‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ No truer words have been spoken ever since Peter Parker first heard his uncle utter them. Indeed a powerful sentence, it is not restricted to super heroism alone! In all seriousness, we writers are indeed an arrogant lot who can pompously boast about the mighty power of the pen, but can almost readily forget what our responsibility truly is.
In Pakistan, a large number of the enlightened class is generally of the opinion that the religious community is out to put a stop to free thinking. That may not entirely be false (to say the least!). Nonetheless, most of us also fail to get the bigger picture. Case in point, a recent blog posted on Pakistan’s leading English newspaper Dawn. The illuminating ‘satirical’ piece is written by Dawn.com’s editor which basically talks about how the country is going downhill with the onslaught of Western ‘evil’ agenda through Pakistani fashion industry. After a sardonically vitriolic tirade again the West, the gentleman posts pictures of models in attires which indignant Maulvis (religious scholars) will most certainly term as a taboo.
The subject of fashion has always had a peculiar notoriety attached to it. While the Victorians and Edwardians exploited fashion for class stratification (the crème de la crème wearing the ‘high sewing’ couture and the poor owning ragged castoffs), it also led to the creation of a global cult enchanted by the glitz and glamour of the cinema who scampered to access all things fashionable.
While interviewing CEO Patrick Chalhoub of Chalhoub Group – a leading lifestyle and luxury conglomerate, for a magazine I was actually inspired with what he said. Talking about Luxury, he commented: “Luxury is all about reaching for or attaining something that you aspire. Luxury could be your time or even a perfume. But it should have the qualification of what you actually desire. I disagree with people who say luxury has no value. Of course we can live without it; but can you live without dreaming? Having said this, even expensive things need to have substance, a story and value in order for it to be true luxury.”
This holds true for the fashion industry as well. But here the next question arises – what does fashion and its industry actually stand for, especially in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh etc? Elegantly, preposterously or scantily clad models on the runway or the fact that this sector is the bread and butter of millions of workers toiling day in and day out to make the perfect attire?
It was just last month that local Pakistani newspapers bewailed Disney’s ban on Pakistani imports mainly because of poor governance standards. In other words, ill treatment of the workers and non-compliance of international labor standards. According to the report, Disney’s decision has stripped Pakistan of $200-million exports of textile products.
In a press release, the US company stated: “We have made this change to more effectively focus on our resources, better manage the supply change for Disney-branded products and meet our standards on a more reliable and consistent basis in locations more likely to make continuous improvements in working conditions.”
What does this actually mean? The power of the media if fully ‘exploited’ can most certainly trigger positive nationalistic activities, political Tsunamis and creation of the Arab Spring, if you will. Time is running out, are we really that eager to write epic elegies about non-issues or redundant topics of literally no importance in the real world? Or should we as responsible citizens of the world invest our energies in highlighting social justice, human insecurities and abuses.