India Uncut

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

It's all for television

Ever had the feeling that the protest you're watching on TV seems a bit fakish? Alaphia Zoyab, who works with NDTV and writes a terrific blog, describes what happened when she went to visit one such protest:
[W]hen we reached the venue of the "protest", much to my chagrin, the students started asking me what to do. "Should we sit or should we stand? Should we march or should we stay here? Should we call more students or is this enough? Should we burn the banner or shouldnt we?"

Thats it! Stop! I lost my cool. I blame the media as much as I blame the students for asking me these questions. There are lots of unethical practices that go entirely unquestioned these days, starting with making people shout slogans for the camera, or directing them to do things they would not have otherwise done.
This reminds me of Nicole Kidman's line in To Die For about how you're nobody if you're not on TV. And Hunter S Thompson said in a 1997 interview (pdf link):
I believe that the major operating ethic in American society right now, the most universal want and need is to be on TV. I've been on TV. I could be on TV all the time if I wanted to. But most people will never get on TV. It has to be a real breakthrough for them. And trouble is, people will do almost anything to get on it... the whole history of man is just an effort by people, writers, to just write your name on the great wall.
Such a bloody waste, that wall. No?
amit varma, 8:50 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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