Why do we imitate?

Amal Chatterjee
12 min readJan 14, 2021

Source : Google photo of night club dancing

Synopsis : The blind imitation of the Western culture that contradicts your own values and traditions is something to be avoided unless you are rebellious of your own values. There is always something beautiful in your tradition of dance, music or some form of entertainment that has been practiced since a very long time so western imitation can never replace it.

We see a worldwide trend of countries in Asia , Latin America and even in Africa where people are blindly imitating the Western culture especially the culture of night clubbing, excessive drinking and resorting to very risky sexual behavior that is normally quite alien to their native culture.

This brings them in conflict with those who try to maintain their values and culture but find themselves fighting an uphill battle with the younger generation that imitates the western culture without any hesitation so the businessmen take advantage and set up night clubs and other venues where young people congregate to drink, dance and resort to risky sexual behavior all in the name of having a good time. Needless to say that the club owners make a lot of money so they do not care how people behave as long as they pay to have a good time.

At times things get out of hand and some people start a fight or a ruckus when they have too much to drink that leads to some destruction of properties that the owner does not like so he keeps a few musclemen who step in and stop the fight by taking the trouble makers by their cuffs and throw them outside. It does not matter to them if they continue the fight outside because that comes under the purview of the police that soon arrives and takes away the miscreants to teach them some manners that are in short supply at such places.

Women who go to such night clubs to have a good time often complain of the sexual harassment they suffer where they are groped by some bad boys who take the liberty when they are drunk or under the influence of drugs that are freely available so again the musclemen step in to control them before it really gets out of hand.

We observe that night clubbing , excessive drinking and engaging in risky sexual behavior has become a part of the Western culture that are now being exported to other countries where the young people see nothing wrong in having a good time after a hard day’s work or during the weekends.

When I was in college in California, the aggies with their stetson hats, cowboy boots and big buckle belts always reminded that it was the TGIF time meaning Thank God it is Friday time when they gathered somewhere to drink and dance that often ended in fist fights over some girls and breaking a few chairs but the venue owner took it as the cost of doing business and charged the miscreants double the price of broken chairs and glasses and raked in some extra bucks.

This TGIF culture was deeply rooted in their wild wild West past when the only place in their ramshackle miserable frontier towns was the saloon where the cowboys gathered, drank, gambled and went upstairs to cavort with whores who were grateful for some business. Often gun fights broke out between rivals over insults or perceived insults resulting in quite a few casualties, broken glass and chairs so the sheriff stepped in, arrested the miscreants and hanged them the next day in the public square that the town people came to see because justice was swift in those days and entertainment for the onlookers was always welcome.

So the saloon culture was born that made some money for the owner and gave some employment to the whores who gathered there from various parts of the country in search of some business. This is the staple of the Western cow boy movies in Hollywood that is widely imitated in other countries. The gun fights and the dead bodies was just the part of the charm of these hovels of dirt that attracted the rough and tough people who outnumbered the nice and decent people who enjoyed the hanging in their public squares because entertainment was rare in their towns.

If we fast forward to the present time, we notice that this penchant for a good time has evolved into the TGIF and other forms of entertainment giving birth to a whole new business opportunity for those who want to make money anyway they can so numerous joints are put up in some shady parts of their towns where they hire some musclemen to keep law and order to a tolerable level. The whores upstairs are gone but are replaced by amateur sexually liberated women who do not hesitate to go out with a stranger after a few drinks and groping to continue their fun somewhere else.

Such venues are the gathering places for the common as well as not so common people of shady characters who supply drugs to their clients there or mix some drugs into the drinks on the sly to some who are then taken advantage of later. Others gather there to discuss their business of illegal drugs, trafficking and other nefarious activities. Their goons keep a sharp eye on who comes to their joint especially if they are policemen on the look out for some free drinks.

There are several types of these night clubs depending on the types of clients they attract. I was cautioned by my French teacher in Washington, D.C. not to go to the place near my hostel that perked my curiosity so one day I went in, paid for an expensive glass of beer and saw a naked woman only in her panty gyrating on a table. The clients were all men some with beard, tattoos and rough clothes who were drooling and shouting obscene vulgar things at the poor girl who was only trying to make a few dollars to pay for her rent. The whole place reeked of stale beer, smoke and vulgarity that disgusted me so I walked out and realized that my French teacher was right after all and I should never have gone there.

Then there are more fancy places where a band plays on the stage where a naked or nearly naked woman wraps her legs around a shiny pole to do what they call pole dancing while men shout insults at her while gulping down their beer or liquor. Some even get excited after some drinks and try to climb onto the stage to grab the poor woman so at that point the musclemen come in to cool them down that may require taking them by their cuffs and throwing them out.

I remember walking the streets near Pigalle in Paris where the touts will try to pull your hand saying naked women are on show so come on in. This sort of sordid joints appeal to those who get excited just looking at the naked women while others go there out of curiosity. The Amsterdam night clubs go a step further where women do sinful things that I will not elaborate here for the sake of decency.

These so called night clubs offer variety of services to their clients who are mostly men who have nothing better to do than to go out and drink until they can’t walk so I call them sorry people who are shallow with low level of education lacking sophistication, manners and taste.

There was a small town in Texas where the criminals opened up a sinful place to cater to sinful people so the town folks were very angry that such a place was corrupting their folks and the youth so they complained to the sheriff to shut the place down. The sheriff then raided the joint and smashed the liquor bottles and trashed the place that did not sit well with the owner who was a mafia man.

The sheriff also outlawed all the whore houses that had come up to cater to a growing clientele so that too was opposed by the owners who did not like to be deprived of their lucrative source of income so they planned to kill the sheriff. The sheriff had a sport car that he liked to run at high speed but one day his brakes failed that crashed his car and killed him on the spot. This led to the resurgence of the shady places once again. This is a true story that was made into a Hollywood movie later.

Now I come to the night clubs that are sprouting like mushrooms everywhere that attract men, women, boys and girls and the in betweens who gather there to drink and dance often with strangers because they are lonely and need a venue that provides them some excitement. The club usually has a high dais or platform where a fellow called disc jockey plays loud music that he modulates by scratching the LP on the player back and forth exciting the crowd below into a frenzy. These DJs are highly paid for their talent to scratch the discs and putting up a good show. To make the joint more exciting, they use fireworks, blinking colored lights that rotate on a big ball hanging from the ceilings. They also have numerous night clubs especially for the LGBTQ crowd.

There was such a joint in Manila where young people gathered one night to celebrate something or other and were drinking and dancing like there was no tomorrow not knowing that literally there was going to be no tomorrow for them. The place had one narrow door to enter that opened only from outside into the club. Soon the firework and overheated wires caught fire that burned swiftly the very flammable ceiling material turning the whole place into a blazing inferno. By the time the revelers realized the danger they were in, it was too late. They frantically tried to push the door open to escape but the door could only be pushed in from outside so more than 200 or so young people burned to death very horribly.

Then the funeral parlors descended on the burnt bodies like hungry vultures and fought over them to rake up business even before the relatives and friends could claim the remains that showed the dark nature of human beings at such tragic times.

We hear of such tragic incidences in many such clubs in different countries but it does not stop or discourage the revelers frequenting the night clubs because of their belief that bad things may happen to others but not to them. Most of these night clubs violate the safety standards that often lead to the disasters like in Manila while the corrupt safety inspectors fill their pockets to ignore the fire safety violations.

Why do we then imitate this western culture that is being promoted by the Holly wood movies, various TV shows and the social media? What does it have in common with the culture of the country and why young people are so attracted to it that they forget the tragedies that many joints of this nature produce? This culture imported from the West promotes drinking, promiscuity among women and men, irrational behavior, drug culture and outright criminality.

Recently a beautiful young woman was gang raped by no less than 14 people in a place in Mumbai where drugs, liquor and sex was the theme. The poor girl was not only raped, she was beaten unconscious and was thrown from the balcony of a 14th floor building. Her naked body was found smashed on the sidewalk below but the police called it a suicide because some prominent people had raped her and participated in her murder. The investigation is still going on but no real culprit has been arrested.

Some people say that imitation is a form of flattery but why there is this need to flatter anyone or any culture? We notice the pernicious effect of this sort of imitation on the younger people in so many ways. They now buy blue jeans only to shred the jeans on the thighs and knee with razor blades so that they can follow the trend. If this is the latest Western style then they must also imitate them no matter how ridiculous they look.

If the women in the West wear thongs on public beaches then women in Asia also start to wear them creating quite a scandal in some countries. If skin tight yoga pants that emphasize the crotch is the fashion, women in other countries start imitating because they want to be up to date when it comes to fashion.

Young girls shake their butts in a very sexual manner and upload their videos in U tube that gets them a lot of viewers because they have seen such behavior in Hollywood movies and TV shows so they imitate.

Some boys color their hair bright yellow or pink, wear tattoos and ear rings or put safety pins in their eyebrows and studs on their lips because they too are imitating this part of the punk culture of the West. The hippies started the counterculture trend during the Vietnam war to show their rebellion that soon spread to other countries where the young people started imitating them. Some started throwing away their bras because that became a bold fashion statement. These counter culture people congregated in places like Kathmandu and Marrakech in Morocco where weed is very cheap and easily available.

So I come back to the question — Why do we imitate? I will post here a video made by Karolina Goswami where she discusses the reasons so you should watch it. She makes some very valid points and warns the young people of the danger of imitation that is so pervasive in many cultures that are suffering the loss of their own values and traditions so please watch it here.

Source : U tube video of Karolina Goswami

The urge to imitate the Western culture is inherent in the psyche of the younger generation of many countries where less restrained young people with money in their pockets see nothing wrong in imitating the worst aspect of the West in the name of having a good time. They say they like to have a good time so they tend to modify their definition by including drugs, alcohol and free sex. This prospect excites both sexes so now we see a proliferation of night clubs in many countries that shows the growth of the counterculture.

The parents and the authorities find themselves at a loss to provide an alternative to them because a classical theater that presents only classical music, dances or drama does not excite the younger generation as much as the loud music, wilder dancing ,the free flowing alcohol and the prospect of some sex . Women dance lasciviously in skimpy clothes and freely imbibing drinks that may be laced with drugs on the sly. Such places are often prowled by bad boys who are on the lookout for a vulnerable woman who may later agree to go out with them to continue their fun.

Then there are bars where single or divorced women gather to have drinks and talk but they notice right away if a good looking gent is sitting alone so they ask the bartender to send him drinks. If the man raises his glass to thank the women, they move in and start a conversation. This sort of place is also sprouting in many countries now.

People who tend to imitate others lack originality in themselves. You may imitate the good example of someone because it may help you develop a better personality or skill. You may imitate a beautiful design of a house that you like and build one similar to it. You may imitate the good manners and polished behavior of a person who impresses you or you may be inspired to imitate the person who studies hard to pass tough exams to become a successful professional. You may borrow books from him or study with him so that you too may have a bright future.

But to imitate blindly a bad culture imported from somewhere does not improve your life in any way possible. If you have your strength of character and are the kind of person who is not easily swayed by the peer pressure then I salute you. To the rest I can only say that not all imitation is flattery.

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