Tuesday, April 5, 2011

No Jokes Please, We're Fashionable

Pakistanis, in general, have little tolerance for satire about themselves. That is why political humour programmes on television usually have to preface their episodes with a disclaimer, labeling them clearly as satire and not to be taken seriously. But of all Pakistanis perhaps none are as dour, humourless and self-righteous as members of the fashion 'fraternity' (let's just say this fraternity is no Animal House). For all their claims of 'playfulness' and 'fun' in their designs, they are one acidic and sour lot when at the receiving end of even good-natured ribbing.

Witness the indignant response to Express Tribune's rather funny April 1st joke on its Lifestyle pagesET's April Fool prank 'broke' the news that the Lahore-based Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) and the Karachi-based Fashion Pakistan (FP) - often roundly criticized for making their own daerrh eenth ki masjidein - were to merge, and carried fake quotes from prominent designers welcoming the move.

The joke that went over the fashionistas' head

Ms Sehyr Saigol, the chairperson of PFDC, Saad Ali, the CEO of PFDC and Amir Adnan, CEO of FP, then decided to fire off this letter published in ET today:

The letter reads:

"We, the Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC), Fashion Pakistan (FP) and Libas International, are writing to you in complaint of the false story published in The Express Tribune’s Life & Style Pages dated April 1, 2011.

We take strong exception to the false, incorrect, baseless, inaccurate statements and information based on conjectures and surmises, supported by statements of renowned industry personalities, which have been reported as established facts without soliciting our, or indeed anyone’s, confirmation as to the authenticity or veracity of the contents published in the aforesaid story.

This story is misleading and, in fact, represents a complete falsification of material. It also used and distorts a logo (of Libas International) without the consent of the logo copyright holder (Sehyr Saigol), infringing copyright and intellectual property rights therein.

Further, the story published has portrayed us as non-law abiding citizens and has exposed us to the threat of possible legal action by falsely reporting that the PFDC and FP are merging.

Amir Adnan (CEO of FP), Sehyr Saigol (Chairperson of the PFDC), Kamiar Rokni (member of the executive committee of the PFDC) and Hassan Sheheryar Yasin (member of the executive committee of the PFDC) shall hold your newspaper liable for any consequential damage to their reputation, and would like to strongly establish herewith that any and all information attributed to their names within this piece is false and a misrepresentation of fact and of their nature.

It is disappointing that a well-reputed newspaper such as yours has overlooked ethics and relevant laws, especially those pertaining to libel, and has published this story. We demand that you tender an apology to all the parties misrepresented and misquoted herewith and publish the same, along with a retraction of all misinformation and misquotations.

Sehyr Saigol
PFDC chairperson (executive committee) and publisher, Libas International
Saad Ali
Amir Adnan

You just can't make this shit up. Not only do the we-take-ourselves-so-seriously authors not exhibit the slightest clue that the piece in question was quite obviously a prank (if nothing else, the organogram that posited that the 'bad boy of fashion journalism' Mohsin Sayeed would be the new 'Chairperson for Life' in the new set-up might have provided a clue to anyone with half a brain), or show any circumspection about the date of publication, do not miss the self-righteous threats of legal action and claims of 'damage to their reputations'. After this patently idiotic letter, you may well wonder, what reputations? Certainly none involving a sense of humour it would be safe to say.

The self-righteous leading lights of fashion also obviously don't even regularly read anything beyond what is sent to them as a clipping. The very next day after the joke, i.e. on April 2, ET had in fact published this story clarifying things for the dimwitted. So, just to reiterate, the poor ET editor had to publish the following clarification once again in response to the letter:

Say it slowly, in bold type, they're not the sharpest scissors in the drawer

I can sympathise with ET completely on this one. Instead of tacking regrets on to that clarification, it must have taken a lot of restraint from the editor not to have said where he probably really wanted the fashionistas to put their letter. But I guess he didn't want to take on people who have single-handedly defeated the Taliban.


Noor-ul-ain Hanif said...

Its very sad to know that one of a renowned newspaper of Pakistan ET did this silly joke! well personally ET is gradually becoming more and more modern they use such unethical pictures in their posts and call themselves as liberal!
And you've done a great job, nice post!

Ahsan said...

Haha jaahil log.

Anonymous said...

I smell a hissyfit march in the making. #educationemergency

Shahid Saeed said...

@Noor : How long does it take to become a "renowned newspaper"? I thought it'd take more than one month of publication. My soon-to-be-launched The Great Pakistan Newspaper is already a "renowned newspaper" of record.

Anonymous said...

Kamal Siddiqui gets a lot of stick on these comment boards. Let me redress that for one moment:

Well done Kamal!

Zara said...

sure the fashion industry isnt made up of the brightest but the joke kinda stank.
irrelevant, weak, and just not funny.

Sanam said...

yeh kafi assholic aprils fool prank hai.
like feeding a goat fake grass and laughing at the goat.
absolutely inane.
This is what passes for humor. sad.

Kiran Ashraf said...

The fashion industry just cant tolerate anything against their so called "reputable self-righteousness" even if its just a joke.

Anonymous said...

i agree with anon at whatever. for once i'm on et's side. well done kamal siddiqi.

as for those who are failing to find humour in this situation, a career in fashion beckons you. 'just feeding a goat fake grass and laughing at the goat'. that sounds pretty funny.

trots off to buy a goat...

Wanderer said...


Any comments on this major scoop!

TLW said...

Yeah the humourless nature of these fashionistas is kind of appropriate, since they have and did thrive under military dictatorships (Ayub and Musharraf for example). Ayub was pretty humourless and Musharraf could turn out to be when you asked him when he was leaving and how fast.

No wonder it was brain dead fashion people who were paraded around to advertise the "Oh So Modern" aspect of these two dictatorships. Appropriate.

Rahl said...

This thread is so sad. It was clearly meant to be a humorous piece about a little prank. I call it little 'cause the google prank dwarfs this by a...well huge margin. Fashion ppl are sad. And so are the ppl who think ET is sad.

Anonymous said...

hi all... while i'm normally all for practical jokes (especially ones in newspapers), i can see why both fashion councils were upset by this particular prank. moreover, having worked in newspapers (both abroad and in pakistan), i can point out at least two issues of a legal nature with this particular prank.

for starters, when newspapers abroad create april fools prank stories, they do not make up quotes. ever. usually they'll invent the person being quoted - however, creating a quote on behalf of a real person (especially a well-known person) is clear grounds for libel.

also, as a copyrighted logo, it is actually illegal to reproduce the libas logo (not to mention distort it) without prior permission.

finally, it is common practice for the story to contain some kind of disclaimer (often to protect the publication against legal action).

now, did the councils over-react? perhaps. but before making such a judgement, i think it's important to examine the context and background to the story. there has been a long history between the two councils - much of it fraught - and at a time when overtures of conciliation are being made, such a story can rock the boat.

i also know from firsthand experience that the story *was* taken seriously by *many* prominent figures (politicians, bankers etc) who are NOT fashionistas - it's easy to forget it's April Fool's day. And this can have a direct monetary effect on the councils' sources of funding.

so yes, while the fashionistas no doubt take themselves seriously, i do think it's important to also see why a *serious* newspaper would not make up quotes - even if they did create a satirical story.

Anonymous said...

this just keeps getting funnier and funnier...

anon above: 'i also know from firsthand experience that the story *was* taken seriously by *many* prominent figures (politicians, bankers etc) who are NOT fashionistas - it's easy to forget it's April Fool's day. And this can have a direct monetary effect on the councils' sources of funding.'


trots off to feed the goat some more fake grass...

Suhail said...

Good Lord, I have always maintained these fashionistas are such airheads and now they have themselves burst the bubble (pun intended)... have to say this...sadly despite the modern facade they are still paindoos at heart... tch tch.
We will never prosper or progress until we learn to laugh at ourselves, have a heart people, chill out, dont take yourself that seriously. In this country of 17 million souls, not even one percent know you guys exist... well maybe thanks to the lawn billboards this year maybe 20% have heard the names, but over 80% dont even get decent clothes to wear what to talk about fashion... hehhe...'so who d├Żou think you're fooling, you say you're having fun, but you're busy going nowhere... just lying in the sun"

Caffeinated Bliss said...

So, when Seyhr wrote "dated April 1, 2011 did she not... Um pause and think?

Funny prank, HILARIOUS reaction. What a bunch of dimwits. Hahahaha

Pekhawaray said...

Nope, I don't buy it. April fool is a Western thing. It is not a common practice in our part of the world. and please don't tell me that not knowing Western customs is being ignorant or 'backward' if that had been the case, West would have been the most ignorant.
this April fool thing that ET came up with was insipid and ersatz.
PS. By West I mean the developed countries of the West. I don't mean to treat West as a monolithic entity.

Asad Shairani said...

A comment on the website read, "ET shouldn't be joking with such an issue" - what.the.duck! Fashion councils, is that an issue!!

Anonymous said...

Hi. Innocent (unbiased) bystander here. You guys need to understand one fundamental, indisputable, point: Our economy is in dire straits. Why was the April 1st spoof not directed towards our President and his newest conquest? Or the Chief Minister's penchant for Anne Summer's merchandise? We are a very few trying to boost (?), sustain, help, our economy. OK, so fashion is not "serious" for you bloggers, but you have to understand that your frusration and anger CANNOT be directed towards people trying to eke out an existence in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Instead, it should be directed towards the Mohsin Habibs of this country (a former friend of mine) who used to drive a Cultus a few years ago, and now party's with Tara Reid in Monaco on his yacht bought by his father (the former Minister for Defence Spending). If you start targeting small business in Pakistan, you are rendering us a disservice. Maybe I don't like Maheen Khan (or Sehr Saigol for that matter) but surely you have bigger fish to fry!

Anonymous said...

Oh! And the ET is the biggest Mummy Daddy publication I have ever seen with a (National Enquirer) tabloid mentality just to get readership! Bad strategy by an ADD afflicted owner who sells tobacco for a living! We can live without third-class Karachi Grammar School Slam Books!

Anonymous said...

Its headlines are a joke, the stories are a joke, the whole paper is a joke. Why be upset on the joke which it play on 1st April bros!

Amazed at how can a newspaper, even an immature one make up fake comments from celebrities and print them by their names. Geez, this clearly reflects how stories are being made up in it.

redsnapper said...

LOL...I can already imagine the most schizophrenic fashionista shouting at the top of her lungs: "Bring back Musharraf - this is a conspiracy" !