“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. (Wilde)
A world in which a piece of art offends someone is not a natural world. A nation in which a piece of art offends someone is an underdeveloped nation however vast and varied its infrastructure maybe.
A piece of art is representative, even if it tries to represent something imagined by the creator. But a piece of art does not represent the entire world of a particular time.
Logically speaking, if a work of art offends someone, then EVERY work of art should offend her. Then they should not be selective.
Because every work of art is revolutionary. It is subversive. It is subversive even by way of being reactionary.
If the movie padmaavat shows the navel of a woman representing a rajasthani, then a logical rajasthani should not react to it. Because it is fiction. Historical fiction is fiction. That is why there is a word added to it: fiction. (Even history is fiction, but that is going in a different direction.)
Even if you are a genius and you have a time machine and you have gone to the 13th century and found that women in those days used to hide their navels, even then you should not get offended by fiction. Because in fiction, anything can happen. And anything should happen. Else you will say you are bored. Else you will demand for a navel show.
In the same way, if in the enactment of a period drama which clearly states that it is based on 13th century, a jauhar is done. Then the creator of the fiction is not glorifying the jauhar. It is a mere enactment of a fictitious story which is made to entertain. If anything, the creator is trying to present before you an age in the history of India when women committed suicide for their dead husbands. Which seems to be the case.
We have to accept our past. Rajputs have to accept their past. Brahmins have to accept their past. Today there are NO (or rather, should not be) Brahmins or Rajputs. We are all friends on Facebook.
If you are accepting your past too much, and are currently endowing yourself with fancy jeweled clothing items before plunging yourself into fire for your husband who will die someday… then LOL.
If you see a rape scene on a movie, and then go out and try to rape the first man you find, then LOL on your sensibility.
But such things happen. Man is inherently irrational. And to make up for his own irrationality, he tries to destroy something which is nothing but harmless pieces of crap which can only be enjoyed.
If padmaavat is offending you, then Gangs of wasseypur should too. In this movie, mothers and sisters and all the holes of a human being are targeted and ravished, and not just the vagina. And if one goes into an analysis, we know our language is totally vaginal/assed up. So targeting a piece of art might be considered a folly if other more blatantly obvious things are not considered.
Art is meant to be a mirror. An ironic mirror maybe, which shows you reality in a hyper form to make you aware of it. But it is a mirror nonetheless. And like mirror, art can be contorted, smeared with oil, or simply blackened.
We are too selective in our states of offence. This tendency needs to be checked. We only get offended because of our habit. Someone gets offended when he hears a word ‘chutiya’ because not many people around her use it (while he is using an equivalent english expression ‘asshole’ every minute of her day). We may feel uneasy. But being offended and feeling uneasy are different things.
Nowadays people also get offended because it is now a fashion. Today people try so hard to be conscious of the plight of women (the so called feminists) that they find a degradation of women even in the way a painting is hung on the wall of a house.
You can feel uneasy and you can choose not to watch/read a fiction and you can even choose to raise you opinion against it, call it a tasteless work, call it pure crap… (Though, again: no piece of art is crap. Honey Singh does not create songs. He creates party beats. And that is a kind of art because there is a section of world which enjoys it.) You can do anything like that. But you should not get offended. For your own sake. Because there is something really wrong with a world which gets offended by a piece of art.
Whenever you feel like getting offended by a work of art: remember a simple thing what Wilde said: “All art is quite useless.” Which is quite true. All art is quite useless. And if you are being offended by useless things, you might be a favorite location of a wonderful illness called Piles.