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Sex and the media

SEX AND THE MEDIA By Prem Chandran At the present moment, or minutes ago, the news on TV is that .....




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SEX AND THE MEDIA

By Prem Chandran

At the present moment, or minutes ago, the news on TV is that Central minister Farooq Abdullah has hesitated to apologise, but is sorry, if he had said something wrong; the reference being to a remark he made a brief while ago that men these days are afraid to talk to women for fear they might land up in jail. The electronic media judged (yes, they these days are judges, too) it as a “sexist” comment, and expects of him nothing short of an apology.

This is simply one example of the farce that is being enacted by various TV channels in this country, run mostly by a band of immature, street-smart men, women, and men who mostly behave not like men, and at times neither as men nor as women. The result is, the serious issues of the day get sidelined; the issue of corruption being one, that got lost in the din of a gang-rape incident in Delhi –a cruel dastardly act, no doubt, but was it in any way an outstanding incident in this country where indignities are heaped on the hapless and the weak, much of which have not even been reported?

Is there a method in the madness? One suspects there surely is. The electronic media that takes up the cause of the urban elite mostly in matters that border on sensationalism and conveniently leaves aside the rest -- including issues of corruption --cannot but be acting out an agenda set by someone somewhere. And most likely, this agenda was set by the political class of this country, who under the leadership of a crafty Sonia Gandhi and suspectedly inept Manmohan Singh, have fattened themselves to a level that India’s real estate sector, for one, is largely appropriated by ‘smart leaders’ who in benami names have dumped their ill-gotten wealth there to the extent that no ordinary citizen in any major city can now afford to own a living space. The result is, what occupies major news space today, day after day, is the rape of a ‘dalit’ girl, or a ‘minor’ girl, in some inconspicuous rural backyard by one or the other; so much so, that gets listed on the web sites of the country’s national newspapers as among the ‘top’ news of the day. Understandably, sleaze has an attraction; and sensationalism sells.

But, are we here to run a media with the trivial at the dangerous expense of the serious stuff that today has no takers? Who smiles from the sidelines other than the corrupt political class of this country – a nation that, of late, derived some satisfaction from a ranking by Transparency International which said India is not as bad as Pakistan when it comes to corruption? True, no one has as yet begun calling India a failed nation, as Pakistanis themselves call their own country for the past many years.

There sure should be an agenda behind the humming and hawing, the exasperation, the moral indignation, the distress, and what not, being expressed by some of the country’s leading media channels when it came to the ‘expose’ of a fellow journalist – whose contributions to the cause of the anti-corruption movement in this country, in specific, were no small a matter. Yet, now, apart from personal agendas, the ‘political’ agenda works against him as well.

How else to describe the overzealousness with which the Parikkar government of Goa issued a red alert through the airports in the country to make sure, as it said, that Tehelka founder Editor Tarun Tejpal did not “escape” from the country? What Tejpal did, in a hotel lift in Goa to a fellow journalist much junior in age and experience, might, under the newly sharpened laws of the country, amount to an act falling in the definition of rape; or it could be consensual sex as he claimed. That the law of the country should take its course in this respect is not being contested or questioned. That should be how it is in case the victim approached the police with a complaint. But, how do we as a media, or as a government, use an incident like this as an opportunity to settle political scores, vent out personal jealousies, and hound out, harass, and mentally torture not just an individual, but his family as well? So much so, Tejpal is being projected as the "worst criminal" in this country today; and he "does not even deserve" bail, argued the high and mighty much before the local court took a decision on the matter. We have heard about banana republics. We would now need to change the definition of what a banana republic is; it could also be one where politicians and the media make an unholy alliance, pre-judge things, dictate the rules of public life and conduct, seek to outwit the law of the land, influence the mind of those hearing the cases in courts, and indict individuals much before a court of law opens the relevant file.

Those who take umbrage at the physical insult that was allegedly done to a woman by Tejpal may or may not be moralistic in their own lives. Asram Bapuji was the epitome of virtue until an ashram girl turned against him and hurled accusations of sexual exploitation. And he would have continued to speak from the pulpit about hindu moral code of conduct had not the likely nemesis caught up with him. The same moral crusaders, the 'perfect' and straitjacketed men and women who are now out to expose those who do injustice to women, have no qualm inflicting equally or more tortuous wounds to Tejpal's wife and daughter (and the rest of his family), than what the “victim” herself had claimed to have undergone. And, why do we sit around our TV sets and play along? We play along because we are taken for a ride down the fool's lane by some “frauds” in the electronic media who are out to make capital out of an issue involving two individuals, which should in normal course be settled in a court of law. And, we have our base instincts too: we derive some pleasure, glee, out of tarnishing someone’s hard-earned reputation.

Tarun Tejpal was a straggler. He has, on his own, and without the financial clout or resources of India's national media, exposed a grave issue of corruption, and brought a government on its knees, in the issue involving the top political class of this country. And he carried on with his investigative kind of journalim, which many of us relished. It had a social bearing to it. And his sense of responsibility was palpable. By contrast, how many other of the journalists in this country have ‘exposed’ the corrupt politician or bureaucrat the way he did, even as nothing that happens so openly these days in the realm of public life can escape the media’s attention? But, how do you think would the media's men and women be in a position to expose such things when they are what they are after sunset, as the Nira Radia tape, or rather a little bit of it, cooed two years ago?

And, has the open loot of the country by large numbers of politicians and bureaucrats hurt any of these journalists, least of all the media bosses and bossinis, who shamelessly keep taking moralistic postures in full public view? Does any Delhi journalist speak or write a word against four worthies -- Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, P. Chidambaram and Ahmed Patel? The ‘why’ is known to everyone who works in the media. The same media might –might – write or speak unendingly against these leaders once their ''utility' is over, or more plainly, if and when this government is voted out – and if only to curry favour with the next one in line.

For many in the electronic media, instead, such of those like Kamal Nath and Praful Patel are darlings. Sharad Pawar has reached such heights that he couldn't care less about the media publicity anymore. And, for these in the media, an occasional interview or a walk-the-talk with these pompous figures is a must. But, in the same government, men and women who quietly mind their work hardly get noticed in the media. They are cast-aways; neither a good word about them, nor an occasional flash of their face. That’s how cliques operate. Rackets are always well-oiled, and cannot but carry on. So, to keep the filth hiding, what could the best way out be? Engage the public with the trivial. And, for shameless men and women out to fool the public, and for men who are no men, and those who survive by show, what way other than ‘sexiting’ the public? After all, is this the fare that we aspire to have for a family audience, day and night? Do we get to see the real India, day after day, in these channels -- or the select faces of select people, that tire us and bore us to the core? premcee@gmail.com

Last edited by Premchandran; 08-24-2014 at 11:13 PM
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