Category Archives: Television

Why the ‘Burka Avenger’ Sparks Frustration: A Personal Opinion

Burka Avenger

I agree I’m a little bit behind with the news, as I only just found out about this new superhero on the block, the ‘Burka Avenger’. It is the story of a teacher at school, who decides to fight tyranny, crime and the like around her village and will be aired soon on a Pakistani TV channel. So what has sparked debate once again on Pakistani soil, this time about a character in a childrens’ animation? This super-heroine, in order to protect her identity, dresses herself up in a ‘burka’- i.e. the equivalent of the head-to-toe Muslim veil.

Many people defending the ‘Burka Avenger’ claim that ‘the animation effort should be praised’. This argument is beyond me, and completely separate from the issue here. It is supposed to be an animation for children, and for that, the responsibility on the heads of the creators increases. I don’t entirely believe that the creators have some hidden message beneath it all. No, it seems like whoever came up with the name of the show had one thing on his or her mind- ratings. Naming a character ‘Burka Avenger’ means it is sparking a forseeable controversial debate about a piece of clothing, which is controversial. Simply put, the show will have more viewers given this name. It could be for the same reason Veena Malik decided to shock people by appearing nude on the cover of some magazine; to generate interest in controversy, to gain attention and publicity in the media, or simply to earn a living. But, the deeper and more sinister reason could be that the only socially acceptable way to have a female heroine fighting crime is to cover her up in a burka. This is what I initially thought, however, once I watched the trailer, it seemed like the former reason better fits the situation.

The second issue, I guess, are the two groups arguing for and against the burka. The first one that asks, ‘Why cover her up in a burka at all?’; and the second one that says, ‘It’s a good show with a good message, never mind the burka’.

It is certainly distressing to see the latter argument, again and again; to stop complaining; to hear the same opinion that Pakistani liberal fascists are on the warpath, always criticizing etc etc. and so forth. But the fact remains that for one, burka has nothing to do with Pakistani culture, especially not the type the super-heroine is wearing. It originated and always was a part of Arab culture. Now again, this is quite a recent thing to try to do everything the perceived Arab way; to pronounce our ‘s’s like ‘th’s and replace ‘z’s with ‘d’s. We are not Arabs, note. We are South Asians, we are Pakistanis, enough with this identity transfer. I reject this notion of ‘pan-Arabism’. I reject the imposition of Arab dress, ideology, culture and language on Pakistanis. The thing is, if people are so intent on following this code, then the men should also wear checkered headdresses, yet it is only the women who are keen to garb themselves in this Arab garment. It is not the law of our country, it is not the dress of our country. It should, therefore, not be the dress of (probably) the first Pakistani-born and bred super-heroine.

The problem is that the people designing these concepts, on the lighter side of life, maybe do not know the power of mass media; and on the darker side, they are fully aware that the best way for acceptance of a certain thing is to put it on television and feed it to the masses. In any case, whatever the message might be- the girl fights crime, teaches all the good lessons to children- she is still dressed in a garment, which is the symbol of subjugation of women around the world, accept or reject this fact, or swallow it with a bitter pill, this is the truth.

I want to believe that the creators, instead, used the burka as irony; a woman who fights the patriarchy in the same costume intended for her submission. I think that underlying it all, this is the better message.

To many readers who are already aware of the ‘Burka Avenger’, it may seem like this piece of writing is another one by those so-called liberal ‘fascists’ who make up a small proportion of Pakistanis. Ever since the elections in May, there was a lot of criticism about the ‘Burger Bachas’ and the like, who were accused of supporting Imran Khan, being a part of the ‘band-wagon’, carrying DSLRs and so forth. A noteworthy observation would be that it was these same ‘Burger Bachas’ who took to the streets 2 and a half to 3 years ago in a cleaning initiative, where they tried to mop up dirty, trash ridden parts of the city of Lahore. It was a project done under the name of Zimmedar Shehri, as far as I can remember, meaning ‘responsible citizens’.

I see nothing to joke about in this constant criticism of the youth who end up going to the few good colleges and universities in Pakistan. It is the result of their hard work, most of the time. The University where I studied was giving many scholarships to many, many students. In fact, some of my friends studied their entire time there on fully-funded scholarships. To mock this intelligence is wrong, to mock these kids is also wrong. In a counter argument, I would ask the critics to think if it was better that the regular kid spent all day on the street, smoking cigarettes and hollering at girls going to the market, or spend a few hours hitting the books to improve his future. The story seems to be one of those ‘sour grapes’ type to me.

We do not study to Westernize ourselves. We have no liberal agenda, in fact, to fight for human rights is not a liberal agenda. If anyone insists on calling it an ‘agenda’, then better call it a ‘human agenda’.

Anyone looking for the Burka Avenger can watch the trailer (in English) here on YouTube. I do admit I was impressed, but I really wish the avenging angel was dressed more feminist-ically.

Why I’m in Love with Peter Bishop

So my newest obsession, steadily and alarmingly growing, is watching Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop on Fringe. It’s a strangely sexy, raw sci-fi, brilliantly written show. Not only that, the cast and make of characters and the way they have evolved and bonded together is the reason why I need a Fringe-fix almost every other night. But here’s to the superb male lead, Joshua Jackson, and the reasons why I fell in love with Peter Bishop.

“His name is Peter Bishop. He’s a high-school drop-out, IQ at 190, just 50 points north of genius. Misfit, nomad. Hasn’t kept a job longer than two months. He’s been a wild land fireman, cargo pilot and briefly a college chemistry professor. He falsified a degree from MIT. He even managed to get a few papers published before he was found out. Sounds like a massive pain in the ass.” -Agent Olivia Dunham

Misfit, nomad.

So he’s a complicated man, a misfit, going from place to place, without being centered anywhere. That is, until he reunites with Walter and finds Olivia. He never stays in one place long, but now he does. A massive pain in the ass? Not really, just a misguided bad boy, with a lot of good guy potential.

Genius.                   

Not only is he good-looking, he’s a genius. He speaks more than 4 languages, he understands the complex theories of fringe science Walter is always trying to explain, and he comes up with his own too. How many times has he saved the day with his super abilities of deduction? He’s the classic jack-of-all-trades…

He’s hot.

Does anyone remember when Peter goes in Olivia’s consciousness to try and save her? He emerges wearing his sunglasses and looking just too handsome to be actually real. That’s how Olivia sees him. That’s how all the Fringe-Josh-crazy-women (like me) see him. He’s hot. And that smile, it just comes out and it’s contagious. Massive dynamic crush.

Picture Credits: upshot.livejournal.com

Perfect steely-blue-eyed smolder.

Whenever there’s something he doesn’t like, something he doesn’t want to do, expect this smolder to just reach you across the screen and kick-start your heart into beating at twice the normal rate. Am I speaking for all the ladies?

He loves Olivia.

What is more heart-rendering than true love in a sci-fi television series? This love has taken Peter into various inexplicable places, i.e. Olivia’s mind, catching a chemical-drug-selling bad guy, into a machine that saves the world, using ‘weird connections’ to help Olivia… (You get the drift).

Peter-Walter equation.

Despite everything that’s happened between him and Walter (the reason why he’s in the wrong universe, for that matter), he still loves Walter and does not want to lose him. (Note: As far as before the season 4 finale takes place, this is the case. Can’t say what the ultimate relationship future will be here!)

 It’s Joshua Jackson.

‘Nuff said.

‘Rest in Peace’: Missing in Buffyworld

Reasons why I miss hearing from Buffyworld
Angel. The original Angel in Seasons 1 & 2 was half of the reason for the popularity of the show. He was the best ‘good’ vampire in all the vampire lore. The new ones are just copycats.
Giles. The show wouldn’t have been half as good without Giles in it. Why does Joss Whedon always fit in a Brit somewhere in his shows? I don’t care why. I love that he does it, and those are some kick-ass Brits (Adelle Dewitt from Whedon’s Dollhouse).
Spike. Of course, I’ve written an entire post on Spike previously. He filled in the gaps after Angel and Cordelia left. He filled in the gaps when the show turned sticky, and he twisted it around somehow, always unpredictably predictable. He also brought a whole lot of ‘cool’ to the Scooby Gang.
Mythology. Buffy’s screenwriters used a lot of really good, really researched mythology, and turned it around Buffy-way. A Preying Mantis schoolteacher, an Egyptian mummy-girl, Inca gods, Native American lore, different worldly dimensions and witchcraft, werewolves- it was all there- in a good way.
A Good Bout of Buffy-whining. Buffy was a whiner. Yes, she always saved the day, but most of the times she was the one who got the day in trouble (turning Angel into Angelus). An episode wasn’t complete without Buffy whining, and I loved that.
Evolution of Willow. That was a roller coaster in character development- it started in innocence, wide-eyed, went into heartbreak, and headed straight toward ‘Dark Willow’.
Xander’s Loyalty. He deserves a spot here. He never left Buffy’s side. Not even in the comics. Not even when nobody remained.

On Spikes: Reasons for a Spike Spin-off

Spike
If another character deserves a spin-off from Buffy, it’s Spike. I think I recently read an article on Rotten Tomatoes which had one such ‘most wanted spin-off list’. I fail to remember exactly if Spike was on that list or not. But, for me, if there was such a spin-off, I’d probably be a pre-release fan. William the Bloody, or Spike, made his debut appearance on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 2, when he came to Sunnydale with his then-girlfriend, crazy vampire-chick  Drusilla.  Spike and Drusilla were two of the trio with Angel who made Season 2 one of the best season’s of Buffy. Anyway, here are a couple of reasons why I would love to see (or read) a spin-off based entirely on Spike.
1. Recollections from Spike’s past: We know that Spike was originally a struggling poet ridiculed because of his ‘bloody awful’ poetry, earning him the nickname of William the Bloody. But I would actually like to watch those parts of his life, shown in some seasons as flashbacks. For me, that’s not enough and I’d rather see them in a more continuous and detailed form; parts which would make Spike’s character a whole rather than just a part of Buffy’s gang.
2. Focus on Spike’s character: The reason why Spike was a ‘breakthrough’ character was because he was different from the run of the mill vampires. He didn’t have a soul, yet he had feelings which sometimes caused conflicts in his own behavior. He truly loved both Drusilla and Buffy, up to the point of dying. He was more of an anti-hero, which made watching Spike bits in the show both unpredictable and the most awaited ones.
3. Unruly destruction: Spike’s love for brawling and picking up fights with literally every kind of beings, from humans to demons to vampires is also one of his classic traits. His cheerful references to blood and destruction in ‘Buffy’ also makes him funny, in a sadistic way of course.
4. Spike’s accent and pretty cool vocals: Undoubtedly, the best thing about Spike is his accent and a really good, throaty singing voice (as heard on in the Buffy musical).
5. Coming to the rescue: In a lot of Buffy moments, Spike comes unexpectedly to the help of the Scooby Gang. In Season 2 he brings Angelus down temporarily after pretending to be confined to his wheelchair. In Season 6 with Buffy dead, he’s the only fighter in the Gang, protecting Dawn and warding off demons. In Season 7, he ultimately dies helping Buffy to destroy the Hellmouth.
6. Uncanny ability for detecting the truth: Spike has always homed in on the weaknesses felt most by the members of the Scooby Gang. In Season 3 he gives Buffy and Angel the home-truth about their relationship. In Season 4 he tells Willow and Xander the rotten disabilities they face in their lives because of Buffy. This is also another feature of Spike’s ability to create discontent between the members of the Scooby Gang by sensing what’s under the skin and playing on their weaknesses.
7. Spike’s wardrobe: Spike’s trademark bad-ass black leather jacket always manages to create a presence. He’s hot, he brawls, he drives a hot classic (through Season 2 to 3) and a wicked bike stolen from a demon in Season 6. Go James Marsters, I say.
spike
Some of Spike’s character bits can be read on Buffy Season 8 and Angel: After the Fall comics. However, I would dearly love to watch a spin-off, mini-series or even a movie about Spike because he is one of the greatest characters in television history. Hats off to Joss Whedon.