When you’re trying to dumbdown a defining aspect of your traditional culture, what better mentor to turn to than Uncle Sam?
The Washington Redskins cheerleaders were brought in to show India's cricket fans how to shake their pompoms — but not everyone was impressed.
The New Delhi team said [April 30] it was switching its cheerleaders for a band of drummers. Mumbai politicians have forced theirs to cover up, saying their performances were lewd and not appropriate for India's traditional culture.
The cheerleaders were flown in to give a touch of glamor to the Indian Premier League — a newly launched cricket tournament that brings together the sport's biggest international stars, million-dollar (euro) contracts, big business and celebrities.
Cricket in its purest form is a serene game that lasts five days and is played by men in white who take breaks for tea.
But the Indian Premier League presents a flashy, rapid-fire version that is played in just five hours under floodlights with players in colorful uniforms.
The league has been posited as a celebration of the new India: brash, confident, cosmopolitan and rolling in money from a decadelong economic boom.
[National sport as a sign of cultural change. Guess that explains the monster truck rally atmosphere seen at pro games in the U.S. these days.]
Indian liquor baron Vijay Mallya flew in the Redskins cheerleaders to boost his team, which he named after one of his whiskeys — the Bangalore Royal Challengers. Other team owners flew in troops of dancing beauties from Eastern Europe.
For a brief moment all was good. They whirled and bounced and cheered. Miniskirts flared and pompoms shook as cricket players batted balls out of the park.
[Unfortunately for the cheer- leaders and whiskey salesmen, the country isn’t completely “cosmopolitan” yet]:
The backlash began in Mumbai [two weeks ago] when lawmakers from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party pressed to get cheerleaders banned from the home games of the local team, the Mumbai Indians.
“See the pictures of these girls in the newspapers? This is not something you can allow inside your house, or something that you can look at in the presence of your sister or daughter,” said Nitin Gadkari, the Bharatiya Janata Party's president for the state of Maharashtra. Mumbai is its capital.
“It may be a good thing for America, for the U.S.A., it's not a good thing for India, for our kind of culture,” Gadkari said.
— “At cricket event, U.S. cheerleaders shake India's conservative values,” Associated Press article posted April 30 at sportsillustrated.com
Cultural imperialism’s new uniform. American cheerleaders in India