The Darjeeling Limited: Movies, India and Self-Discovery

Jonah Weiner has a very good essay in Slate about race relations in The Darjeeling Limited, the new Wes Anderson movie opening in New York this weekend. You should read the whole thing, but Weiner’s point can be summed up with “beware of any film in which an entire race and culture is turned into therapeutic scenery.”

There have been books, movies, and pop songs about Westerners traveling to India to find spiritual enlightenment before, of course. There’s City of Joy (Patrick Swayze goes to Calcutta), The Razor’s Edge (Bill Murray climbs the Himalayas), and After the Wedding (a Danish film about the manager of an Indian orphanage.)

SNL’s Amy Poehler did a fantastic interview with BUST Magazine last year where she discussed the limited roles out there for female comedians. Poehler began asking her agent to send her scripts that were written for men.

What I’ve been doing now is getting my agents to send me scripts that are written for guys. Because sometimes when guys write for women, they freeze up. I had this friend who said he had trouble writing for women, and I said, “Here’s my advice: call the guy Larry the whole time, and at the end change it to Susan. ‘Cause there’s no difference, really.”

Maybe if screenwriters follow Poehler’s advice there will finally be two-dimensional minority characters on screen. ‘Cause there’s no difference, really.


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