Enlightenment is it's own Magic: Gere's Response
Richard Gere is now claiming that his kissing of Shilpa Shetty was because of his "failure to understand local culture". Gee, ya think?
Gere issued a statement via the AIDS charity that he is associated with, apologizing for the incident. The outrage has sparked protests, some of which involve burning effigies of him- something that Shetty herself doesn't understand, and thinks it makes India look regressive.
This whole incident is reminding me of some interesting discussions that were going on over at the Magic Utopia Blog recently, on racism and cultural sensitivity among magicians.
What Gere did was perfectly innocent in his eyes, but it prompted a very strong response that he didn't understand or expect. This is a huge example of how being a traveling performer could come with certain caveats- mainly that you should understand a local culture before immersing yourself in it. It's a huge undertaking, but in the end it's worth it- because then you can avoid a fine or three monthes in jail for kissing a local TV star.