article, free speech, life, literature and books, REALISM

The Handmaid’s Tale: Why adaptation of Atwood’s dystopia deserved the Emmy

“We lived as usual, by ignoring. Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.” – Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

Who could’ve predicted that a dystopian show could give online streaming portals a run for their money? The king of streaming did shake in its place when “The Handmaid’s Tale” won eight Emmys very recently.  And that is no mean feat.

What is so eerie about Handmaid’s tale is how close it is to the nightmares in the present cultural context. It instantly drives home the fear of a totalitarian state, towards which the ideological warfare in our times is pointing. To take women as pivots in a story and do it justice, all the while staying true to the essence of the novel is marvelous. The producers have contemporized Margaret Atwood’s dystopia by the same name and given us something that is beautiful yet horrific in its portrayal. The Emmy was well on its way.

Gilead (which is what the US has been named after being taken over by religious fundamentalists) is home to women who serve at the whims and fancies of their male counterparts. Fertile women serve as concubines to men, their voices muffled by power and threats. The story revolves around Offred (the very beautiful and charming Elizabeth Moss) and other women, who have been separated from their families and forced to bear children for their superiors.  The narration is in an omniscient first person, which lets us peek into the psyche of the lead and witness the raging internal conflict which is a microcosm of the external turmoil to a certain extent.

I had to pause and process different situations on more than a few occasions. I binge watched the entire season, which is breath-taking in its entirety. The show is layered- it has political overtones, and the show’s target audience is very specific. But it reaches out and connects more people in its portrayal of how sections of this community live without access to basic rights.

Without giving away the plot, the resemblance of the narrative to our world is both awesome and nerve-wracking. Religious fundamentalism with some wacko ideas about creation and women rights, the show can be read as political work on the current plight of women in the middle east. It is also conscious to the debate of pro-life vs pro-choice raging in the United States.

The scenes of power, subjugation and slavery leave you on tenterhooks; the rule of ultra-religious hypocrite bigots makes it eerily like something that is overtaking our own country. People are being killed in the name of religion and ideology. To use old religious texts as blueprints to create an ideal world now and the consequences it may bear has been realistically displayed.

Certain hard-hitting scenes – the demolition of a church, burning of old texts and the underground brothel which houses women who have a ‘little shelf life left’ – all serve to highlight the hypocrisy of their time (and ours). What would we be in a world devoid of free speech, movement, LGBTQ rights and religious order (whatever that even means anymore)?

What I loved about the show is how normal the cast is – you don’t have superbly good looking models parading as serious actors. All the characters are indeed very memorable- you have the crazy woman, the obedient wife, the rebellious lesbian and so many others who give you different perspectives on the issue. A certain hamfisted characterization could have been avoided in the black and white portrayal of individuals. That critique apart, the show spells must watch if you think this world is a circus and we are all either clowns or spectators.

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Donald Trump, politics, Uncategorized, united states

Trump’s Travel Ban in Deep Waters, Again.

In what will turn out to be a great setback for the Trumpian government, a federal appeals court upheld the ruling against the government’s ban on travellers from six Muslim-majority nations into United States. In a stunning 10-3 ruling, judges seemed to side with the lower court’s initial decision to stop certain parts of Donald Trump’s executive order, promulgated in March, which barred people from 6 countries, namely Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Syria from entering the United States for 90 days. The order also sought to to suspend the refugee program for 120 days.

People decried the revised executive order for being discriminatory in nature against a religious community. Although the revised order was milder in tone and extent of applicability, it still did not go down well with human rights activists. Trump tried to argue that since only a few countries were in its ambit, the order could not be considered a blanket ban on Muslims. However, that’s a laughable prospect. The second ban only eliminated Iraq from the initial 7-country list; US has for long worked on the front with Iraq in battling the ISIS and other counter-terrorism activities.

Still the ban profiles the individuals of a community as threats under the guise of national security. People were however vary of the fact that it might be hard to challenge the ban in court. Those in opposition of the ban would’ve had to prove that the ban would have done ‘real harm’ if not nullified which would’ve been harder to prove since the ban was not permanent in nature but only dealt in temporary denial of visas. Also, foreigners do not generally have a claim to sue. Selection of the countries, which is a political decision considering Trump’s earlier rhetoric on Muslim, is clearly discriminatory. Trumpian government is planning to continue to fight the decision in court, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions promising to take the matter to the Supreme Court. The court read between the lines and found deep connection between the campaign statements made by the President and his subsequent action of promulgating the travel ban. His extremist ideology and firm stance on the issue is what bought him a surge of supporters and the travel ban seems to pander to the whims of a scared bigoted public. ACLU, which fought the ban in court, terms this as a big win and it sure is. All hopes are now pinned on the Supreme Court which should ideally uphold 4th Circuit’s decision and overturn this prejudiced travel ban.