I don’t know if I am over reacting or taking things too seriously, but I am sure that if I don’t write this today, I might regret it tomorrow…
The very first time I came to Canada and introduced myself to the students in UBC campus, people had various reactions…
– Some would say, “Oh so you are from the Middle East”, when Uzbekistan is actually in Central Asia. I don’t mean to say that people should know the exact location of each country in the world. Yet, I do believe people should be more careful while making judgments or certain associations by looking at the person. Just because I wear hijab (head scarf that Muslim females wear) doesn’t mean that I am from the Middle East.
– Some would not be able to pronounce the name calling it UzPakistan, or Uzafghanistan… I understand that it might be hard to pronounce the name of my home country, but what stroke me the most was when I heard,
– “Is that the country where Borat is from?” (with a sarcastic smile on their face..) and once I paused for a while, most of the people would say “I don’t mean to offend you but that’s the only time I heard about this country.. ”
All right, Uzbekistan
- was part of the Great Silk Road,
- was homeland for famous scholars like: Ismail-Al-Bukhari, Al-Khorezmi, Abu-Rayhon Beruniy, Alisher Navoiy and Amir Temur,
- is the third largest cotton exporter in the world,
- has the winner of FIDE World Chess Champion,
- is one of the only two doubly landlocked countries in the world,
- is the 13th country in the world with increasing GDP-real growth rate,
and the list is endless..
Yet, people heard of it only in Borats movies! Well Borat is a whole another issue and this is not what I am about to talk today.
The issue that worries me is, nowadays people think it is “normal” (whatever your definition of normal is..) to make fun of a whole nation and doubt the intelligence of more than 28,000,000 people just by looking at a video where 8 individuals seemed to have problems with using an escalator. Apparently, Damien Gayle, one of the editors in UK Daily Mail thinks it’s totally fine to have a couple of laughs and put “funny” captions on shots taken from the video, just like you would on pictures of animals!
First of all, anybody who pays enough attention to the video, can notice that the belt of the escalator was not working properly, which suggests that the reason why people were falling off is not because they didn’t know how to ride the escalator, but rather due to the misfunction of the escalator.
Second, even if we assume the escalator was in perfect condition, the video footage purposefully edited to show only 8 people, excluding all the other shoppers in the mall who were absolutely fine while riding the escalator.
Third, since I am Uzbek myself, I am aware of the dress code that the majority of the population follows in the cities, and by looking at the clothing one can see, that the video included only the guests who probably don’t live in the most developed parts of the cities.
The truth is, escalators are not a new finding to Uzbekistan. Yes, they are not found in all parts of the country such as in villages, because there is no necessity for it. Just like you wouldn’t see a grand shopping mall with twenty escalators in the middle of Siberia in Russia, or in the middle of some small town in the UK, they wouldn’t build big projects in the rural areas of Uzbekistan. As simple as that!
Even if escalators were unveiled to Uzbekistan very recently, and even if all the Uzbek population was struggling with riding an escalator, I don’t see the “ hilarious” part of teasing people and looking down upon them. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be wasting my time and energy to write about this issue, if it was uploaded by some youtubers just for fun and had a dozen mean comments about the individuals in the video.
Unfortunately, that’s not the only case! An article on this video was published in UK Daily Mail on 20th December 2011, where the author – Damien Gayle comedified, and hilarisified the footage, by putting sarcastic captions and by making up stories for each person. Moreover, the title of the article was “How can getting on an escalator be this hilarious? Confused Uzbeks struggle with new walkway”
Apart from the nasty sarcasm in the topic, the author generalizes the ability of riding the escalator of the whole Uzbek population, by using the word UZBEKS! On top of everything, the rude comments such as “…anyone have any footage of them using a door?” – Craig Milton, Toronto, Ontario., 20/12/2011 were accepted and got the most likes!
If such popular and official websites think it is acceptable to make fun of nations that they barely even know of… what does this suggest to the rest of the world?
Does this mean that all the people who are fed with media every single day of their life, will find it “hilarious” to watch people falling?
Does this mean that everything we learnt in high school and back when we were kids, such as: making fun of people and bullying is not right, is actually right?
So where do we draw the line between having fun and making fun of people?
There is an Uzbek saying: “Hazilning tagi zil”, which can more or less be translated to “There is truth behind every joke”.
I don’t know what is the truth behind these teasing jokes made in the mentioned article, but I know one thing, it is not acceptable!
An Uzbek girl who can perfectly ride an escalator.