The news is what the thinking individual finds refuge in from the utter litter elsewhere on television. What it actually is, the not so slow indoctrination of this individual so that he/she finds these other programs watchable.
My office cafeteria relentlessly echoes with the sounds of destruction and doom. The urgent cries for action can be heard across the not inconsiderable hall. Fluorescent yellow walls and furniture find themselves in an atmosphere of great audible tension. Yet there are but a handful of humans filling this space, what then causes this commotion? this image of urgent, booming doom? From the made in China Flat Screen LED TV amid flashing bands of red and blue, a face almost purple with excitement is yelling with the rush and emotion of a man on amphetamines. He is announcing the IMMINENT THREAT TO INDIA’S LEADING FILM SUPER STAR BY INDIA’S LEADING GANGSTER’S LEADING LACKEY. INDIA’S LEADING REPORTERS ARE COVERING THE STORY ASKING THE OFFICER IN CHARGE IF THEY HAVE ANY LEADS?
“As you can see the police have surrounded the actor’s home.” (2 policemen are called into the frame)
“As you can see there is a PARK in front of this beachfront property, (If there is anything in front of a property, and that anything is not a beach, is it still a beach front property?)
its a PUBLIC PARK, but there is NO PUBLIC here today. They have all been cleared for ****’s safety! As you can see.. Mumbai Police is on high alert, all vehicles on this road are being checked thoroughly” ( You can see a Labrador sniffing at a car shaking his head)
“We talked to a passer by on how he was being inconvenienced. SIR!! All this security, extra police, how has it affected you?”
“I used to come for a Morning Walk here, now I don’t”
“As you can see, the public is thoroughly troubled by this activity and wants to know when will life be back to normal. With cameraman Parajay….”
And so the pantomime continues. This is for the benefit of a billion Indians, or at least the 121 million(2005) English speaking ones. The term benefit is of course used in the same lax sense as it is in Government Benefit programs, Community Benefit schemes by Political Parties and Self Benefit Mantras,yantras and tantras by Telemarketing Gurus. News has always been bad, probably the worst produced program on TV even when it was the only program on TV. DD was to news what ParleG is to the biscuit industry in India; farthest reaching, reliable, no frills and clear in its purpose. Now that too fails in the delivery of current affairs. The obvious blame lies in the consumer of the news, us with our microwave dinner like attention spans. But it becomes harder to digest that our entertainment driven depravity has reached such pitiable depths that we revel in items like that above? The shouting matches that ensue on every channel over issues which need minds which will never enter such News Studios, the in depth, full feature, exclusive programs on tasteless, under researched and horrendously presented subjects; make the idea of TV subscription renewal a painful experience.
There is an obsession of nearly all the networks and newspapers/magazines to take a simple non story, tart it up, open a few top buttons, slap it around, cover with fake blood and chase around the screen with a microphone resembling a Mace. Read any political news and the words SLAMMED, SLAPPED, BREAKING news, PRESSURE and other such action packed verbs and adjectives find an unusually high mention. Now either the authors of said articles and news pieces are yet to discover a thesaurus or they exhibit sadomasochistic tendencies manifested by the unnatural pressure of having to look good and well informed in front of a voyeuristic audience. That would explain the verbal abuse, the shouting, domineering of panel guests and the unbarred aggression they are able to deliver in the 9-10 slot. If you recall my lamentations regarding the non existence of content in the medium in Beyond the Call of TRP and the Course for Public Discourse, the programs have already little to deliver. But public courts, the verbal castration of paid panelists, muting them if they express an opinion and then chiding them for their silence for the ego trips of certain obnoxious loud personas cannot be a thinking, breathing Nation’s idea of News. We cannot be so incapacitated by the sound effects from Epic Sagas woven into public discourse that we remain oblivious to the tastelessness of it all. The only rationale one can find, is that people like all of this for it’s so bad that it is good. Like the kind of thing Pretentious Movie Reviews banks on. But then bite your ego and watch a muscled, oiled, sexed and revitalized version of a theological epic or the blown from Agra to Agrabah romance of a Mughal Emperor. If you take a guilty pleasure from the indulgence in bad acting, loud sounds and unintentional comedy, then you might as well do it properly.