Who Said It?
Cut back to January 2010. A popular Indian super star made comments about India’s esteemed neighbors and their goodness and all hell broke loose. A right wing political party obviously took offense at the said superstar’s comments and as usual resorted to their half baked threats against the star and his upcoming movie. This episode had all the makings of a super duper hit – Bollywood, Cricket and Politics. At the end, the political party got face-time in all sorts of media outlets making their opinion heard. This political party has time and again lost crucial elections and their opinion basically amounts to nought, so this face-time was quite important to them, probably. The superstar got fokat ka (free) publicity for his movie (we all know how ‘good’ it was). And they lived happily ever after ..
Wait, still some players in the saga have to be discussed. The Indian media and Us . I am a part of the minority of Indians who watches English language news channels to get my daily dose of news. As this episode unfolded, I was flipping through channels. To me, all the channels seemed to converge into one. “Mumbai belongs to all of us“, who said it? Was it Sachin Tendulkar or Shah Rukh Khan? Or was it Pranoy or Rajdeep? Was it CNN-IBN or Times Now?
“Who said it? Was it Sachin Tendulkar or Shah Rukh Khan? Or was it Pranoy or Rajdeep? Was it CNN-IBN or Times Now?”
I could not distinguish Barkha from Sagarika from Arnab. Each and every channel was quoting oft repeated platitudes. The said political party was being made the punching bag, the star was being raised to pedestals. All the channels and their presenters professed the same opinion. Each of these channels featured an opinion poll on the lines of –“Do you support Sena’s bandh against the showing of My Name is Khan? SMS Yes or No“. Each of the channels were displaying the ‘Tweets ticker’ – displaying related tweets updated on the clock. (Probably these channels do not know about Twitter Search, Trending Topics and hash tags). The same people appeared on every channel voicing their stale opinions. After all, there should be something to fill time when the channel’s claim is ‘News 24X7‘.
That leaves the fourth player – We the people. Or namely, Me (since the opinions in this blog are solely my own and not my employers’ or my relatives’). I am quite dense when it comes to really serious matters such as –
1. Whether the media is allowed to have an opinion? Whether the anchors should use their channels as platforms to foist their opinion on the public or whether they should portray truth in an unbiased way and let the public form an opinion of their own?
2. Whether it is okay to divulge information on national television that may threaten national or individual security because it sensationalizes news?
Nopes, these are weighty matters that better be left to those who are qualified to weigh upon them. But it never ceases to amaze me, how our news anchors, who are scholars from St. Stephens and Oxford, cannot see this glaring and blaring sameness in all the channels? The public is so immersed in ennui, that even blockbusters with Bollywood, Cricket and Politics do not excite us. I do understand that it is important to play to the galleries in this mad rush for ratings. However, I have to ask – Does boring to death sell so much? Well, yea, probably it does because we see Daya breaking the darwaza and Pradyuman twirling his finger every single day of our miserable lives.