Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Importance of Understanding Culture

With the ever increasing globalization of our world, it is sometimes easy to forget that we are still a planet of people that come from very different places in vastly different cultures. Just because I can order a BigMac in a McDonald's in Tokyo does not mean that I can walk into the nearest Japanese home with my shoes on.

Richard Gere must have assumed public displays of affection for beautiful women were commonplace and smiled upon by the world at large. But how did this Hollywood actor miss ever seeing a Bollywood film in his many years? I watched one once with my Indian-American friend and she pointed out the modesty in the film straightaway. And this was many years ago and I haven't forgotten it. (do you remember, Jen?)

High profile Indians are trying to smooth things over with the global public. They don't want to lose tourism dollars after all to the somewhat frightening response of the locals. I find the story entertaining, but also informative. We are still very different people and a little cultural learning and respect would help us all. (Especially if we are planning on being in a public event)

Read the story.


euphrony said...

If I remember correctly, I believe that Richard Gere is Buddhist, and has long been a supporter of Tibet. This would make me think he would be even more aware of the region and its cultural taboos.

That being said, um, people can do stupid things when in an environment not their own. I'm sure it was not intended for offense, and so should be forgiven. Such things can be easily forgiven, if it is in your heart to do so.

Chaotic Hammer said...

Yeah, I thought it was weird that Gere didn't know better, too. He's spent a lot of time in that region of the world.

It may be that he normally travels there as a typical visitor, not a "star". So he never spent much time in the spotlight there. But when he got on a stage, he put on his "Hollywood" persona and mindset, and didn't think about the cultural taboos.

I'm fascinated by other cultures, and hope that I would know how to act in a manner which does not offend the sensibilities of others.

But having said that, I still don't get the whole "everyone bursts angrily into the streets and protests, burning him in effigy" mindset. The Muslim world reacts that way, and apparently the Hindu world does too. It just strikes me as unbecoming and uncivilized, I guess.

~ jen ~ said...

Yes, I DO remember...and all the singing and dancing on the beach!

It was very crass of Gere, but then, he is a member of the Hollywood set, and they do tend to forget manners (even underwear in some horrific cases!)

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