When you tell people that your department’s Book, Documentary, and Reading Club (BDR, to make things a bit easy on one’s tongue) is organizing an event, they tend to immediately dismiss it as something that would most probably be mind-numbingly dreary. When you mention that it will involve discussing social issues, you pique their interest. When you add that the discussion would be centred around movies, you see their ears perk up. And when you tell them that said movies are those from the X-Men franchise, they happily bound up to you, tails wagging furiously (or at least some of them do. The less nerdy among us, I am afraid, simply scamper away).
On the 10th of August, the Psychology Department’s BDR Club held its first event of the season: ‘X-Men Decoded’, a session that aimed to draw parallels between the various social issues prevalent in two worlds – the real one that we belong to, and a fictional, fantastical one where mutants and humans live together (or at least try to). Discussing social problems while also letting your inner nerd out in full force? Yes, please. Really, what more could one want?
The discussion was facilitated by Tarang, a 3rd year psychology student and club member, who kicked the discussion off by asking those present about the ethics involved in infringing upon the rights of the innocent simply because they could possibly cause great harm to others in the future. What ensued in the next hour and a half was a talk that covered a whole range of social and ethical issues, from how fear lies at the crux of discrimination to how often our own families make it harder for us to accept ourselves. The discussion involved a healthy exchange of ideas, with people agreeing with and countering each other (Tarang, to her credit, happily played devil’s advocate when a lack of counter-arguments emerged).
The talk not only linked topics such as homosexuality and disability to the movies, but also featured psychosocial phenomena such as prejudices and in-group and out-group biases. At one point, attempts were also made to come up with a solution for the whole “mutant problem” featured in the movies. (They were ultimately futile. However, we shall ignore that certain fact and move on.)
Although the turnout for the event wasn’t as large as had been expected, if today proved one thing, it was that you do not always need a huge number of people present to enjoy yourself (in fact, in the humble opinion of yours truly, the opposite is far more true most of the time). In the end, I believe there is one thought that all of us took away from the session—that no matter how much we believe we know about the world around us, there will always be more issues to discuss, more topics to understand, and more movies to watch. Come along next time, you. Who knows, there might even be popcorn (one can hope!).
Reported by: Sanya Chawla
Photo credits: Mehak Rawal