ON Friday as I opened the Internet I saw the picture of former Brazilian Playboy girl Nana Gouvea standing beside a fallen tree in New York devastated by the hurricane Sandy that has caused huge losses including deaths across the North-eastern states of America. Alongside was the report of even Americans shocked by her pose of smiling and several pictures of herself in good mood before various areas of this devastation. How outrageous could be these American idols?
But only on Thursday I find a news item in The Economic Times headlined “India Joins the Bunny Race as Playboy Comes to Town”. That should be outrageous to anyone who knows what Playboy clubs that have been now allowed to invade this country means. Does globalization mean letting every evil abroad to penetrate your country?
Playboy started as a magazine in the US founded by a dilettante named Hugh Hefner. It pictured girls in provocatively nude poses (as against artistically) on the cover and had many such descriptions inside. Even in liberal America it faced several legal challenges. But these challenges could not stand due largely to the First Amendment provision in the US Constitution that forbids state intervention in matters of religion and the Press. The type of counter culture that Hefner promoted caught on among the decadent section of America. The idea soon blossomed into a huge enterprise with Playboy clubs and branded items of luxury. Hefner himself had several marriages some of them with the cover girls he promoted. Despite the failure of legal challenges to his venture, a large section of America continues to oppose this type of misuse of the human body which many sects there itself consider as sacred.
If you want to know more about the type of ideas this Playboy wave brings in just see the title of the book on Hefner and others of ilk, in author and journalist Gay Talese’s 1950’s book Thy Neighbor’s Wife. It is written to explain the legal challenges and describe the “real experiences” and “real characters” upholding the right of each husband to actively pursue another man’s wife and to glorify women who seek to get into Playboy clubs. It almost finds spiritual joy in destroying the sacredness of marriage and urges women to violate the marriage vow quoting many actual stories happening in these clubs. Its foreword says it all: “How do we resolve our old fashioned ideas of marriage with our need for novelty and freshness?” But I must add that after reaching a peak of popularity in the Seventies the movement has waned and Americans are finding this so called counter culture disgusting and loathsome, especially when nature began to hit back with AIDS.
When that is so, who in our country and government allowed this disgusting and loathsome movement to enter our sacred land? The news report quotes Sanjay Gupta, chief executive of the Mumbai based PB Lifestyle Ltd. “The first upscale club with 22,000square feet of space will open by mid-December”. Where will it open? In North Goa’s Candolim beach! Shame on you Goa government for allowing this sort of virus to enter your state. What has the BJP Government and its CM, Parikkar, to say about this incursion?
The news item quotes the club official to reassure us that there would be no nudity in these ventures so far as Indian branch of the American enterprise is concerned. Thanks Mr. Gupta for this little mercy. But let us not be fooled. The quote also says: “The business in India won’t be restricted to nightclubs and bars alone. Globally, Playboy merchandise is sold in over 25,000 stores in and around 180 countries, and India won't be an exception….Its (the Indian clubs) members will be allowed access to global clubs and benefits, including the exclusive parties at the Playboy mansion, home to Hefner and his girlfriends.” There you have the bait for the Indian hedonists to enter the American enterprise that promotes not just nudity but sexual anarchy. Never mind the fact that the rapid spread of AIDS with its destructive potential has been traced to such anarchy and since city streets of America began to fill with abandoned AIDS patients left to slow death and criminal life around metros and restaurants to waylay people and rob them, America has begun to rethink on Hefner and his brand of sexual anarchy. What is now bad for America is good for India, huh?
So enthusiastic is this venture into India that the news item says Rs 200 crores is the investment in the enterprise that will soon spread to other cities with its exclusive clubs, restaurants, stores etc. Obviously Hefner will get royalty payment from the Indian venture for use of his patented title. What the news item does not reveal is how much the Indian club members will shell out particularly when they get access to the American clubs. Even though nudity will not be allowed for now, there is no doubt that fig leaf would also drop soon under pressure of some of our own brand of so called liberals who have been campaigning for such aberrations as legalizing homosexuality and even same sex marriages. If America can have them why not India? That is part of their argument.
Being modern is to them being apes of what some sections in the West think and act.
The ultimate argument for such enterprise is holding up the Kama Sutra, India’s treatise on sex. The news item quotes what the enterprise would do and uses such laudatory terms as “iconic brand” , “a rash of aspirational lifestyle products and services” (is coveting another man’s wife an aspirational lifestyle?), “plans to open clubs, cafes and retail stores in the land of Kama Sutra by year end”. Those who quote Vatsyayana’s literary and scientific work to justify sexual anarchy do not know what that great work is. It does not in any of its verses promote such anarchy or immorality of the worst order. It is meant to study an aspect of human life that includes romance, love, sex etc. Let us not damn Vatsyayana by quoting his text to justify seeking seduction of even married women.
Anticipating strident opposition in India to this venture the news item quotes the promoters to reassure that these clubs would be “sanitized” and that the “bunnies will be suited to Indian sensibilities and moral values.” But gives away the secret when the official says that the target clientele for the clubs “is not just male”. Unless our people are purblind, the meaning is quite clear. From experience we know that there are always smokescreens behind all sorts of criminality. Nobody puts up Rs 200 crores for mere some harmless fun. Will our opinion makers wake up and nip the mischief in the bud? Let the Parikkar sircar take the lead in killing this virus having given it the license to set up shop. And what about the I&B and Culture Ministries at the Centre? Was there a public consultation before the license was given for all India set up?
If this sort of freedom spreads there would be an Indian Playboy girl soon boldly smiling at some hundred dead people’s picture after a storm, all flashed by herself on the Facebook! Novelty, man, great novelty, dump your old fashioned culture!
(Senior journalist based in Delhi)