American comedian, political commentator writer and actor Hasan Minhaj is the human embodiment of courage in current times. But calling a spade a spade doesn’t come without consequences. This time, backlash arrived in the form of Minhaj being denied entry to the #HowdyModi event in Houston last Sunday (22 September 2019).
Minhaj was evidently excited about the event and was present with his camera crew when the security turned him away. The reasons included lack of credentials and media slots, according to a Mashable report. Another string of stories strewn together in this tweet by The Sparrow Project shows Minhaj haggling with the security demanding a (good) reason for not being allowed in:
Before India’s general elections earlier this year, Minhaj had released an episode on his Netflix show, The Patriot Act, where he dissected ongoing political campaigns, including PM Modi’s, highlighting some uncomfortable facts; another reason why the Indian-Muslim activist-comedian was denied entry, just like Muslim journalist Maria Kari.
But Minhaj is not one to allow these incidents to come in the way of what he does best: speak up! While we wait for him to get back up on his all-white Jordans, here’s a quick primer on the guy:
Minhaj started with standup comedy back in 2008, moved into minor roles in television and was all over the place till his first big break: The Daily Show. Minhaj joined as a correspondent, hired by Jon Stewart, and stuck around for four years (2014-2018) before he quit it all for his own weekly Netflix show, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, which won him his second Peabody Award.
His first Peabody was for his first Netflix comedy special, Homecoming King. Through the hour, Minhaj talks about an immigrant’s experience in the United States with anecdotes of what it’s like to be an American-Indian-Muslim there. Between the special and Patriot Act, the one thing he’s come to be known for over time is his ability and willingness to dive headfirst into difficult conversations and use his platforms to make a noise about it. His show was taken off Netflix in Saudi Arabia and Donald Trump didn’t even show up at the 2017 White House correspondents’ dinner, where he went after the entire administration.
If there’s anything he can be faulted for, it’s that he perhaps doesn’t go deep enough in Patriot Act, but with so many people still so clueless about so many things, even a dummies guide, if that’s what you’d like to call it, still has massive impact. I mean, he’s on the TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World list of 2019.
Patriot Act, currently in its fourth season, has already aired 25 episodes on topics ranging from the looming recession to corruption in cricket to Amazon taking over the world, Indian and Canadian politics, the dark side of the video game industry and trying to understand the cult of Supreme fans around the world… there is something for everyone here.
The format is simple—one trending topic and lots of facts and data interspersed with humour to keep you hooked. It’s a great way to get introduced about issues we hear flying around but don’t know much about and are too embarrassed to ask (and can’t be bothered to Google).
Here are 5 reasons why we think Patriot Act should be a part of academic curriculum:
1. Dummies Guide: It Breaks Everything Down In a Way That Everyone Gets It
Unlike mainstream news media, Minhaj’s show doesn’t burden you with the pressure of knowing anything before tuning in. Using visuals, memes and graphs, he starts explaining issues, terminology, introducing people to the topic of the week right from scratch. So, if an American audience obsessed with baseball and soccer doesn’t know what T20 cricket means, Minhaj hasn’t your back.
2. Perfect Balance: It’s Data-Driven But Layered with Humour
If my history teacher cracked a joke every time she spoke about the Mughal lineage uprooting each other to take over India, I may have remembered dates better. Humour distracts the brain from going into information overload and is a solid way to remember the associated points.
3. Crash Course: It’s Researched Just Enough to Introduce you to the Issue
Patriot Act is not the Bible. Or even a Wikipedia page. But it’s a great primer. Thirty-minute-long episodes on varied issues that touch upon all key points so you’re at least up to date on the basics. If something has particularly hit a nerve/ piqued your curiosity, you can then choose to dig into as much as you want. Did you know the guys behind your video games, or your delivery boys from Amazon, or even staff on that fancy cruise you went on last summer suffer extreme exploitations? Well, now you know. Will you still book another vacay on a cruise? Either way, you’re now equipped enough to make an informed choice.
4. Apt Timing: It’s a Short Peaceful Sunday Class
It won’t clash with your #Friyay plans, and it won’t come in the way of your Saturday hangover. Sundays are universally booked for Netflix anyway, and a short lesson on something topical that only adds to your wokeness is unlikely to be a hard pass. Who doesn’t want to sound like a smartass at the next social gathering, amirite?
5. Roll Camera: It’s Got Important People Cornered With Intense Questions Few Others would Get Away With Asking
It’s easy (and safe!) to talk about a world leader behind his back, right? But not Minhaj. Most of his episodes include private interviews packed with awkward questions to support his claims and prove he’s not just playing around. Then be it Justin Trudeau being questioned on his policies, or Nirav Modi being told his corruption charges to his face, Minhaj does it all.
Volume 5 of The Patriot Act is slated for release on Netflix in November this year. Stay tuned for more updates.