Archie's passage to India

Yes, that Archie, the goof who is finally (gasp!) proposing to Veronica. The last gasp of cultural imperialism?

Published June 11, 2009 9:12PM (EDT)

On general principles, I have nothing but the deepest respect for anyone who can speak knowledgeably about the "Archie canon." But Vikram Doctor, writing in India's Economic Times, goes much further. In the course of discussing how Archie and the gang's visit to India plays upon deeply embedded cultural stereotypes of India, Doctor namedrops the East India Company, "Slumdog Millionaire," Sherlock Holmes, Swami Vivekananda, Deepak Chopra, Gandhi and Nehru, Rudyard Kipling and Gunga Din, Gunter Grass, "Indian Jones & The Temple of Doom," and of course, Kumar, of "Harold and Kumar" -- a "glorious exception" to the typical Orientalist strait-jacket imposed by the West on the Indian subaltern.

I'm not entirely sure how it all adds up, but it's a cultural globalization tour de force. Here's the start:

Archie Andrews is finally proposing. This news has so dominated coverage that another recent story has been overlooked. This is of admittedly less importance to the general Archie canon, but not to its many Indian readers. This story in Vol 183 has Archie's gang coming to India courtesy their recently introduced Indian-American friend Raj.

Did this trip involve Archie going to an ashram? Or celebrating the big Indian wedding of a cousin of Raj? Jungle junkets might now seem passe but perhaps he met slumkids in the urban jungle made famous by this year's Oscar winner? None of these cliches, but instead another: Archie and gang go to a videogame lab run by Raj's uncle. The lab has run out of ideas for games and the uncle hopes the Americans will provide inspiration. Instead Archie's klutziness causes chaos, but it gives the Indian gamers their inspiration -- a video game based on his pratfalls.

(Found via UberDesi.)

Of course, the really creative twist would have had Archie headed to Bangalore to look for a job in a call center, but we'll save that wrenching dislocation for next year. In the meantime, I am finding it hard to get over my shock at the news that after 68 years Archie is finally proposing to Veronica. Like the rest of the world, I have always been in the Betty camp. What an idiot.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

MORE FROM Andrew Leonard

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

How The World Works India