Post Colonialism Essay on Bend it Like Beckham
Post Colonialism Essay on Bend it Like Beckham
The 2002 movie Bend it like Beckham highlights the impact of traditional cultures on the young generation. Jess is a young British Indian girl who has a desire of becoming a professional football player. However, this would mean going against her parents wishes. Her mother is traditional and she follows her culture. She expects her two daughters to behave the same way. This often causes conflicts within the family and the girls find that they have to lie to their parents so that they can get what they want. The movie highlights how Indian generations have different views concerning their traditional culture and the beliefs and values of the west. The young generation is open to new ideas and perspectives. While they want to observe some of the aspects of their traditions, they also want to enjoy the western culture. This presents a new element of colonialism, where the people have accepted the dominant western culture without the use of force.
Jess’s parents have tried to maintain their culture and tradition even though they live in a western country. They choose to live in a close-knit community of Indians who share the same principles and ideals. They have maintained the gender roles of their culture. The women’s place is in the kitchen and her duty is to maintain her home and take care of her family. Jess’s mother expects her children to do the same. She keeps on nagging Jess concerning her inabilities in the kitchen, telling her that she has to learn how to make some dishes. The parents expect their children to behave in a certain way based on the proper conduct of Indian girls. Jess tells her teammates in the locker room that Indian girls are not expected or allowed to play football. Although her father supports most of her decisions, he agrees with Jess’s mother that Jess has to begin behaving like a proper girl (Chacko 82).
The Indian culture is also present in the manner of dress and appearance. The Indians wear the traditional attire and they perform Pinky’s engagement and wedding according to their traditions. The mother prefers watching Indian television programs even though she lives in London. The older generation practices the Indian religion and the Bhamra home has some religious icons. There is much insistence on respect of culture. Although jess and pinky communicate with each other and with their parents in English, they use Punjabi when greeting Tony’s mother. They also show her a sign of respect as an elder. The older generation would prefer the younger people to continue observing their culture. They expect the young Indian girls to marry early and to choose Indian boys. Jess explains that her parents would not accept a Muslim, black or white man as her suitor. They would prefer an Indian boy for her. The parents have to struggle to maintain their culture and customs in a place where their children are increasingly drawn to western influences.
Colonizers did away with people’s traditional beliefs and they imposed their own values on the local people. Maintaining one’s culture in a place where it is not the dominant culture can be challenging. The Bhamras have to deal with this situation. Despite their best efforts, they have to admit that it is not possible for their children to practice their tradition and culture. The children have opted to adopt the dominant British culture. The dominance of the British culture is portrayed in diverse ways. There is a high culture of materialism among some of the younger people, especially Pinky and her friends. Jess’s Indian name is Jesswindar, but only her mother calls her that. The rest of her family and her friends prefer calling her Jess, which is English. The rest of the young people also prefer using their English sounding names. They choose to live different lives without the restrictions of traditions. Pinky and her fiancée are intimate and they spend much time with each other before their formal wedding ceremony. This is not typical of the Indian culture.
Football is one of the most popular sports in Britain and it has a distinctive culture. Many people in the country follow the game. They support their teams strongly and they have favorite players. Jess loves Beckham and she sees him as her role model and sporting icon. Her room is filled with his pictures and her practicing jersey has his name inscribed in it. Jess’s decision to play football goes against the Indian culture since she is a girl. Her mother believes that girls should not play such games. Jess and the other young Indians prefer wearing western clothes to the traditional attire. The youth speak English and they have British accents. They also use curse words, much to their parents’ disapproval. They are open to new ideas and possibilities. Jess has strong feelings for her coach, who is Irish. She knows that her parents would not approve of it, and her own sister discourages her and she tells her to find an Indian boyfriend. Tony confesses to Jess that he is gay. She is surprised by the news and she reacts by telling him that he is Indian, implying that their culture prevents them from being gay.
The older and younger generations of Indians are different in their approach to culture. The older generation wants to maintain their culture. They do not believe that the western ideals are better than their own values and beliefs. This has caused a clash between them and their children who are more open and adaptive to the British or western culture. They have accepted the dominant culture. Unlike the colonial period, this culture has not been imposed on the people forcefully. They have accepted it willingly, and they are willing to integrate it with some of the elements of their own culture.
Bend it Like Beckham. Dir. Gurinder Chadha. Perf. Parminder Nagra, Jonathan Meyers, Keira Knightley. Redbus Film Distribution, 2002. Film
Chacko, A. Mary. “Bend it Like Beckham: Dribbling the Self through a Cross-Cultural Space.” Multicultural Perspectives 12.2 (2010): 81-86
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