Ansari and Nanjiani answer cultural questions through Hollywood


If your family has immigrated to North America from a country that has unique cultures, you’ve probably received questions from your friends about your lifestyle at home. In a time racism is widely broadcasted, it’s fair to want to be educated about the different cultures and races around you. In fact, western society is about immigrants coming over searching for a better life, and adapting to a new culture while integrating their own.

Comedians and actors Aziz Ansari and Kumail Nanjiani have brought to light some of the answers to the questions people may have of specific cultures. In Ansari’s Netflix series Master of None, and Nanjiani’s 2017 movie The Big Sick, they express some of the hate and racism that most minority groups deal with from other groups. However, what’s most spectacular about the two real life stories is how both celebrities show that racism doesn’t have to be direct, but can also be indirect.

In a specific scene of Nanjiani’s movie he is telling his parents, two immigrants from Pakistan, that he doesn’t want to marry a Pakistani woman but rather has fallen in love with a white woman. In some cultures parents expect their child to marry someone that is from the same country, religion and in some cases, the same caste – yes, the caste system still exists. People who are involved in these cultures may not agree, but this can be considered a form of indirect racism. Cultures that continue to move along with the idea that their son or daughter must marry someone in the same race have practiced this idea for hundreds of years.

Ansari and Nanjiani have not produced these real life stories into a show and movie to change the philosophies some of these cultures practice, but to set an understanding between different worlds.

Hollywood has been known to be heavily white when it comes to main character casting. Coloured people or other minority groups have mostly played roles that are small or seen as the sidekick to the main character. For example, popular TV show The Big Bang Theory has Kunal Nayyar play Raj, the only coloured character amongst the main cast. Raj is seen has a character that struggles to talk to women and almost never gets a date. His parents are from a different country and have a stereotypical Indian accent. Raj is the typical Indian character played in Hollywood.

However, Ansari and Nanjiani have created films that have minority groups at the head of the casting. Their real life stories don’t just show how they have dealt with life problems, but they are relating to millions that have grown up being different and part of a culture that doesn’t ultimately fit in Western society.

Master of None and The Big Sick are just the first of many TV shows and movies that will educate societies on the world’s many cultures through comedy and other specific genres. Ansari and Nanjiani are telling stories through their own personal lens that reflects millions. Hollywood’s culture is changing, but more importantly, questions about different cultures and lifestyles are being shown to create comfort for all.

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