Nargis Fakhri and the Tale of Two Print Mediums

Recently #NargisFakhri was trending on Pakistan’s social media for an unlikely reason. Turns out a visual from the Fakhri’s recent Mobilink campaign was ‘unsuitably’ placed on the front page of various Pakistani Urdu newspapers. (Possibly by the same genius marketing wizards who frequently place giant public billboards of women wearing halter tops and spaghetti straps in locations where one would likely never see women without their chadors and dupattas, often leading to adverse public reactions). The incident generate a controversy strong enough for Fakhri to publicly put out an  an official statement condoning the placement of the visual in an Urdu daily as a ‘shocking’ and  a ‘culturally inappropriate’ placement.  Seemingly ‘the nation’s collective conscience was rattled’ and as an observer put it ‘There were many other rattling stories that day, however the image of Nargis Fakhri lying down holding a mobile phone on the front page of Urdu newspapers was definitely far more nerve wrecking than the rest of the newspaper and the stories put together’.

While it comes as a pleasant surprise that Fakhri is well versed with the cultural values of the Urdu language press, the furor caused on the social media is hardly surprising. From time to time the hegemonic ‘high culture’ narratives of the Pakistani social elite, who control the visual and entertainment  media,  collide with those who represent a vast majority of non- Westernized, somewhat culturally and socially conservative Pakistanis.

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