Friday, February 12, 2010

Reaping the garbage you sow

Interesting how minnows have learnt the art of getting footage in the media by threatening celebrities. Like leeches, they suck of the fragile fame of the victim knowing he is pretty helpless, his or anyone else's' rights pretty much trespassable in a state with a weak and corrupt law and order machinery and a tabloid press. Unlike South India, where the big stars have militant fan following to rival a militia if needed, Bollywood stars do not. However, the reach of their popularity cuts across more regions and they are truly national celebrities. But, as the saying goes, every Friday decides how bright their stars wax and wane.

The politicians hit these insecure stars where it hits them most - their business. Violence in a soft state like ours comes dirt cheap and even these minnows can now afford to scale minor beatings on taxi stands and local trains to national news. With only a handful of idle youths, one can beat girls(Muthalik), tar mayors, marry unwilling couples (Muthalik again) and vandalize libraries and destroy artifacts of the very civilization whose offence is claimed as the motive for the violence(Bhandarkar oriental research institute).

To quote the article on Bhandarkar vandalism, "If politics is not to be confused with morality play, democracy has the quest for power, deal-making and horse-trading as the very stuff it survives on."

Why is our mass understanding of liberal democracy slipped to this level? Why have our minds become such mush? Because our minds feed on garbage. And the trash-can we mostly roil in is Bollywood itself - its dangerously over-simplified please-everyone sold-out take on the world actually going on to define the world-view of many of us.

Alam, that is why calling garbage garbage is not about elitism - it is about preempting simplistic world views. Mass violence relies on simplistic rationality which can draw clear lines between us and them, and be ignorant and hence undeterred by the antitheses to the offered theses of offence and victimhood.

The tables have now turned on these very icons, esp. SRK, who for years has "captured the imagination" of the nation with festering garbage and appeased and fawned over a two-bit demagogue like Bal Thackrey. Even now, SRK cya's, the I-am-a-pathan bluster gone, and is reportedly feeling so-Enid-Blytonley "awful" that the Thackreys "misunderstood" his statement rather than call them gundas on their face. Don't blame him - even a helpless Rushdie had to dole out a pitiful apologia for his Muslimness.

SRK & Big B, my sympathies. But you sold your souls to the devil for empty fame and you have to piggyback others through it now and then. It is all a part of the system that so exalt you and your droll mediocrities.

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