Reason.tv: Bollywood vs. Bin Laden—Why radical Islam fears pop culture


Even before Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. soldiers, his brand of anti-modern, anti-pleasure Islam was under attack by Bollywood, India's pop culture juggernaut that boasts a global audience of 3 billion people.

As Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia explains, Bollywood movies and videos appeal to young men and women in Muslim and Arab countries because they dramatize the sorts of tensions between traditional and modern ways of living. "Who should decide who one should marry—is it the parents or is it the boy and girls themselves?" asks the Indian-born and raised Dalmia. "In the West, in Hollywood movies, it's not even an issue. But it's a huge issue in that part of the world and all of Bollywood movies deal with that one central question."

Dalmia also notes that Muslims are among the most popular—and sexually suggestive—performers in Bollywood productions. "When you have Muslims succeeding in Bollywood as Muslims, it makes them feel, well, we don't have to give up our religion in order to be modern," observes Dalmia. "That's very, very subversive…of Islamic demands and Islamic extremism….If you can have a good time in this world…and still be religious, why do you have to strap suicide bombs to your chest and blow yourself up?"

Approximately 4.30 minutes. Produced and edited by Hawk Jensen; camera by Paul Detrick.

Go to Reason.tv for downloadable versions of this video and subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube channel for automatic notifications when new material goes live.

For further reading, check out Dalmia's article "Bollywood vs. Bin Laden" and "Look Who's Rocking the Casbah: The revolutionary implications of Arab music videos" and "In Praise of Vulgarity: How commercial culture liberates Islam—and the West," both by Charles Paul Freund.

NEXT: So Long

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  1. I’ve seen a few Bollywood movies. They were all musicals whose names I forgot, but they all had the charming quality of a 1950’s Rogers and Hammerstein work: Sweet, uplifting, and proudly corny, with plenty of songs (in both Hindi and English) to move it along.

    Dirt-poor villagers of South Asia, when given the choice between the corrupting treacle of Bollywood and the stern hyper-puritainism of Wahabbist Islam, will likely choose to sing along with the Devil instead joining the mosque of a humorless Allah.

    I know which one I’d pick.

  2. Radical Islam SHOULD fear pop culture!

    All conservatives (Christo-shit or Allah-shit) fear pop culture! Just look at the GOP in the USA. Your girls just may go do the nasty!

    Conservatives hate: Hollywood, NPR, Natural Selection, Science, Embryonic Stem Cells, Secularism, the Establishment Clause, Pop Music, Dance, PHd’s, Egghead liberals, gays, minorities, etc.

    Damn them liberal free thinking liberal assholes!

    1. It’s statments like this that make people who chose religion disreguard libertarians as anti-religus nuts

      1. You cannot be a proponent of liberty when your own mind is chained by religious dogma.

        1. You have the dogma part correct. Look a little deeper.

        2. That’s what I keep trying to tell them!

        3. I all put chains of belief on my-self, due to facts or opinons. I don’t allow others to put chains on me, and that includes my right to believe.

      2. by the way – are you an Allah-idiot or a Christo-idiot?

        Its the same bullshit – different text.

        1. I’d pay to see Jesus and Allah fight to the death. Winner gets the Virgin Mary. Or is that the loser? I forget how that works…

          1. That would be a good $25 PPV for real.

            1. Ned, have you ever considered one of the other religions? They’re really all the same once you get down to it.

        2. Are you an atheist-idiot? and no I’m neather and if you guess what I am it still doesn’t matter if you add idiot.

          1. Yes, I agree with you more.

        3. What part of either of these is idiotic, exactly, do to others as you want done to yourself and love even strangers and enemies for what credit is it to you to love back those who love you?

        4. “Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me so?”

          “Who art thou Lord?”

      3. Shrike is not a libertarian, the guy is lunatic who managed to escape the asylum.

        1. Am too!

          1. A lunatic?

      4. Shrike is no libertarian.

        1. I really don’t give a fuck if I have to genuflect before the 2% party.

          I support —

          Free Trade/Markets
          the ACLU version of liberty.

          maybe I am not a “true libertarian” and really – I don’t give a fuck.

          1. I support —


            Secularism does not equal militant atheism.

            Free Trade/Markets

            no you don’t

            the ACLU version of liberty.

            I will believe it when I see it….all indications so far indicate otherwise.

            1. That 2% window is a tight squeeze!

              Sorry I don’t fit.

              1. I am pretty sure the group that accepts you calling them christfags because they disagree with you on monetary policy is much smaller then 2%.

                1. I’m with shrike ~ religion is a fuckin’ cancer to humanity.

          2. the ACLU version of liberty.

            So you’re all for freedom of speech but…

          3. I really don’t give a fuck if I have to genuflect before the 2% party.

            You genuflect before something pink and fleshy!

    2. The Church of Shriek. Coming to a hipster coffee shop near you soon!

      1. Nothing wrong with hipster coffee shops man

        1. There is when the church of shriek shows up.

          1. Is the Church of Shriek’s doctrine pulled straight from the NY Times op-ed and business pages? I mean, I know the liturgy is a bunch of red-faced veiniacs running around bug-eyed and screaming incomprehensibly, but I’m not sure what Shite and his comrades are actually saying.

            1. I forgot about the part where they’re waving their arms and grabbing the edge of our restaurant tables so that they might disrupt an otherwise enjoyable meal with their verbal screeds.

    3. Your moral equivalency arguments grow tired. Stick to confused supply/demand arguments over the fed printing more dollars.

    4. Wondered when Mark Morford would be dropping by.

    5. Well Shrek oh I mean Shrike, you got the dogma part down perfectly good.

    6. lefties… never more fun than when equivocating the murderous moslem hordes with Christianity.
      takes a certain lack of knowledge, respect, and sanity, I suspect; that sescribes the left perfectly.

  3. Should be interesting dude, WOw.


  4. Note to self: move to India and become a film mogul.


  5. Bin Laden is not dead, once again you have been fooled by the MSM. Have you seen the death certificate? Another lie of the left wing Obama conspiracy!

    1. bozo

  6. Creative destruction never looked so good…

  7. yet another article assuming that liberalism/license is normal and that everyone wants it. I would not bet on that yet. Liberals are willing to stake the future of the west on the idea that soon Muslims will be supporting gay marriage and abortion. We’ll see.

    1. You’re an idiot. All cultures move toward liberalism over time.

      Liberal = Freedom from religion, freedom from fascism, freedom from mind dogma of the right-wing.

      MORE LIBERALS!!!!!!!

      1. All cultures move toward liberalism over time.

        The dark ages disagree with you as does the left wing precautionary principle.

        1. How the fuck did you forget about me!?!?

        2. So you agree – Dark Ages = Conservative.

          It just took more time!

          1. I have read a good book written before 400 AD by a European.

            I have read a good book written in the 1200s by a European

            good European books written from 500 AD to 1100 AD….

            …not so much.

        3. Unless you take immensely large timeframes, you’re obviously wrong.

          For example, England of 17th and 18th century was noticeably more socially liberal than in the Victorian era.

          Theaters of the Victorian era mostly could not play the plays of previous centuries for being too frivolous and dealing with sex rather straightforwardly.

      2. Liberal = Freedom from religion, freedom from fascism, freedom from mind dogma of the right-wing.

        No freedom from the mind dogma of the left wing? Hmm… sounds a bit like a hyphenated freedom to me.

        1. No, you fool, Political Correctness means freedom for OTHERS who NEED it. Not for you. Your freedom doesn’t count.

      3. Freedom to be a total asshole towards people that don’t agree with you.

        The liberal hostility towards religion isn’t because they don’t like it when a pastor disapproves of premarital sex or abortion, it’s because religion directly competes with their statist/collectivist dogma.

        1. To a large degree, liberal hostility to Christianity is a legacy of previous centuries, transferred to the current generation as a tradition without deep understanding of its historical roots.

          In Europe of the 19th century, clergy was a powerful class with interests closely linked to those of nobility and royalty. They were, literally, the liberal’s enemies. In Austria, Spain or Italy (Papal states) even the nobility was more acceptable to the left than the clergy.

          These days are gone, but the dislike still resonates like an echo from the past.

          Notice that Islam does not provoke such a strong aversion, as it was largely absent from Europe in the 19th century, and as such isn’t part of the political historic baggage there.

          1. PC is the only reason Islam does not generate hostility. Euros, that is, whites, think it wrong to dislike anything non white or non western.

            We have no religion, euros say proudly, compared to you dumb americans. wrong. Europe is chock full of religion,increasing every day. It is not the christian religion. Europe, unless there is a drastic change, will end up an Islamic nation. Muslims are not giving up their religion.

            1. I am an Euro and I must say that you aren’t correctly informed.

              On the street-level, enmity of Euro natives to Islam is huge, much higher than in the USA. And this attitude seeps slowly, but surely into the political class. Most Euro nations use proportional principle in polls, which means that nativist parties can have huge impact in politics even with 15% of the vote. And they frequently get more. In countries like the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria or Finland, coalition governments are kept in power (or toppled) by precisely these parties, which are 100% anti-Islamic. Even Germany, with all its burden of historical self-doubt, seems to be on this path, only several years delayed (when compared, say, to Denmark).

              Maybe you draw your conclusions from English-speaking Britain, which is the most PC nation in Europe.

        2. “…religion directly competes with their statist/collectivist dogma.”

          The Catholic church advocates statism/collectivism. See the encyclical “Populorum Progressio” (On the Development of Peoples). It contains gems such as

          “But it is unfortunate that on these new conditions of society a system has been constructed which considers profit as the key motive for economic progress, competition as the supreme law of economics, and private ownership of the means of production as an absolute right that has no limits and carries no corresponding social obligation.”

      4. wrong, shrike. most cultures die out. liberalism was invented by the west about one minute ago ,in evolutionary terms. it is still in its infancy.
        most peoples are not interested in the conduct that leads to liberal results and mass prosperity. they want the money and the goods, but want to keep their old culture at the same time

  8. What ever happened to a fair trial?

    1. What ever happened to a fair trial?

      It went the way of the Dodo and the 4th Amendment…

  9. @Captain Holly: pretty much all Bollywood-movies are musicals. I recall that if a Bollywood movie doesn’t have at least 5 songs in it, viewers feel ripped off.

    1. With Shiela and Munni dancing around, 5 songs should be the bare minimum!

  10. Kind of like America in the ’50s with the rise of rock n’ roll and teen idols like James Dean.

  11. *facepalm*

    Don’t kill terrorist leaders and dispose of the corpse. Do you not realize what it’s going to look like when the body can’t be identified? Capture and Trial are better publicity in the long run.

    The Peacenicks are just gonna think Obama is an asshole. and the conspiracy tea party folks are gonna think it was a hoax.

    1. That would be one giant, kangamaroo court.

      It’s probably of less hassle to everyone involved just to cap UBL; the documentation is definitely there — the evidence will be released sooner or later.

      1. The experience from the Nuremberg trials says that it is better to “cap” evil systems formally. The materials from Nuremberg are there to study for further generations.

        1. Marian, the Nuremberg trials followed the surrender of Nazi Germany. How long would we have to wait for Bin Hidin’ to surrender?
          And just what makes you think his hairfarmer hordes would go along with it?

  12. and Stephen Harper is re-elected Prime Minister of Canada.

    1. @daveweigel Iggy forcing a no confidence vote has to be the stupidest political move since… uh… Augustus losing the 13th legion?

    2. He’s not on the Royal Wedding stamps Canada Post keeps pushing on me when I try to track a package from the Frozen North.

      You guys have a town named “Dildo” lol

      1. They also have much healthier finances than the US.

        If I was an American, I could put up with a Dildo in every state – if it meant that federal debts got into Canada-like order.

        1. Located under America’s armpit, replete with a thousand man army, a four plane air force and zero navy, federal debt and a socialist healthcare system would be quite manageble methinks.

          1. I believe you underestimate politicians’ ability to mismanage finances.

            There is a lot of nations in the world that are a) covered by American power, b) still able to run deadly deficits.

            Also, Canada’s geographic location doesn’t make it likely to be target of an enemy invasion; so them keeping only moderate forces is actually sound economical decision.

            1. Who said it wasn’t?

              I was simply pointing out the “geographic location” meant it was highly unlikely that for 75 years the Rusky Bear would trundle down the land bridge and occupy the maple leaf because of the USA, and the debt amassed there providing that very deterrent. I simply perceived a bit of disingenuousness in the tenure of your comments.

  13. Entertainment Tonight – first segment, a story on OBL’s death.

    This is entertainment because…?

  14. Great piece, Shikha. India’s the future, not China. Bollywood will lead the way.

  15. People were dancing and cheering at the white house because someone was killed? Glad to see we’ve come a long way on the evolutionary scale.

    fuckin’ disgusting.

    1. A positive genetic change happens in 1 in 1000000000000000000000, meaning we will see worse in the future

    2. Something about that struck me as wrong. Grotesque and unreflective. A completely futile expression. An excuse to party and get drunk and chant “USA!” without an international hockey tournament in sight and nary a thought to why we’re so moved to gather and chant and celebrate.

      1. Actually, the World Ice Hockey championships are going on over in Slovakia right now.

        The USA defeated mighty Norway yesterday 4-2.

        1. Indeed. I caught part of the game against Austria the other night. I’m not sure our demonstrating brethren were as consumed.

      2. We’re a big, complex country ~ there will always be segments of it reacting in some sort of “inappropriate” manner to any Big News.

        Frankly, I didn’t think those jubilant crowds were all that large.

    3. punk, it’s called free speech.
      not so popular when it’s something the idiot left don’t like.
      and it’s a lot more respectable than the clowns who riot and set police cars on fire over some harebrained idiotic political posturing.

  16. Eye opening! This is one of the best Reason TVs I’ve seen.

  17. Idon’t think that when people grow up, they will become morebroad-minded and can accept everything. Conversely, I think it’s aselecting process, knowing what’s the most important and what’s theleast. And then be a simple man

  18. I think people are just interested in the radical Islam culture

  19. I find India’s culture very interesting since it’s something new to me and guess other people also do-that’s why Bollywood films will always be attractive.

  20. I love this article!

  21. Tell me why delusional cow-fuckers are so fucking important?

    1. Because the Britishers colonized them for over 100 years and kept fucking their cows and made them miserable. Now slowly they are slowly recovering and getting a chance to fuck again…one cow at a time. Soon they will get their nation’s lost glory back…and become the world leader again…. Long live cow fuckers!!!

  22. All men are endowed by their creator, whoever they conceive it to be, with certain inalienable rights among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Magna Carta set Europe on it’s head and once people realized they could choose their own spouse and not have him/her thrust upon him/her in the name of financial gain, consolidation of power or to keep some marauding coward of pigs from invading them, the game was over. Islam and the East are similar to the guy running to catch the bus, he knows he is late, but he has to bomb the bus to show his puerile attitudes.

  23. I know nothing about Bollywood. Where do I begin?

  24. I like the ideas in this video but there’s also the fact to consider that most Bollywood movies for many years have NOT been made about the typical Indian or Pakistani family. They are nowadays geared explicitly towards Non-resident Indian (NRI) communities and feature families living in the US, England, Australia or similar places with large diasporic populations. How does that factor in?

  25. Bollywood and hollywood, which one you like more?

  26. I don’t know

  27. Bollywood and hollywood, which one you like more?
    I like hollywood.

  28. Bollywood and hollywood, which one you like more?
    I like hollywood.

  29. Bollywood and hollywood, which one you like more?
    I like hollywood.

  30. I like Bollywood.

  31. I like hollywood more.

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