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Maxim Apologizes for Gandhi-Bashing
By MICHAEL CROLAND
Michael Croland is a sophomore creative and professional writing double-major with a minor in religious studies at Carnegie Mellon University. He has great respect for the accomplishments of Mahatma Gandhi and hefty expectations for Mahatma Ramish. On Jan. 30, 2003, Maxim's editor-in-chief, Keith Blanchard, issued the following apology to be published in the magazine's May issue: "We apologize if our cartoon depicting Mahatma Gandhi in the Feb. 2003 issue of Maxim was interpreted as offensive. An edgy sense of humour, laced with irony, has always been a central element of Maxim's editorial. For some people, this piece may have gone one step too far. We at Maxim do, in fact, believe in Gandhi's teachings of peace. In fact, we chose Gandhi as the subject of our workout cartoon specifically because he is the least likely target of aggression imaginable. No offense was intended to anyone."
The Tartan, Feb. 17, 2003
They've insulted Mahatma Gandhi. They've routinely objectified the bodies of both women and men. They've redundantly published swimsuit issue after swimsuit issue. Many of the mainstream magazines that both contribute to and reflect our society at large are vehicles for superficiality and a despicable substitute for literature. The February 2003 issue of the men's magazine Maxim has ventured into the waters of extreme crude humor in depicting assaults against Mahatma Gandhi. Preceded by the epithetical pun 'Hin-don't' in the table of contents, 'Maxim's Kick-Ass Workout' portrays a muscle-pumped jock beating up a disheveled Gandhi. In 21 different pictures with accompanying text, the exercise buff hits, chokes, and throws Gandhi, drawing blood and knocking off his glasses.
While the pictures showing this violence are probably more insulting than the idiotic prose, the text still deserves acknowledgement. The reflections on Gandhi ('this weenie') suggest that a workout will 'teach those pacifists a lesson about aggression.' 'Wring his neck and you'll strengthen your man-titties and your ego,' is another mantra against the 'misguided peacenik opponent.' This is championed over the 'Total Wimp Workout' of running, hiding, and crying. A campaign against the Maxim article was launched by various factions, including a widely-circulated article on Tolerance.org and the M.K. Gandhi Institute. Within a week, Maxim issued a non-apologetic apology and vowed to address this matter in its May issue. It's too soon to evaluate whether Maxim has substantially repented, and this will primarily be determined by the magazine's future content.
As the M.K. Gandhi Institute points out, Gandhi spent his life fasting and being tortured for altruistic reasons not worthy of being mimicked by a violent workout regimen. His strength could not be measured in muscle mass. Maybe this superficiality is exactly what's so agonizing about magazines like Maxim. The article not only insults one of history's most righteous figures and one of my personal heroes, it also promotes attacks and hate-crimes against Asians and pacifists at a time when people of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent face persecution and a controversial war looms ahead. With all its flaws, there doesn't seem to be any justification for Maxim behaving as it does. Writing that 'Kicking ass kicks ass!' is not reflective of high culture; indeed, low culture doesn't get any lower than this.
Oh, Calcutta: Three Reasons to Hate...Gandhi!, By STAFF, Maxim, Nov., 2000