No matter how liberal you might be, if you’re a Pakistani, you will judge, like how I’m judging all Pakistanis right now. At least that’s what I’ve come to learn about this country.

But maybe I’m wrong, because, I haven’t really heard of any criticism or negative comments from the crowd that was actually present when those girls went flashmobing in the old Anarkali. The crowd seemed fascinated, but not necessarily judgmental.

It was only when the video made it to the Internet and got viral that judgments started pouring in. People said this wasn’t “female empowerment” and that the girls should be more aware of our culture; that they only managed to embarrass themselves and what not.

A lot of it might be true; I for one do believe that the video was poorly executed. The camera work could have been better, and the whole production seemed rushed, but that’s true for most Pakistani ads.

Despite all that, however, my only real complaint pertaining to the ad was that the dance could have been so much better. It just didn’t have the tightness one would expect from a flash mob that decided to hit Anarkali. It lacked the flair, the groove. It didn’t move anyone. I could be wrong though. Maybe most of the good moves were edited out by the unnecessary close up shots or that the girls became too conscious in front of the crowd or got tired after a couple of takes; there could be numerous reasons, it’s not easy pulling a flash mob in front of an Anarkali crowd. 

The point remains, however, that one would’ve expected these girls, who as I’ve come to know are from NCA’s dance society, to be amazing, especially if they’re dancing for a commercial. I mean, if they would have pulled off a captivating dance, the crowd in the video and the internet wouldn’t have had a WTF attitude towards the whole thing and might have simply been in awe of the sheer talent that exploded in the middle of that street.

But having said that, everyone seems to be missing an important anthropology at play here. You see for me, the video was never about feminism, or equal rights or whatever it is that’s trendy these days. If they wanted to show female empowerment, instead of coming together and dancing, they could’ve just rounded that dude and beaten the crap out of him while everyone watched. But they danced, thinking they were Michael Jackson and his gang about to blow away Wesley Snipes with their moves in the music video for ‘Bad’.

You see, for me, the video was about trying to bridge a gap, which I believe has become a pretty unbridgeable one. And I am very disgruntled by the fact that the video was taken off, because of our holier than thou, confused, and judgmental Pakistani social media community.

The gap I speak of is between the ‘Burger’ and the masses or the ‘dumb masses’. I won’t use the term ‘elite’ because a burger stands for something else. It’s not necessary that someone belonging to the elite class is a burger, and vice versa. I, for one, don’t consider myself one of the ‘elites’, but I am a burger nevertheless.

No one would have given a second thought about the impropriety of this video had the girls done a flash mob in a university, say, LSE, LUMS, NCA or BNU, but the fact that they went to the streets, our streets, where those people, those nasty smelly “jahil” locals with their dirty minds and their primitive culture and the way they speak and the way they spit and wander the streets, and their male gaze, and how they got a free “Mujra”, ticked people off.

All the hate had nothing to do with women empowerment, it’s just that those girls went out on the streets and did something burger, something that’s okay for them to do in their universities but not on the mean streets. Because you don’t go around acting burger in front of those people, you just don’t. Because somehow those people represent a more pure, less influenced form of our culture. You try to gel in by wearing a dupatta and pretending to speak fluent Punjabi, you try to act street smart, but never what you are. Why? Because somewhere deep down, us burgers feel that we’re incompatible with them, with their society. Because we’ve been raised differently, sheltered, pampered, provided with quality English medium education so much so that we have become alienated with our surroundings, so much that we strove to form our comfortable little burger circles, composed of people (more burgers) who understand us, who we can hang out with, drink with, be liberal, secular, intellectual, cynical and even blasphemous with. But we don’t really belong anywhere. Most of us would like to believe West is the answer, until we actually go and live there.

I liked the fact that that those daring girls went out there in those streets took off their dupattas and did something that’s pretty usual for them to do in their burger social circles. It gave me hope that one day it just might be okay for burgers to step out of their cars and roam Anarkali in their tight jeans and sleeveless shirts, just being themselves without giving a rats ass about what the “mujra” attending, ogling, perverted crowd might think. Perhaps that would help create a more coherent Pakistani society.

On another note, I don’t believe there was anything shameful or immoral about the video. I don’t get why people fall for infantile idiots *cough* ad mad dude *cough* who make everything an argument of what’s right and wrong, and impose their own understanding of what our culture is and what it isn’t. We are supposed to break the norms of the society because that’s what triggers and accelerates social evolution, even if it seems a little juvenile.

And while it’s true some individuals that may be part of that mob do harass women, majority of them are mostly respectful of them, and treat them like family. My sister is an NCA graduate so I have some idea how many times girls from NCA have to walk all the way to Anarkali to buy stationary and how welcoming and respectful the shopkeepers are. Perverts and a***oles exist everywhere, (not unlike the people who cyber bullied and harassed those girls to the extent that they had to take the ad down) but it’s never right to paint an entire social stratum with the same brush. If you stopped being judgemental and actually tried to interact with those people, you might be surprised by how liberal and open-minded they can be.