Don't scream. We can hear you. We can see you 24x7, prime time, all the time. We can hear you ramble on, babbling, faffing, cajoling, persuading, shouting and screaming non-stop. We know your robotic, inelegant mind, driven by the terrible tyranny of arrogance, mediocrity, market gimmicks and flashpoint sensationalism. We know your jumble of limited words, in action replay, ad nauseum, repeated relentlessly, like a vicious circle turned flat. What sells? What does not sell? What's Live News? What's Dead News? (like farmer suicides for instance, or 200 million in India malnourished, or land struggles against mining, or that an almost 80 per cent Indians survive on Rs 20 a day). Don't scream. We can turn off the sound and follow your lips.
We can move from one channel to another. We can watch Sanskar TV or World Movies. Or Narendra Modi Live. We can even switch off the television channels. That's democracy.
But we are condemned to watch you or him or her if we want TV news, by compulsion or circumstances. In your dynamic mediocrity, we celebrate our passive stupidity. We degrade ourselves. There is no option or free choice in the market. There is no democracy.
In any case, they all are all the same. Prototypes of manufactured consent constructed in thick-skin with the same smell of soap and soap opera camouflaged as journalism. So thick is this skin, though knowledge is just about skin-deep, as shallow and superficial like the waters where narcissism celebrates its own shadow. Obsessed with their babble of mindless ramblings, posing as strategic affairs experts to clinical psychologists to in-house historians, social scientists and nationalists, these zombies of self- love, camouflaged as TV anchors, editors and journos, have hit the highest low of untruth, half-truths, and hysteria. Bloating and gloating in their self-made quagmire of soundbytes.
One woman ‘TV superstar' always carried a bandwagon of a crowd behind her in Mumbai, some giggling, even while people were being shot inside the Taj, as if she is Angelina Jolie. Once inside the hotel, as the grand finale, she SCREAMED, in an amazing melodramatic public spectacle, more like a tragedy queen in a tacky, didactic soap then a hard-headed journalist reporting on a national crisis: SHATTERED GLASS, she said; if I still remember the incoherent dramatics, it was something like this, metaphorically: THE CURTAIN! THE WINDOW! THE TABLE! SOMEONE SURELY WAS EATING THERE! SHATTERED GLASS! CAMERA....
She surely missed out on the famous, democratic, iconic Taj loo, where all of us have gone to pee sometime or the other: Camera! The wash basin, the tissue paper, the liquid soap, the western toilet, the Indian toilet, the flush flushed. Camera!
There were others too, diving on the ground and screaming, as if they have done Iraq, Beirut and Palestine at one go, while the camera guy stood in full limelight "facing the bullets". One chubby anchor kept describing the architecture of the Taj and said the same thing - breaking news: the least he can do is take a crash course on art and architecture, diplomacy and international relations. He belongs to a vegetarian English channel, but he speaks the language of the Taliban, meat-eating and cannibalising news everyday, (Operation Infinite Illiteracy), turning diplomatic nuances upside down. These days, Mr Chubby Self-Righteous Warmonger, is into war - as if he is reporting from South Waziristan. (Read: Arundhati Roy's take on the Mumbai attack in the Guardian and Outlook.)
Ironically, the original role model, box office hit Scream King, who mastered the hysterical narrative in his high-pitched voice as a work of genius, was beaten in his own game. In this big business of me-first screams, where he too now is a media tycoon, he screamed his guts out: but, sadly, the others out-classed him.
There is no patience, no critical rationality, no journalistic rigour or cross-check/double check, no complex layers of editing, no blanket ban on inflammatory language or visuals, no retractions, corrections or apologies, no restraint or pause, no concern of fall-outs or consequences, no social or aesthetic obligations, no political awareness or vision, no basic knowledge systems, no depth or sensitivity, no visual art and craft, no cinematic language. Only incessant babble and jingoism as breaking news, like an epidemic of the mouth.
That's why I say: turn off the TV channels. Switch it off. Give your sanity a chance.
So dear readers, winter-sunshine, merry christmas & new year to you. In homage to those who fell, let this be quiet and subdued.