In Focus 13th February, 2017

Shit People Say On Valentine’s Day.

This year, like every other year, the debate will again be limited to Valentine’s Day vs. those who oppose it? That’s not the debate we should be focussing on. The debate is: consent vs. force, liberty vs. tyranny, choice vs. compulsion.

It’s Valentine’s Day. Who cares? Let them do what they want!

It’s not a part of our culture. Agreed. Neither are airplanes, or antibiotics, or anime. The logic of attacking something simply because it happened to originate in a different part of the Earth is beyond me. We live in a globalised world. News, information and culture is exchanged by the terabytes everyday by the fiber optic cables under the oceans. What is the big deal if we take an idea from it that we like, that makes us feel closer to each other?

But while zealous nutjobs may talk about Valentine’s Day being a serious problem, Valentine’s Day bans shouldn’t be dismissed as a solution without a problem. Because they’re right. Valentine’s Day poses a serious threat to our social order. Valentine’s Day and the slippery slope it represents has the potential to upend our social conventions forever.

For generations, the Indian gene pool has been policed by parents anxious to keep them ‘pure’, which is a euphemism for protecting caste and class structures. When children need the approval of their parents, and their love lives can be shut down by force, these structures of feudalism are protected. When the youth seize their sexual agency, it can be devastating to any society disposed to protecting the structures of oppression.

Valentine’s Day may be a holiday marketed by Archies and Ferns n Petals, but it’s not scary because it represents love. It’s scary because it represents revolution. It’s scary because it represents agency. It’s scary because it represents subversion.

But yet again, in the frenzy that is going to be Valentine’s Day, with chandeliers hanging from mall ceilings, and heart emojis on newsroom headlines, the stark, ironical humor in the contradictions that this festival celebrates will be missed again. We will be subjected to yelling matches between the right and the left on primetime national TV again. We will miss the point again.

But wait. There is hope somewhere hiding in the dark closets of this morbid picture I’m painting right now. I’m not sure what it is. But I think it’s laughter. It is finding the time and the resilience to laugh at the poorly shaped logic of those who would shut it down. It is finding the compassion to pity those who claw into the soil of a rapidly changing world and find no respite.

It is in that spirit of laughter that we present this video, one chronicling the well established entrails of the spirit of debate, one that misses all the time, one that you might have overheard at a party, or a coffee shop, or a metro ride. As we prepare for the inevitable bout of depression that this day will bring, we hope this makes you laugh. Peace out.

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