Ban “Sita Sings the Blues” from the Internet!

Seriously, I could use the publicity. What would happen if thousands of people signed this petition? Has a movie ever been banned from the Internet before? I want to see how it’s done. You can leave a message with your signature. They only have 367 so far – do your part, people.

38 comments to Ban “Sita Sings the Blues” from the Internet!

  • William Brown

    I just saw Sita sings the blues on a DVD we rented from NetFlicks. I agree, I’m glad I saw the movie on our oversized screen. I loved it! Thank you for being so fun, creative, and sensitive to the underlying story. Bill

  • Richenda

    Well, looking at the comments, it’s clear what you have to do. Make another film about another religion! “What if she did this about Christianity or Islam!?”

    Go for it, Nina! And remember, they all but dared you to be an equal opportunity offender.

  • Scott

    I ban, you ban, we all ban for

  • melissa

    This film is fabulous! There is no offense here…it is impowering!!!! Beautifully done in all aspects. I just bought 4 dvds and three shirts! Brava, Nina Paley!

  • Friendless

    If you need any help with “Jumpin’ Jesus and the Three Day Jive” please let us know.

  • Rich

    Congratulations! You know you’ve really got something interesting when people want to ban your work on behalf of a whole religion.

  • Amit

    Dear Fellow Indian Friends With Negative Comments,

    Listening to all the negative comments on this movie I feel like our culture and religion are not the same one that I grew up in. Have you people making all these negative comments watched the whole animated
    production? Are you people completely devoid of any sense of humor? The Indian people that I have always been around and that I have met never displayed such open hostility towards criticism of the Hindu religion. I have personally had many interesting conversations about the Ramayana and Mahabharata with Indian people like me, where more than a little bit of irreverence was used to denigrate the motives of the characters and even the Gods. I remember people laughing and no effigies.

    I think that many people in my religion have mistaken Hinduism for other religions where it is common not to criticize parts of it because it is considered sacrilege. Hinduism is littered with thinkers and philosophers who challenged our religion to rise up and change over our long history using more than just non-controversial statements and positions. This little production does not even come close to the criticism that even recent Indian thinkers have leveled at their own religion. At its worst it is an irreverent look at the Ramayana. In fact watching it for even a little bit made me feel that the producer was in fact making this with a not so well hidden affection for Indian culture and Indian people.

    The movie was not only entertaining and hilarious but I thought that it might help younger generations of Indians connect with Indian culture. Now that they have seen this maybe their curiosity will make them read the actual Ramayana or at least an abridged version.

    If you want to protest then protest the lack of arts and culture in Indian schools and colleges and the incessant focus on technical knowledge over cultural knowledge so prevalent in India. I hope this controversy gets more people to watch what I consider to be a great accomplishment in art and culture both Western and Eastern.

    Sincerely,
    Amit

  • No publicity is bad publicity. Being dubbed “offensive” is priceless criticism, as lots of people will be eager to check out this new, “offensive” film they’ve heard of. Worked great for “South Park”.
    Maybe I’ll sign the “ban it!” petition, leaving a note that I sent away for the dvd (true) and that the dvd will have a higher resale value on ebay if it’s not on the ‘net. (I won’t add that I intend to keep it forever.)

  • Unni

    Ha ha classic: “It begins with a semi-nude Goddess Lakshmi emerging from the sea and dancing on tune of a ‘Blues’ song.”

    This is definitely one of those, lest kick up a fuss because Hindus are confused about their Victorian prudishness that was installed in them by the British. Or that of right wing Americans, one or the other… which ever values of the coloniser du jour.

  • reeze

    Two replies I got to an angry email I sent to the BAN SITA SINGS THE BLUES petition group –
    it is my first official hate mail ;)

    Dear xyz,
    I am not sure you are the nut who made ‘Sita sings the blues’. If you are, you make me and a lot of us sick.
    I can’t understand why everyone wants to pick on Hindu scriptures. Why don’t you criticize the Muslims? They treat women like slaves Muslim women are not even allowed to walk through the streets showing their face. Little girls are sold to old guys as brides. They buy and sell women just like commodities in today’s world. Yet cowards like you do not have the guts to say anything. You prefer to criticize Hindu scriptures because we do not burn you.
    I hate you and you are a shame and disgrace to all.

    Please be aware that we do not agree with the free floating, wild and blanket freedom of expression and that it has any meaning or value. It is same and equal to lawlessness. Like the lawlessness can not be free floating wild and blanket freedom of expression can not be allowed.

    We the group you are referring to are the followers of Ved i.e. gyan or knowledge and not of any illiterate individual called prophet who never went to school and for own lust started a religion filled with crookedness cruelty and criminality.

    Where as ved gyan has been nurtured by many –many studied, learned and knowledgeable people called Rishis , maharishis, brahm rihsis etc who studied their subject for hundreds of years and written their treatise.

    According these treatise there is one freedom as regards to speech and it is called satyam vad , i.,e speak the truth . Meaning is according to Veda and Vedic treatise there is only….and only and…..only a freedom but to speak the truth. And truth only …Same applies to other forms of expressions. There is no freedom to speak some thing new , some thing different if it is not truth . we don’t violate this rule and we will not allow others to do so .
    this story of misreis was the creation of the stupidy that indians started following from other cultures . so was the story of other cultures in the medvial period . no culture was any better . so dont learn only of indian bad situation in those times learn about bothers and you will find the same

    Do u understand this ????? if not please write back and we shall explain you further.

  • Bob Kennedy

    When he made “Nuns on the Run,” Robbie Coltrane was informed by an indignant critic “Do you realize you’ve just offended half the people in the world with this film?” Coltrane replied “Yes, and if we had the budget we’d offend the other half as well!” Props to you for helping close the gap!

  • Jeff Weiner

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? What’s with these people?

    I will not sign this petition, Nina. It’s an indictment of your creativity, and it’s wrong! No publicity is worth the hateful things said on the petition site.

  • Sita Sings the Blues well

    The Hindu fanatics cry hoarse, you can tell

    The chauvinists…they all fell

    All’s well that ends well

  • dagfooyo

    MattyJ – the link to your petition didn’t work for me! I hope you’ll fix it, if not I might start my own.

    I guess it’s a sad but inevitable fact that no matter how enlightened a culture at large may be, there will always be people so closed-minded, so sure they’re right, and hateful towards anyone who tries to say differently. And with no sense of humor at all! These people I guess are the Hindu equivalent of the watchers of Fox News.

    I was tempted to sign the petition just so I could put a message in front of the other signers – “lighten up people, get a sense of humor! This is art and it’s beautiful, and it’s celebrating Hinduism in its own irreverent way.” But I just couldn’t bring myself to sign it, even ironically, even if it’d mean more publicity for Nina.

    Anyway, Nina you rock! I hope you get lots of publicity from this :-)

  • Zenia

    It’s an awesome movie!! Bravo!!

  • Looks like they just removed it. That’s either sad or a total victory, not sure which.

  • Pooja

    Just watched your film…very interesting but I have a few qualms…

    Having grown up in a religious Hindu family, I’m fairly versed in our scriptures, but I am a young Indian American and still open-minded with a sense of humor. That being said, I can understand that this is a work of art meant to be taken with a grain of salt.

    What bothers me is more that those who are not well versed in our scriptures may hold this film to be more valuable in the knowledge it provides than what is really true…I’m curious to know how you adapted the literature you read about the Ramayan (btw, the letter “a” which has been added to the ends of all of our Gods/Stories/Scriptures-Ram, Ravan, Mahabharat, etc.- is not the true pronunciation and I would have given you more street cred had you not included it all over the film!) to these sort of odd side stories…

    I do commend the creativity and different viewpoint on this ancient scripture, however I fear that it may be too misleading to those who are not as knowledgeable. Unfortunately, not everyone in our society is willing to go that extra mile and read the literature or do any sort of extended research on their own.

    I wouldn’t go so far to ban your film, and I’m certainly not a radical Hindu fanatic…but I also wouldn’t completely ridicule all those that oppose the film…I’m assuming you expected some sort of backlash from the Hindu audience…

    Nonetheless, the animation was awesome (and exaggerated haha) and it was an interesting parallel to your life!

    Cheers!

  • Prerna

    A big “pfffffffftttt” to the petition” wallas! Someone should petition against an absence of a sense of humour. I absolutely ADORED the movie!

  • Bill Benzon

    It’s still there, with 405 signatures.

  • (btw, the letter “a” which has been added to the ends of all of our Gods/Stories/Scriptures-Ram, Ravan, Mahabharat, etc.- is not the true pronunciation and I would have given you more street cred had you not included it all over the film!)

    Did you know India is a very big country where people pronounce things differently in different regions? Just because you pronounce Ramayan without the -a doesn’t make that the “true” pronunciation, it makes it a pronunciation. Likewise the Ramayana you grew up with isn’t “the” Ramayana, nor the “true” one. Lots of regions, lots of Ramayanas. The narrators are all native Indians and if you listen carefully you’ll notice they pronounce Ram(a), Ravan(a) and Ramayan(a) differently from one another. You don’t give me “street cred” for quoting Indians from regions you aren’t familiar with, but most Indians I’ve met know that their compatriots have pronunciations, languages, and traditions that differ from their own – and they respect those differences, rather than saying theirs alone is “true” and no others are legitimate.

  • Pooja,

    btw, the letter “a” which has been added to the ends of all of our Gods/Stories/Scriptures-Ram, Ravan, Mahabharat, etc.- is not the true pronunciation and I would have given you more street cred had you not included it all over the film!

    The ‘a’ is not enunciated in standard/spoken Hindi phonology (which is what you call “true pronunciation”, I guess). The ‘a’ is always pronounced in Sanskrit phonology. The Devanagri script itself has an implicit ‘a’ with every consonant. This is dropped for the final consonant in case of Hindi but not for Sanskrit.

    In effect, if we have to choose a “true pronunciation”, it would be wiser to pick Rama over Ram. But, then again, we’re all walking on thin ice when choosing “true” pronunciations for any language.

    Nina,

    Likewise the Ramayana you grew up with isn’t “the” Ramayana, nor the “true” one. Lots of regions, lots of Ramayanas

    Quite. In fact, there is a SE Asian Rmayana in which Ram and Sita are siblings, I hear.

    Super work on the movie, btw. :)

  • I fully agree with the petition. No organs of the human body—internal or external—should ever be depicted on the Internet.

  • natalia

    heresy, shmeresy… I like it!

  • ash

    Just watched this: LOVE it! And I plan to assign this to my students this semester. Thank you for your work, and for not letting the nay-sayers drag you down.

  • Who exactly is the “Boss of the Internet”? I have a long list myself but don’t know who to send it to.

  • vikash

    hi nina,

    i just seen your cartoon ‘Sita sings the blues’ and i was horrified to see that how you have misused your freedom of expression.
    You must be an good artist and you are free to express but at least you should not twist the facts and scripture just to make your movie nice.

    You played brutally with sentiments of a billion hindus,
    i have tears in my eyes and all i say is that its not good for a world where we all walk freely but bounded by the faith , feeling , sentiments and moral values.

    I strongly feel that you choose the subject quite intelligently , you selected a character which considered mother by hindus so you can abuse her character and get lot of attention also you were aware that hindus wont protest violently as muslims.

    regards
    Vikash

  • I read a little of the petition. It seems to be mostly men — and a lot of repeats with some signing 5+ times, so I’d say, maybe 100-300 unique people? It might make a fun time waster to find out.

    I’m in no way a standard bearer for anyone, but of the Brahmans I know, they love the film. You have not offended a billion people, many Hindus love it. I’m sure those that helped make it did too. Of course, someone’s going to be offended, no matter what you do.

    If you do go on to make a Christian film, will you have to have an immaculate conception so you can write a parallel to your own life first? Maybe you could just be persecuted. Wait, hold that thought.

    Cheers — the movie made my year,
    Urban

  • sujatha

    I had been meaning to see this film and finally rented it. I so wanted to love it–I think it’s a very interesting premise, and I was very impressed by Nina Paley’s visual representations. The use of Annette Henshaw’s music was also quite creative. As an Indian-American woman who grew up in a Hindu family, however, I was very disappointed by what felt like a very shallow portrayal of these complex issues.

    As an independent-minded woman raised in Hinduism, I’ve struggled with the issues that Nina is touching on in the movie–the Hindu ideal of the “perfect woman”, as epitomized by Sita, is “pure”, chaste, and completely faithful, and Sita is unquestioningly and completely devoted to Rama. Yet, for independent women in today’s society (both in India and in the States), this model of the perfect woman does not translate well. It harkens back to a time when the needs of one’s society, one’s family, and one’s husband took complete precedence over a woman’s individual needs. While there is something deep and profound to be learned about this respect for family and a higher order, this subordination of women’s needs shouldn’t be glorified. I found the comparison of Nina’s story to these complex social issues to be superficial at best and insulting at worst. She seems like just another Westerner who has selectively chosen a piece of Hinduism for her own needs without regard to the larger culture. The story of Sita is in many ways a story of the struggle of women in traditional India without financial independence and mired in poverty, to gain a voice for independence. Nina’s breakup with her husband, while I’m sure very painful, in no way compares to these complex issues.

    Nina also seemed to take the very superficial images of Hinduism common throughout Western culture (just visit any yoga studio) and bring them together in a very confused and often inaccurate way. While I would in no way be in favor of banning this movie (or any other depictions of “sacred” religious topics) I can completely understand why religious Hindus may be offended by her portrayal. I found the image of Rama kicking a pregnant Sita particularly insensitive (I don’t recall seeing this image in Valmiki’s or any other version of the Ramayana I’ve read–not sure if that’s just my recollection or if Nina actually made this up).

    I was also irritated by the lack of Lakshmana throughout the movie. I know Nina explains this away by stating that this was because she wanted her focus to be on the Rama/Sita story, but this in my opinion is a little bit too much poetic license–the portrayal of filial love and how it contrasts and compares to the romantic love between Rama and Sita is an essential component of the story. I think someone raised in a Western culture like Nina may not realize the integral role that these family relationships play in Indian culture, and it is a very Western adaptation to conveniently leave out the relationship between the brothers in favor of the more traditional love story.

    In any case, I know this post is extremely long–sorry! I think (like many), I’m particularly sensitive to the trivialization of Hindu imagery in American society, and I just wanted to add another perspective to the discussion…

  • Hi Nina,

    Sorry to know that your husband deserted you while in India. But that has nothing to do with India as a whole or as a tradition, it is more to do with that individual in his personal capacity. I touched upon this point as I found this being mentioned in many of the references to you.

    You appplied all your creativity, collected your hurt feelings and moulded them in the form of a highly misunderstood representation fashioned on Ramayana.

    You sound like shouting narrow mindedness in your approach and you look visibly reactionary.

    I would still welcome you to spend some more time in understanding Hinduism and have some open discussions with us. This will help you better appreciate what Rama and Sita stood for and what they mean to us.

    Regarding your enthusiasm to get banned, I would laugh it away. Why to ban something in the first place. In any case your concept is too epehmeral to survive the tests of time! Though, you would find that your work would be watched and discussed by many because you have in any case touched upon such a wonderful subject of Rama and Sita, the inherent beauty of their lives would impart some shine to your work in any case.

    Regards.

    Rajeev Dubey
    Vadodara, Gujarat, India

  • From what I understand the Ramayana story is told in many divergent forms, Nina’s being up-to-date and relevant to many contemporary men and women. In parts of India today, deviations of the epic are recited before phads which depict the battle on Lanka as an attempt to retrieve she-camels from Ravana. Do you object to that story too? During the reform movement of Hinduism in the Ganges plains, Ramafication of previous more female-oriented Hinduism elevated Lord Krishna and Lord Rama (Dalyrymple 95, 209). Maybe at the time the Ramayana was more appealing to Hindus, but there are still Devi cults that adhere to more ancient traditions. And today, Nina has brought the text to an audience for which the story, sans her interpretation, would be nothing more than a pretty tale of gods and monsters.

    Perhaps for women forced into marriage with no options save self-immolation, your version of the text is the most resonant. Likewise, perhaps for celibate ascetics who see Sita and Ram as always united in the spiritual realm, Sita’s fate is transcendent. For me, a fairly independent western woman who craves an equal relationship in this lifetime, both of those options suck.

  • Dion – I very occasionally publish troll comments for entertainment purposes only (like the beyond-textbook example of passive-aggression above). Please don’t feed the trolls – if you do, I’ll have to ban all of them. Anyone who wants to enjoy more of Rajeev’s aggression directly can reach him at rajeev.mailbox@gmail.com . Troll comments cease to be entertaining after (usually less than) one, so this is not a forum for trolls.

  • gunjan

    I saw the film and liked it, its definitely a great job done. I am an Indian women. Though I believe in concept of freedom of expression, I can probably understand that why many Hindus are fiercely against it. The reason lies in the fact that the movie raises many questions, answers of which are clear to Indians and may not be clear to rest of the world. Those who know Indian culture less may use this to interpret our culture rather than as a piece of entertainment. Here are the many ways the film questions Ram on his perfection as God and human being –

    1. Was fidelity of Sita really that important –
    Yes it was. Its like that even in so called modern times, or Elin would still be living with Tiger Woods.

    2. But why after the fire test was it right to suspect –
    Ram never had doubts, but as a king he could not afford people to question him for his sense of justice.

    3. So his throne was more important –
    No it wasnt, that’s why he left the throne so easily to be in the woods with his wife and brother. It is just that Hinduism advises to put duties above personal pleasures.

    4. Was it right to make Sita suffer for Ram’s duties –
    Sita got the pain of separation but so did Ram. Ram had to sacrifice the lovely wife he got back after extreme efforts. Moreover, Sita was not helpless after the separation. She brought up the children in the best possible way. In a truly feminist state, women not only have the claims to rights but also the power and ability to uphold themselves. This may be tough for today’s feeble feminists to understand.

    5. But Ram lost nothing but a wife –
    Well a wife is everything. Ram’s separation with Sita was symbolic and he never married after that. For a king in India or abroad, its important to have a heir. He knew he was losing that prospect as well.

    6. What was the logic behind Sita sacrificing her life in the end –
    She was in a spiritual dilemma. She could not refuse her beloved, when he requested her to come back. She could not go with him, as this could have initiated the practice of treating women as objects. She rather chose to die to live up to her virtues.

    Sita’s sufferings have nothing to do with women rights, but Ram and Sita suffered because life is never easy for truthful people. Thats the reason they are worshipped as Gods.

  • Rena

    I loved this film. Not only did I find it highly creative, but it helped me to understand a bit more about the story, while remaining light. It raised some contemporary issues in an intelligent, but not disprespectful way. I am a “gora” who has converted to Hinduism by choice because of the general tolerance I have found surrounding the faith. Namaste.

  • saurabh

    PURPOSE TO WRITE RAMAYANA – Later Vedic period in India witnessed moral degradation and classification of castes in Hindus which began to be assumed on birth basis ; While earlier it meant for work a person chooses. So it became inherent from ‘choice’.
    This patriarchial system in India found potential risks from active participation of women in Sabha/Samitis (Council). Folks decided to idealize an “ought to be” a Man’s character. Now observe the extremes of Patriarchy apart from story, when it was communicated that root cause of greater conflict is a woman. In ramayana it was seeta, in mahabharata it was Draupadi. Now controlling a woman became the synonym of masculine. Depiction of Seeta’s beauty is writer’s perversion. That is obvious. This further guided our Indian society to believe women as objects to be covered and used. Men are weak to control themselves, so they cover women. I find this work extremely in blues of sky.. Thoroughly enjoyable. Waiting for mahabharata..

  • saurabh

    No need to ban the awesome movie. I am a hindu but a human being first. Neither I am feminist, nor I am a fundamentalist. I am rationalist. Nina pointed out questions which are reasonable.
    It is demoralizing for anyone to be stopped from questioning what is evidently subject to be questioed. Purpose of any religion is “Effective Governance” by moral control. Central idea of Hinduism is Patriarchy and male dominance. Brahma the creator, Vishnu the Provider, Shiva the destroyer.. Where are ladies??? She will get a consolation 50% part in being shakti of Shiva the destroyer.. Hmmm Ladies are destroyer only ?? Or cause of disaster ?? As seeta led killings of thousands in Ramayana,Draupadi in Mahabharata.
    Secondly,
    Hinduism is not a religion ab initio. Residents near Indus were called hIndus. Ramayana/Mahabharata does not guide us because they are later vedic writings but Vedas do.
    Wait !! VEDAS DOES NOT SAY ABOUT ANY GOD/IDOL WORSHIP. RAMA DID IDOL WORSHIP,remember worshipping a shivaling before lanka march.
    That means Rama was not Aryan because Vedas don’t even mention about idols. But Ramayana says he was a kshatriya(Aryan Varna).
    My friends, moral stories are good to listen,just think and question
    You can ban a movie but not imprison ideas.
    Keep up good work Nina

  • george

    Absolutely one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen! As a long-time fan of Annette Hanshaw, just the music was a wholly adequate inducement for me to see “Sita Sings the Blues”. Comparative Theology was a required course at Loyola University a half century ago, but my recollections of 1960s classroom lectures could not even laughingly be cited as introducing me to Hinduism. This show combined the joys of hearing music performed by one of my favorite artists with the thrill of new learnings about one of the world’s great religions (admittedly not my religion — hence, “new learnings”).

  • blaze

    Alright..maybe the concepts in the movie is fine with the western culture..but it is definitely against the indian tradition/culture…we do not see Ramayana as a mere fairy tale.It is history and we have high respects for Lord Ram and Sita Mata…Of course it will be hard for westerners like Nina Paley to understand as in the west they barely have this concepts..Everyone is seen as a boyfriend or girlfriend….

    We are really offended with Nina showing scenes where Lord Ram kicks SIta Mata … Such things never happened.Sita Mata was never abused !!!! And in the movie it was asked if Sita Mata’s child was of Ravana ….. disgusting bitch Nina… You may claim that this story of yours has nothing to do with Ramayana,but you already have displayed wordings such -’adapted from Valmiki Ramayana’ in your movie..Please.. your stunkish movie is so not near the true history..Just because you put in effort to make a movie like that you deserve some award……

    I would like you to remove the movie from the net completely.

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