Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Criticism getting Attention; Addressing the critics of Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy


Just because "Criticism calls for Attention"


Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. 
~Winston Churchill 
Last night was a triumphant night for Pakistan when filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won second Academy Award for her country. Not only did she win for her short feature documentary "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness", about honor killings Chinoy also delivered a strong acceptance speech about the power and strength of women and that it is the power of films and in particular this one which was able to make a change in her home country. 
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif screened the film at his residence in Islamabad few days before the Academy Awards Ceremony and reiterated his commitmentto ending the practice of "honor" killings in Pakistan. 
However it is so ironic that everyone was not happy with her win. Shortly after her speech in Beverly Hills criticism of Obaid-Chinoy began circulating on social media under the hashtag #WeDisownSharmeen, the major criticisms being that her documentaries that, only show the negative side of Pakistan. There are many good and praise-worthy aspects of Pakistan which are not being filmed by her. Another accusation that she does this to seek attention from western media who generally sympathize with the "bechari female victims" of a third world Islamic Country. 

Well I just don't agree with such remarks. A filmmaker speaking about potentially life-threatening concepts of ‘respect’ or "honor" of a family is not only helping the victim but is also creating awareness that this concept is morally and religiously wrong. 
Obaid-Chinoy is not defaming’ and ‘disgracing’ Pakistan in my opinion she is helping those sufferers who are being ditched by their own family members in the name of "honor". 
"Yes she will definitely win Oscar as she has worked this time harder to defame & disgrace Pakistan in front of west,” tweeted one critic. 
In my humble opinion Sharmeen is not defaming Pakistan. She has addressed a problem which has not been tackled in the 68 years. Honor killings have been going on for many years in Pakistan, many people did not know about it. Maybe because no one ever had the guts to discuss it! 
To all the critics of Miss Chinoy I would like to say do you know who introduced Lady Gaga on the Oscar stage when she sang her Oscar nominated song about rape ? the Vice President of United States, Joe Biden! 
Gaga gave an emotional performance of her Oscar-nominated song “Til It Happens to You” from “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary film about sexual assault on college campuses. Gaga appeared on the stage flanked by survivors of sexual assaults. 
The best picture winner at the 2016 Oscars was the film "Spotlight", it is the chilling Pulitzer Prize winning story of sexual abuse chronicled by the Boston Globe. The producers of the film thanked the writers for bringing this painful subject in the media.  

Spotlight did well in bringing a horrible story to the limelight from under covers. Scandals and problems  even the magnitude of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have now become familiar. 
So do Americans think that the crew and cast of Spotlight are defaming the image of their religious institutions and their country? 
Grammy Award winning singer and a sexual abuse victim herself, Lady Gaga brought the Academy Awards audience to its feet with a flawless rendition of "Til It Happens to You" from the documentary 'The Hunting Ground', was she criticized by her countrymen? 
No not all, social and print media is full of praises for both the film and the song! 
Then why Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and why the people of her native country are criticizing her?
Why? 
Maybe because they just don't want to accept their flaws or maybe they just want to hide the problems rather than struggle to solve them!
Please people, for a change accept your mistakes, your short comings it will help you conquer them. What do you think by hiding the issues,  they will go away? 
Bringing taboo subjects to an international stage can be perceived by few as an embarrassment for the country. Maybe so, but it looks like a  motivation for bringing change for Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and many other emerging Pakistani film makers who are making films about the subjects of child-marriages, feudalism and abuse.
Maybe it's the beginning of something big something great... a change in the status quo.
Where ever there is life,there is hope! 
The Revolution introduced me to art, and in turn, art introduced me to the Revolution!