Sunday, April 5, 2015

Censored To Fit - Modern Media

This post comes in response to a suggestion from my dear friend Aishwarya. Honestly, I thought you'd give me something related to feminism. But this works just fine. Hence, the topic for today is how media alters reality rather than exhibiting it, thanks to modern customs of censorship and favouritism.

Honestly, this topic is so obvious that it did cross my mind many times, but I never had any idea how to even begin approaching the horrors of the the stupid things our beloved media keeps doing. In our era, where we all look up to ideals like equality and freedom of expression, the very mascot of these fundamental rights is trashing them on a daily basis. And we are nothing but oblivious!

Ours is an era of publicity and endorsement. Everything needs to be sold in order for it to survive. And since everybody is doing business, truth itself has become a commodity that is bought and sold on a public portal. It doesn't matter if it is important or not, it must be glamorous or controversial. A very good example is a sting-survey conducted by a foreign journalist who promised to pay several leading national dailies to publish a fake news about himself on the front page. The price was steep, but the real issue is that many newspapers actually agreed. That's Indian media for you. You can actually buy it.

I don't really blame them, though. Even the media needs to pay it's employees and fill their stomachs. And there is simply too much competition. The result is a frantic, lunatic, pathetic struggle for attention between different channels, brands, national dailies.

Whose fault is it, then? Why is it that we are unable to rid ourselves of a meaningless circle of hypocrisy and exhibitionism? The answers lie in the very fabric of our society. Let's just go through them one by one.

1. We Crave Controversy- They sell things as pointless as Bigg Boss and as terrible as the diorama of daily soaps. We buy it. Who would you blame? Would you blame the dog who shits in front of your house or yourself who collects that shit in a flower-vase and places it in your living room? We want controversy, so they create it. And it is a really simple thing to do. Step one - catch hold of some caustic comment by some politician or celebrity. Step two - assemble a few followers of the said celebrity or politician along with some opposing people, preferably people who are idle and have nothing to do. Step three - let them at each other. Step four - they will fight, first about the issue in question, then about their own personal grudges against each other. Step five - they'll start abusing each other on national television and make comments like 'tumhari aukaat kya hai' (who the hell are you and what is your social status). Step six - take a short break and repeat steps one through five.

2. We Ignore Whatever's Not Spicy Enough- So Deepika Padukone said some things about feminism and modern choices. We made a big issue out of it, because 'a celeb must be responsible enough to only say politically correct things on a public platform'. The AIB Roast surely stirred a lot of people up. My question is simple - why do we need to fight over what a few people did in their own gathering somewhere? I am pretty sure that those who attended the AIB Roast weren't dragged by terrorists. Then why do we have to fight about what they said there? The media does on a public broadcast what we do on our Facebook posts and in our three-page long comments there. We get a fight because we want a fight. And in the process, the useful headlines pass us by unnoticed.

3. We Are The Media- They don't come out of nowhere. They are people from our own ranks. The media is made up of people like us. If they are corrupt, and they seriously are, then we are corrupt as well. We make rotten news everyday by being rotten people everyday. Those who cover it are the ones we point out, though.

4. We Actually Believe Them- We gave them the power to control us by believing what they show us. That's why there is 'Saamna' in Maharashtra that spreads hatred in the commoners and yet people follow it. It is because we give them the power to make us dance to their tunes. We can't protect our families and society from this influence. That is why these days the winner of any election is the person the media highlights more - whether it is Modi for general elections or Kejriwal in Delhi elections - the winner is the one who gets more footage. I don't say they didn't deserve their respective victories, but I still mention that this conduct is unbecoming of a power that is meant to be unbiased.

5. We Fear Them- Fear is the root of evil, or sometimes the side-effect of it. We are not a truly honest set of people, whether you agree with it or not. But we have an irrational fear of the media's power to affect the society. To some extent, we worship it. But a big section of us is afraid to challenge the stand the media takes today. And trust me, the media takes a stand a lot - not by assertion, but by suggestion. And we are too weak to challenge even the points that they put forward shrouded in diplomacy.

In short, the story is that the media shows us only that side of the picture that is glamorous, controversial, or monetarily more profitable. That's the reign of censorship that rules us all today. It is high time that we made some efforts to break free.