FRONT PAGE / POSTS
by Hamsini Shivakumar| New Delhi, India
Monday, 28 June 2010
tags: asia, clients & brands, culture, global vectors, making sense
The stupendous success of IPL demonstrates the transformation of cricket from sport to pure entertainment. Every piece of the IPL mix has contributed to making it a heady cocktail of money, power, sport and glamour on a never-seen-before scale.
Into this mix has been dropped a piece of exotica imported from America, cheer leaders as an additional source of glamour and entertainment. From the moment they arrived in IPL 1, they generated controversy. Their skimpy attire and sexy dance movements, performed live and telecast in real time to millions raised the ire of the culture custodian political parties. There is also controversy around the fact that these are white American girls who have been flown in all the way from the USA, to dance and perform at the IPL matches. The Indian blogosphere is buzzing with views both for and against and every single viewer of IPL has an opinion on them. Simply put, they are a feature of IPL that cannot be ignored.
The level of controversy surrounding the introduction of cheer leaders means that what these girls signify to the average Indian viewer of IPL on TV is controversial. Clearly they do not signal wholesome fun, celebratory enjoyment and good cheer as they do in American basket ball games. Through their attire and sexy dance display, they suggest the insertion of a live version of the Bollywood “Item Number” (cabaret routine) into the game. This blatant insertion of sex to sizzle up the game of cricket in its avatar as entertainment has riled all audiences, from cricket purists and fans to culture guardians.
What about the future role for cheer leaders in the next IPL seasons? Some predict that cheer leading as a feature will wither away as a passing fad, as they are extraneous to the game. Others wish to build a group of Indian girls as cheer leaders and recruit them through a reality TV show and contest.
If indeed, the financial and marketing might of the IPL succeeds in creating a new occupation for young women – cheer leading, what could cheer leaders really signify? In a modernizing society like urban India, would they be a symbol of empowered women who exercise their personal choice to successfully market themselves for personal gain? Or would they have traded positions from being men’s possessions and slaves to sexual commodities being provided for men’s titillation and pleasure?
© Hamsini Shivakumar 2010