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East is East film - scenes of DV

(72 Posts)
BootyMum Wed 24-Aug-11 22:00:46

East is East was on tv the other night. It is an amusing film and I was enjoying it until it suddenly crossed into quite dark and disturbing territory with what seemed to me to be an abrupt change of gears. This was the scene of the previously loving husband beating the crap out of his wife and one of his adult sons.

Previous to this event the Pakistani husband and English wife had seemed to have a loving and equal relationship. The husband pontificates about being the head of the household, his wife is not in the least cowed and gives back as good as she gets. He seems to enjoy the verbal sparring and the couple seem to have a vibrant and mutually respectful relationship. They are also shown as having an intimate and sexual relationship.

However, the husband is both disappointed and enraged when his sons refuse to marry the Pakistani origin brides that have been chosen for them. His wife stands up for her sons and the husband punches her repeatedly in a frankly deranged attack. She is left bruised and battered.

This is a shocking scene. However what makes it worse is that the wife, although angry is cowed and becomes submissive to her husband's will. She in turn becomes infuriated by her sons resistance to their father's dictats and tells them they must respect their father and her husband whilst they live under his roof. In one of the final scenes she offers her husband a cup of tea and it seemed to me to be her offering an olive branch to the husband who had been disappointed in her.

Now I know this movie was set in the 1970s and attitudes to DV may have been very different then. But still I was very shocked and saddened how a feisty and confident woman was so "punished" by her husband and this was excused in the context of his disappointment and distress at the situation his family was in.

I felt this film normalised DV within a apparently loving relationship. Prior to this the film had been a light hearted look at a cross culture clash but suddenly became something quite unpleasant and horrifying [the DV] but only the husband's and sons perspectives were explored in the context of the plot.

It left a nasty taste in my mouth. Apologies if this is a bit of a ramble but I was just wondering if anyone else felt the same as me or had any thoughts on this? I have seen that the husband and wife characters are still together in the forthcoming sequel and I guess that I just feel disappointed that the DV was brushed over in the original and that there appears to be no ramifications [wife leaving] in the sequel. I feel this sends out a disturbing message about what is acceptable and normal in an otherwise supportive and happy relationship.

LynetteScavo Wed 24-Aug-11 22:13:23

I feel it was a realistic portrayal of family dynamics in 1970.

The film wasn't made to let people know that if DV happens they should leave the violent person. That wasn't the point of the film. We can't pretend such situations never happened because it might normalise it for people.

FreudianSlipper Wed 24-Aug-11 22:24:03

i disagree i feel it was a very good portrayal of family life in the 70's especially the cultural differences (reminds me of my family), the husband desperately wanted to keep to traditions and not lose face and the pressure put on the family to do this

and not all women who are in dv situations are submissive but she gave in to keep the peace some just accept that it is part of the relationship and do not move on

dv was hardly addressed at all then

AnyFucker Wed 24-Aug-11 22:29:14

Yes, it made me very uncomfortable

But I agree with the previous posters it depicted a situation common of the time and culture

I don't know just about the 1970's though...unfortunately these kinds of scenes are still being played for real across the UK every day sad

LynetteScavo Wed 24-Aug-11 22:30:52

BootyMum. You seem surprised that a feisty confident woman would experience DV in the first place, and then not leave her abuser.

BootyMum Wed 24-Aug-11 22:42:04

Yes, I realise that this situation occurs in everyday life and possibly depicted a situation common of the time and culture...

However in this film it just seemed profoundly uncomfortable...

I think because prior to this the film had seemed to be a situation comedy. Then it was suddenly in gritty territory depicting serious DV [not "just" a slap but repeated punching]. However the ramifications of this were never explored and thus to me seemed to be brushed under the carpet.

i don't know, it just feels like irresponsible film making somehow. Something about introducing serious DV into a comedy and then carrying the plot forward as if the DV doesn't really matter or doesn't have any negative long term effect upon the couple relationship.

And also didn't really ring true for the previous depictions of the characters. Was he really such a monster, would she really have been so submissive?

As a woman the situation did not ring true to life in an emotional context and I resent DV being treated so flippantly.

LynetteScavo Wed 24-Aug-11 22:47:18

It rang very true to me.

I guess it depends on what your life experiences are.

BootyMum Wed 24-Aug-11 22:47:30

Lynette - my surprise is more around how this serious issue was shoe horned into a light comedy on Pakistani and English culture clash. And then not treated with the seriousness it deserved.

Sorry, it's getting late and I'm not sure I am making much sense or arguing my case very well...

Birdsgottafly Wed 24-Aug-11 22:48:17

East is East depicted aspects of the problems faced when to settling into a different culture, in a humorous way. This allowed it to reach a wider audience.

I am in my fourties (so growing up in the seventies) and there was a lot of DV around, it was seen as part of life, in the area that i lived in (northern wc).

I have family who have worked all their lives in Bradford etc and mix extensively with both those from Asian/mixed/white backgrounds. I know of no-one who criticised the film. It was an acurate portrail of how life was for some, obviously exagerated. We cannot re-write history. I think that it is a good thing to show how things were. I have always used them as a debating point with my DD's.

Birdsgottafly Wed 24-Aug-11 22:51:46

The DH wasn't 'a monster' and she wasn't 'submissive', the sad fact was if you got out of line you could expect a slap (or more) and you got on with it.

Any other portrail would have been a lie, the law wasn't in place to deal with DV. The neighbours wouldn't have got involved. She couldn't have left, she couldn't have told him to leave.

Hassled Wed 24-Aug-11 22:53:40

For some reason I thought the husband/father hated himself for the DV. Yes, I know that doesn't make it alright, but it was all part of his difficulties with adjusting to the cultural changes/pressures. Wiki says:

" When George later sees the desecrated items, he assaults Maneer, ironically the only one who follows George's strict rules, for refusing to tell him the culprit. Ella stands in between the two, greatly angering and confusing George, who expected her to instinctively agree with him like a "proper Muslim wife". She tells him that his pig ignorance has caused the alienation of his children, the reason that they are so much "trouble" to him. George, however, does not understand this clearly and only hears it as Ella calling him a pig, a terrible insult to a Muslim. His uncontrollable rage turns on her and he beats her badly."

And at the end, don't the children and wife get together against George? The wife's rapprochement is part of an acknowledgement that George is broken, that he knows he's failed and that his tactics, including the DV, were wrong.

It's a good film - a complicated film - and I think it does try to portray the pressures in the 70s that a family like that must have been under. I don't think it ever makes the DV seem OK - and the characters, even George, acknowledge that. It's part of his disintegration.

fartmeistergeneral Wed 24-Aug-11 22:53:55

I don't think the film necessarily is a 'light comedy'. I thought there was darkness all the way through, with comedy moments.

The husband/father came across to me as very unpredictable in any case, so when I first saw the film and the beating, it didn't shock me, I could see that it would be part of her life.

The film isn't about DV - it didn't need to explain her position or delve deeper. It made it clear that no matter how big a personality she was, no matter how confident she appeared, this abuse had happened before and would most likely happen again.

BootyMum Wed 24-Aug-11 22:58:43

Birdsgottafly - perhaps then I am looking at this through modern eyes and missing the cultural/historical context...

I know there was a couple of scenes where the wife was shown with a great big black eye and split lip and everyone seemed to ignore it. It felt as if the filmmakers were brushing over it but perhaps really this was a reality of the time and place as you say...

I am somewhat shocked then that things have changed so much in society then in the last 40 years! Generally I cannot imagine that situation occurring today where a woman sits with a black eye and people are too polite/afraid to mention it...

fartmeistergeneral Wed 24-Aug-11 23:00:08

Well, you would hope not - but 40 years is a very long time ago and things have changed significantly (not 100%, but certainly moving in the right direction I hope).

AnyFucker Wed 24-Aug-11 23:00:58

really, bootymum ?

You think that DV doesn't get ignored/minimised/brushed under the carpet even today ?

fartmeistergeneral Wed 24-Aug-11 23:02:24

surely not to the same extent AnyFucker?

LynetteScavo Wed 24-Aug-11 23:02:47

You feel the DV wasn't treated with the seriousness it deserved. That's because DV wasn't treated seriously in 1970.

Men were violent. Women got up and made breakfast the next day and made an excuse about walking into a door. The effect of the DV was that the mother then took the fathers side to try to create harmony in the family. So I think the effects of the DV were shown in a realistic way.

I agree with Birdsgottafly.

AnyFucker Wed 24-Aug-11 23:08:09

No, not accepted to the same extent, fartmeister (may I call you that, btw ? smile )

But still minimised, still the societal pressure for women to "get over it" for the "good of the family unit", still skirted around for fear of embarassing others

Some things haven't been stamped out

BootyMum Wed 24-Aug-11 23:08:20

No AF, I do realise it gets ignored/minimised/brushed under the carpet in RL.

But I guess again for me it was something about the film seeming like a light comedy, suitable for all ages, Friday night with popcorn...

And then it moved into something more gritty and real. But it left me feeling this aspect hadn't been addressed or resolved. In RL I understand that this is not always possible but in the context of this particular film I felt it didn't give enough gravity to the issue of DV.

Again sorry if I am being unclear and not addressing this myself particularly well... But it is more about the issue of DV being part of this particular movie and less about the issue of DV itself IYSWIM?

Birdsgottafly Wed 24-Aug-11 23:08:58

OP in all fairness if you haven't lived through it then you don't realise how bad things were. It was accepted on all levels, personally, culturally and structurally (Neil Thompson PCS Model). I argue all the time in AIBU as to why the equality laws were needed and political correctness has made life better.

DV isn't ignored in the same way, it might be personally but not so much the other two.

AnyFucker Wed 24-Aug-11 23:09:14

When we get music videos glamourising DV like Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie", then you realise we still have a long way to go

fartmeistergeneral Wed 24-Aug-11 23:10:28

No denying there's a long way to go...

AnyFucker Wed 24-Aug-11 23:10:46

I see what you are saying, OP, of course

Birdsgottafly Wed 24-Aug-11 23:12:11

I do understand what you mean but the film couldn't address Dv in any other way other than to gloss over it because as i said, it was glossed over.

It has only been recently that DV has flagged up on SS radar.

Birdsgottafly Wed 24-Aug-11 23:14:51

AF i have had some of the best conversations with teenagers, on life, as a result of Eminems lyrics, they can serve a purpose.

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