Unimpressive

The standard algorithm goes this way:

When (bad events happen)

  1. Show visceral anger at the perpetrators and make a bold claim that the event did not really hurt us and that we stand strong and will get on with our lives. Cliched as it is, it feels strange if nobody says it, so the temptation to join that bandwagon is rather hard to resist.ย  So as long as we quickly say it and move on to step 2, we should be fine.
  2. Then blame the administration/government/lack of security for letting it happen because hey, in India, politicians are to blame for everything, aren’t they? We blame the politicians, and they blame previous governments and those folks blame the Partition, and eventually, a route of reason can be traced all the way back to the first man who discovered fire back in Paleolithic times.
  3. Blame the media for a total lack of objectivity, balance, perspective and what do they call that thing we all need to lead a normal life? Ah yes, common sense.
  4. Optionally blame ourselves for being naive about (1), voting (or not voting) for (2) and not holding (3) accountable.

I am on step 3 right now.

The Indian Television media has essentially been saying:

“This is (insert channel name) TV and we are bringing terror live and exclusive. Nobody brings terror into your homes better than we do.Don’t you just love our choice of ominous orchestral music when we show random montages ofย  terrorists?”

“We are proud of the fact that our TRP ratings are so high that even the terrorists holed up inside prefer to watch us broadcast live and exclusive updates on what exactly the commandos are doing at the moment. At the moment, the commandos are attempting to breach the 5th floor window. Bang. Oh my god. There has just been an explosion near that very window”

“Why are we not carpet bombing Pakistan? Enough is enough”

“Here we have with us a token journalist from Pakistan, and here is my question to him – You guys are guilty. Admit it. Why are you wasting our time trying to give us other perspectives that could confuse our viewers.”

“We don’t really understand social media, but we will also add to the noise by sharing updates from twitter as unverified facts just to cover our bases. We are told that quite a few tweeters were actually tweeting about stuff they saw on TV, but hey, isn’t that a wonderful recursive loop?”

“If you are not scared, you should be, because I’ll get fired if I don’t scare you enough. Can I show you security camera footage of those terrorists in a loop set to dark and ominous music?”

“May I also distract you by reminding you that our politicians suck?”

“The Taj Hotel is the icon of India. Hold on a second. I’m getting a text message from some one named S Jahan claiming that he built something more iconic on the banks of the Yamuna, but no worries. That’s probably a hoax.”

“This is India’s 9/11. At least for now. The Suburban train attacks of last year were the 9/11 of last year, and Parliament attacks were the 9/11 of their time. In fact, going all the way back to 1993, the blasts that killed more people and damaged more property were, in a Back-to-the-future kind of temporally warped way, the 9/11 of 1993.”

“Are we really safe? Our brave reporters went undercover and did a sting operation on hotel security in other cities, and all of you should shake in fear at what they uncovered. We were allowed to drive through security despite having a Leo Mattel toy machine gun in our boot. That could have been an AK-47.”

“Here are some reports that are coming in, live and exclusive. Needless to say, they are unverified. But hey, we’ve created enough FUD that we could practically afford to fire our fact checking department to save costs, and tell you any damn thing we want to. Wolf!”

“We are bought to you by products you ought to be buying whether you need them or not”

And we are all comfortably numb

30 Comments

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  1. Hi, I’m a regular reader of your blog but rarely comment…but have nothing but admiration, appreciation etc. for you and your writing…AMAZING.
    However, here’s a first, a typo! In your blog! “hold” up instead of “holed” up!
    Ashok: Of course not ๐Ÿ™‚ There’s usually lots of typos. I usually fix them as and when people point them out

  2. I think one of the steps we need to consider, coach our readers is
    5. Resolve to unite as a force to act against such acts.

    It is very important, that each and everyone of us bloggers have a powerful media on our hands which can be really used to create a force to unite under.
    I am really amazed at the energy that Obama could rally around, with close to 4 million Ordinary folks, with the use of high tech alone. I believe India is currently at that stage, where a huge percentage of folks have access to this media. I have been writing in most of the blogs I read, asking everyone to write up inspirational articles, and ask them unite under a force. But everyone is in steps 1..4 as you laid out. Thats exactly our problem, that we emotionally approach every issue, which our politicians use it to their advantage and have been exploiting us this far. If we are also going to stoke the same philosophy and divided people, I dont see any difference between us and the pols that we blame.
    The protest that came up unitedly at the Gateway of India last week, I was really happy that Common folks could unite like that, but if you have read the NY Times article on that, the last word sums it up all, where the people just dispersed, without creating any kind of longterm force, and once of the commentator said, “Do we deserve anything better” or something along those lines.
    So, Please lets use this powerful media to create something bigger than us. The need of the hour is an Organization of educated masses, to create a force alternative to the current parties.
    Can we do that? Yes, We Can!!!!

  3. second u krish!

    Some of these tv journalists seem to have jaws of elastic, and spewing such crap, it’s repulsive.

    Isn’t it funny how they seem to be able to develop opinions (on everything from terrorists to war time technology) and feed us absolutely biased, misinformed, one-off hear-say based, unfounded and narrow opinions as the ultimate take on the scenario?

    We viewers are grossly underestimated.

  4. There was this gem in one of the Yes Prime Minister episodes –
    Sir Humphrey’s “Foreign Office Standard Four Stage Policy in a time of crisis”
    Stage 1. Nothing is happening
    Stage 2. Something may be happening but there is nothing we CAN do about it
    Stage 3. There MAY be something we can do about it, but nothing we SHOULD do
    Stage 4. May be there was something we SHOULD have done, but it’s too late now.

    Ours could be
    Stage 1. Nothing is wrong with the administration
    Stage 2. Something may be wrong but nothing we could have seen without hindsight
    Stage 3.May be we should have seen it even without Hindsight but no one can be held accountable
    Stage 4. Too close to the elections now.

  5. That was hilarious. The Tamil channels went to the other extreme. For all the enthusiasm they showed, one would think it was an inter-tribe penguin war in the south pole. Now that the cricket tour is on, I guess the events will be quickly forgotten, and Pak, Terrorists & Bros. forgiven. Yet again.

  6. Hi Krish

    Good one-Exposed the lack of basic human intelligence in the media….But why you are short of mentioning the name of the channel?Why cant you go ahead and say NDTV…huh?Burkha dutt again was at it,drooling over SRK,y’day with that ***** coinage of Theirs india’s 9/11

  7. on NDTV India they ended a segment by going to “Samsung Picture of the Day” – a child being carried out by an older person , from either the TAj or the Trident.

    neat post… i wonder if news channels realise that just because they have 24 hours at their disposal, doesn’t mean that they have to fill all of it with chatter

  8. Very true. But I guess (and fervently hope) that this is just a passing phase in our media. After all. all these channels are very young (virtually toddlers). Market forces will bring in more sensible media and such channels will become to TV, what tabloids are to broadsheets.

    Btw, thanks for the plug in your last post. My blog suddenly faced an unusual deluge of guests.

  9. Taj Hotel is an Icon of India. It is definitely so, I mean look at the windows desktop there are tons of icons sitting there. So definitely it can also be called an icon. I am ready to go to step 4 now. Will you be doing a post on that?

  10. hehe.. a montage of observations, which i fully agree with.. but one thing of note. this new kinda jallikattu journalism is still a very great improvement compared to what we used to have once upon a time. no matter how crass, it still has taken the heads of at least 2 very imp ministers (nvm that the replacements are probably equally incapable).

  11. Good one Krish. I just couldn’t believe the stupidity of the media during this entire operation. 2 things pissed me off the most:
    1) Interview with 1 journalist who was proudly talking about how he evaded the cordons set up by the Cops and filmed some of the Commando operation from the back entrance of the hotel. I mean, come on, this is not Abhi-Ash’s wedding event!
    2) Media zooming their cameras towards the Snipers hiding on top of Gateway of India and telling “There is a Sniper in position on the Gateway of India ready to fire!”. It looked like the terrorists had paid the media to keep informing whatever is happening out there.

    I think most of those journalists were more fit for Page 3 events..it really has to be improved..

  12. but we should all thank the Dutta lady…..she indeed entertained everyone with some humor during terror times, in spite of her having a sore throat! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Excellent post.

    The media is becoming more and more of a circus these days ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Somebody needs to figure out a way to prevent the media from encroaching into national security issues. Showing the commandos live, airing their approach plans etc should not be allowed in realtime.

  14. This is hilariouss…aiyoo i was laughing and laughing and even more ironic.. I totally agree cause I work for news as well..hahhaa.. Thuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu is the perfect term!!

  15. Add to it the incoherent speech of the journalists. 10 minutes of listening and a high powered headache. The reporters SUCK ASS

  16. One more from **TV

    We are the first to get you live pictures from the carnage that ensued inside.Truly heart rendering scenes here. If the camera could just pan through this area, you will know what I am saying.
    *Camera slowly moves through the room, the only thing seen is a lot of glass on the floor. And just when I thought I was missing some part of the footage, the reporter starts again*
    Truly emotional scenes…so much glass on the floor.Disturbing scenes here..
    *We are not too faraway from greenscreens for weather catastrophes*

  17. Pogo had some interesting programs on… during those days. You know what was even more interesting ? The same news channels showed blurred images of the Chennai law college attack.. and in two weeks.. they had no problems in showing blood stained platforms and dead men… live on TV

    I have a feeling India does not need even one 24 hour news channel. I prefer to get my news from DD.

  18. I definitely enjoyed the humor and sarcasm behind your observations. And I see the reality of the media coverage as being patently assinine at times. But I’ve worked in that world, and so do some of my former colleagues. They’re all fairly young Indians, perhaps a year or two out of post-graduation, and the irony is, (oh, it sounds so trite but) they are the ones who actually ventured to be there, while I’m sitting here, agreeing with everyone else, and eloquently spouting “thuus.”

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