But when it comes to Shah Rukh, it doesn't take more than 20 seconds to figure out who he is. Any search engine on the Internet will give more information on him than Hollywood stars Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt and despite that if it took them two hours to figure out..shahrukh himself found the detention a 'little embarassing' (in his own words). it meant 'disrespect'. how could anyone so rich, successful and famous be treated as any another khan?
the reaction- how could the americans be so dumb as to detain a celebrity, downplays the fact that khan was detained because he was a khan, muslim, indian, south asian, asian, brown....different. this contradiction seems to escape the media and khan's friends in the industry and khan himself. didn't he say that it was his name which aroused suspicion, initially?
celebrity is also merit. the brahminized classes, once in a while, reward those not born to merit with celebrity if they find them meritorious enough. or if they accept or do not challenge the brahminized worldview much. people like dr.abdul kalam or m.s. subbulakshmi or shahrukh khan. it's a strategy that works beautifully- the world sees a hindu nation lionizing a muslim president and thinks: the hindu is so broadminded. and the hindu can go on pushing his narrow agenda of merit.
what is merit? one simple answer: merit is the hindu's modern shorthand for purity.
the media found much irony in the fact that khan was making a film, my name is khan, which tells the story of a man who is detained by the american police because they find his behaviour suspicious. and why is his behaviour suspicious? because he suffers from a developmental disorder called asperger's syndrome. this website dedicated to the film says:
Asperger’s Syndrome is a neurobiological disorder on the autistic spectrum. People with Asperger’s are often very intelligent but have deficiencies in social skills (for example, they may not pick up nonverbal cues, or establish eye contact), tend to take every comment literally, and are highly sensitive to sounds, smells or colors. Relationships, especially romantic ones, can be extremely challenging.so, in the movie too khan isn't arrested, chiefly, because he's khan, muslim, indian, south asian, asian, brown... he's arrested because he suffers from a neurobiological disorder.
doesn't that sound similar to this argument: students who can't make it to the so-called best institutions in india suffer from poverty, not caste.
truth is so much simpler than the fictions the brahminized classes feed themselves- karan johar (while conceiving his movie) doesn't think the idea that a khan could be arrested for, simply, being a khan is believable (though reality had told him otherwise even during shooting of the movie when one of the muslim actors in the movie had to be sent back home). so he feeds himself a fiction that that could happen only if someone was not normal, and in the twisted sense that he understands the disorder, that someone who suffers from asperger's syndrome is not a normal human being..... the reaction of khan's pals in the industry (when faced with the reality of khan's detention) is the outcome of a variant of the same fiction they've fed themselves- that successful, famous people are normal. how could normal people be detained?
who's normal? those who are born to merit. or those who display to the satisfaction of those who are born to merit that they possess merit (like shahrukh khan etc). but that doesn't seem to be the way the americans understand merit or normalcy. merit for them these days is something that the khans, muslims, indians, south asians, asian, brown people do not possess. and normal people are those who have the right to measure every one else's merit. which can only mean people born in america or western europe.
this is a great jolt for india's brahminized classes who desperately wish to be measured as normal by the west.
while the americans seem to publicly acknowledge that they don't see any merit in khan-ness, india's elite would never do that. the brahminized classes of india would publicly admit only poverty, as they measure it (i.e., in purely rupee terms), and certain physical impediments to leading, in their view, a normal life as the only markers of difference. people who suffer from those disadvantages have a legitimate claim to our sympathy. others are whiners. look at shah rukh khan himself- hasn't he become so rich and successful? so when they make films, their distrust of khan-ness, of otherness, would always be camouflaged in asperger's syndrome.