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Clash of Cultures in "my Beautiful Laundrette"

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England - 20th century - 1980s. Asians, particularly Indians start to take over businesses like launderettes. Racism, ecological and political changes. Clash of different cultures, arising conflicts and misunderstanding. In the middle of all this, two young adults of different cultures try to find their way through this.

I am going to try and point out all of this problems based on the screenplay of "My Beautiful Laundrette" by Hanif Kureishi.

At this time it was easy for Indians to go to England because India was part of England. Indians had a English passport. Indians in hope of a better life immigrated to England and soon took over businesses English did not want to do or rather were not willing to work as much as Indians would. For example, launderettes were a cheap and often the only way to wash your clothes if you were living in town and were in middle class. Indians were willing to work 24 hours and seven days per week instead of the English who only worked roughly eight hours per day. This resulted in launderettes mostly run by Indians and they were rewarded for this by the politic of this time. Because of the political and economic situation Indians got rewarded for their hard work through Thatcherism. Thatcherism rewarded those who worked hard and were contributing to society and was unfavorable for those not working.

A lot of young unemployed English have the attitude that they brought the Indians over to England so that they could work for them. They feel superior to them and thus Indians are treated badly. In addition they are arrogant and jealous of the successful immigrants. This is caused by mutual misunderstanding between the two cultures which already starts at early school where immigrants are often bullied. In opposition Indian businessman are acknowledged and accepted by western businessmen. They are treated as equal.

But the Indian community does not only have problems with the behavior against them, they also have to face the consequences of their children growing up between two different cultures and the lose of traditions. Immigrants of the second generation often break out of the traditional cast system in Asian society. They assimilate and integrate into their environment and traditions fade away. But that is not only the case for young adults. Male immigrants also take over western traits like having a mistress but not divorcing their actual wife. This is done because the immigrants want to have a traditional home and outside this they want to integrate into western society.

It is also hard for the English to accept a fellow English working for an immigrant. As I already mentioned they think that the immigrants should work for them, not the other way around. Thus the cooperation between Johnny and Omar is not acknowledged by the English only by the Indians.

Furthermore there are family problems because of the cultural differences.



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