Lost Boys? What’s Going Wrong for Asian Men, review: a spry and eye-opening tele-essay on the issues faced by British-Asians

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Lost Boys? What’s Going Wrong for Asian Men, review: a spry and eye-opening tele-essay on the issues faced by British-Asians

Post by Guest on Mon Aug 13, 2018 3:27 am

There was an eye-popping sequence in Lost Boys? What’s Going Wrong for Asian Men (BBC Two) when reporter Mehreen Baig visited a supermarket car park in Bradford. There, every week, young British-Pakistani men convene to show off semi-flashy cars in which they perform screeching handbrake turns. As a testosterone outlet for young males, it all looked weirdly bathetic.

The bank of mum and dad pays for the hatchbacks. If the premise of this film’s title is to be credited, there’s your crisis right there: third-generation princelings falling behind in education, living off doting parents and not learning how to fend for themselves. “I’m a spoilt type,” conceded one such boy, the owner of four cars. That said, four cars is nothing to the nine owned by another, who had gone back to Mirpur in Kashmir to marry, live in palatial splendour and work in the family retail business.

Who needs nine cars? (Or even four.) Baig was too polite to ask. But her amicable, non-judgmental stance bore fruit as she attempted to unpick the complicated mystery of young British Pakistani men falling behind not just British Indians, but also their sisters who identify education as an escape from domestic drudgery.

There is perhaps more nuance to this issue that Baig was able to illustrate in a selective schedule of encounters. In this account, Gujaratis from Leicester who were expelled from Uganda in 1972 are all self-employed go-getters who drink in pubs and marry outside their ethnic group, while lads from Bradford are unmotivated, mollycoddled and perilously isolated from wider society.

Her trip back to Pakistan, and especially to the nightspots of Lahore, did lead her to a fascinating if unprovable theory: that British-Pakistanis in Bradford feel compelled to hold on to cryogenically preserved traditions that have less cultural relevance in modern Pakistan itself.

In Pakistan, argued one smart young man, no one has to spend time thinking about being Pakistani. Meanwhile, back in Blighty, how many of Baig’s perfectly nice boys think about their Britishness? This crucial question went unasked in an otherwise spry and eye-opening tele-essay.



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