Joe Biden, Trump publicly declared, “China should start an investigation into the Bidens.” As Associated Press notes, this is a time-tested Donald tactic: “pushing questionable secret conversations into the open, helping to inoculate him against charges that he is engaged in nefarious action, cover-ups or obstruction of justice.” Hapless bystander in this absurd and ugly drama: Sinisto’s adorable dog. (Associated Press)


EU issues controversial Facebook ruling: The social media company will now have to find and take down content deemed ‘illegal’ by any of its member companies. The problem: “This would set a dangerous precedent where the courts of one country can control what Internet users in another country can see. This could be open to abuse, particularly by regimes with weak human rights records.” (The Telegraph)

Insta’s got itself brand new ‘Threads’: That’s the name of its new direct messaging app that allows you to send videos and images to your close friends all day long! It’s a total rip-off of Snapchat whose shares tumbled yesterday. Oops! Buzzfeed has more details on how the app works.

Your Navratri goodies include: the tallest Ravana effigy in India and Akshay Kumar’s new look as a nine-yard wearing Laxmmi—his character in an upcoming flick where he plays a man possessed by a transgendered person’s ghost. Too good!

A new clue about vaping pens: Last week, health authorities in the US pointed their finger at THC—an ingredient in marijuana—as the cause of the mysterious respiratory illness triggered by vaping. Now Mayo Clinic researchers say the lung damage is similar to a chemical burn: "It seems to be some kind of direct chemical injury, similar to what one might see with exposures to toxic chemical fumes, poisonous gases and toxic agents”—and it’s unlike anything one might see in a normal tobacco or marijuana smoker. (CNN)

A Nobel for Greta Thunberg? While there’s no confirmation, that’s what the bookies are overwhelmingly betting on these days. Also: there will be two prizes awarded for literature this year. The reason: no award was given in 2018 due to a giant power struggle involving rape charges against the spouse of one the Academy members. (Times of India)

Here’s what an India-Pakistan apocalypse: would look like. New research shows that a mutual nuclear strike between the two nations will kill anywhere between 50-125 million people in the immediate aftermath. But it will also trigger a global ‘nuclear winter’ that will cause worldwide starvation—and will last at least a decade. (Gizmodo)

The power of two little words called ‘Me Too’: This is a brilliant read on the phrase #MeToo and its impact in India—where it has created a shared language among some women but left many others out entirely. (Huffington Post)

What’s your ‘primal world belief’? That’s the term for your core beliefs about how the world is—scary, good, unstable, funny etc. According to a new study, there are 36 such beliefs which “vary from person to person, are automatic and deep-seated, and, like our personality traits, are stable over time.” And they play a huge role in how happy or unhappy we are. For example: If you believe the world is a good place, you actually have better relationships and a more fulfilling life than someone who does not. (Washington Post)

Robert De Niro had a Trump-sized meltdown: over the phone with a female employee. She’s now gone public with the voicemail recording—and heated allegations are being traded in the midst of legal battle. This ugly fight has everything from #MeToo allegations and Netflix binge-watching. (Daily Mail)

Uniqlo has landed: The wildly popular Japanese brand will open its first store in Delhi—which will soon be followed by two others in the city. There’s no news as yet on its plans to bless the rest of us with its presence. An ‘only in India’ Uniqlo special: ‘Kurta Collection', which consists of tunics, dresses, pants and stoles in colours like earthy combinations of charcoal, indigo, mustard and red.” (NDTV)

Have a pet? Live in Gurgaon? Well, you now need a license. And to get one, you have to get your pet neutered if s/he is more than four years old. (Times of India)

Don’t forget to listen to: Broadsheet subscriber Sheena Dabholkar who speaks to the hosts of Marbles Lost and Found about the importance of self-care. Sheena recently created a self-care and well-being education platform called Mindful and Body—and is the editor of LOVER magazine. Listen to the podcast episode here.

Your daily quota of sunshine items: includes the following: 

  • Canadian politician Jagmeet Singh’s graceful response when someone tells him to “cut your turban off.”

  • Stunning entries in the 2020 Sony World Photography Awards.

  • This alarming and amusing report on a Japanese restaurant ad that features a Ronald McDonald “with pecs, a six pack, and pubic hair made out of french fries.”

  • This awesome New York Times profile of a tiny Estonian island populated and run almost entirely by women. (thanks to our Ambassador Shadab Arab for passing it along)

  • This video report on Alibaba's keyless and cashless hotel 

  • This story (including aww-inducing video) on Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and his 100-year old superfan.

  • This Tamil Nadu tour guide wowing foreign tourists with his Bharat Natyam moves

  • This Indian villager and his goats doing Tik Tok correctly.

  • Question: why do the best animal-related clips involve two cats and a dog?

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Stuff we buy, use or love.

A List of Navratri dance-dance essentials
So you want to get your lehengas out to shake a dandiya or two on the dance floor? Well, we’ve got the must-haves covered for you.
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When you want to get your dance moves exactly right...

Check out these excellent YouTube tutorials. We waded through the vast number of videos to pick some solid guides for beginners. To ace the garba circle, we recommend well-known garba teacher Devesh Mirchandani’s 13-minute video. If you are planning to choreograph a garba routine with friends, then check out dance choreographer Phulwa Khamkar whose personality is almost as awesome as her easy-to-master dance moves. For absolute beginners like us, the Urban Fight guide for dandiya and garba guide for dummies is just perfect.

Watch: Learn Garba Dance Steps from Devesh Mirchandani | YouTube

Watch: Learn Easy Garba Dance Steps With Phulwa Khamkar | YouTube

Watch: Basic Dandiya and Garba Dance Moves for Beginners | YouTube


The informer 2

When you need that perfect  lehenga…

Check out Bunaai’s gorgeous collection made of high quality fabric and prints. The biggest upside of this online store out of Rajasthan: These aren’t chaniya cholis but an updated twist on the traditional lehengas. And you can wear them all year round—right into Diwali and the destination wedding season. For example: this number would be perfectly at home at a pool party. 

Price: Rs. 5000-10000 | Bunaai 

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When you want your makeup to last the entire night...

Make sure you’re wearing Pro Longwear Waterproof Foundation by MAC. It is our tried and tested sweat-proof choice. High energy aerobic exercise plays havoc with your foundation. And you don’t want to end the night looking a bit, umm, blotchy. This foundation is guaranteed to last about 12 hours (though they promise 24). The best bit:  Because it’s water-based and light, you can top up when needed—unlike other silicon-based ones that stay caked on top.

Price: Rs. 3300 | M.A.C Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation | Nykaa

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