Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gen Next - Are we heading in the right direction?

It is fortunate that each generation does not comprehend its own ignorance. We are thus enabled to call our ancestors barbarous.
-Charles Dudley Warner
Modern man is just ancient man... with way better electronics.

Having led a mostly impassive life, today was one of those occasions when I felt the need to react to whatever is happening around me. What is rare about today is that I have chosen to overcome my inherent laziness and write about it. As it often happens, the incident itself was minor, but it has caused me to vent out a few things that have been nagging me in the recent past. Now, if you have not set up a decent base in the wonderful social networking site twitter, you might not even be aware of the incident in question. So, let me just update you in brief.

The Dirty Picture was scheduled to be screened in Setmax this afternoon. It seems the channel had acquired a clearance from the Bombay High Court, and was all set to screen the movie as per schedule (with quite a lot of cuts). Just before the scheduled time, the Ministry of Information and Broadcast, having suddenly decided that the movie is not proper for matinee viewing, directed the channel not to screen the movie during daytime, and to screen it after 11 PM instead. Now, this was just a passing news for page 3. I was not even aware of this snippet of information until I logged into twitter. What greeted me was an combined outrage by all the twitterati and twitteople. Having nothing better to do, I decided to click on the trending topics, and see what the fuss is all about. I saw that almost everyone seemed to be outraged at the fact that the Government was trying to decide what is suitable for us.

The Dirty Picture trending on twitter

Let me declare at the outset that I have nothing against the movie. In fact, I haven't watched it yet. Till an extent, I am against censorship too. An artist has the right to express what he considers as his opinion, and the citizens of the country have the right to choose if they need to experience the piece of art themselves. In fact, I am not concerned at all if the Ministry I & B was right in restricting the channel (I believe that their intention was correct. Television programs need censorship to an extent simply because they are easily accessible to children). But there are other things about this outrage that concerns me, and I have listed them below.

1) Time and again, various tweeters have expressed that twitter is a breath of fresh air from the mainstream media. They accuse the mainstream media of being sensationalist, while they consider twitter is more reliable in highlighting important events. I agree to this to a large extent, because I am pretty sure that my hang on current events has improved considerably since the time I started using twitter seriously. On the other hand, considering that twitter gives lesser importance to  a collector being abducted than a movie not being screened on TV, how can we accuse the mainstream media of being sensationalist? It is pretty clear that the media is just giving us what we want, and that the public should change their priorities first, before they can expect the media to.

2) The new generation of the people of India are quite 'modern' in their outlook. They have broken almost all the taboos of our forefathers, and will soon break all of them. From a predominantly theist country where Sadhus and Sanyasis prospered, we seem to be transforming into a country of agnostics and atheists, where rock stars are prospering. Despite the accusations thrown on the internet, this generation reads a lot, watches movies made in every corner of the globe, mocks at superstition, fights for freedom of speech, takes feminism seriously, and often does this all with a refreshing sense of humor. Most of these changes are heart-warming. But I feel that it might not be wise to discredit all the ideas our forefathers had. I can see a lot of people around me who project themselves as having a liberal mindset when they actually do not. It is as if being liberal is a fad, and people prefer being 'cool' over being themselves. If it is really true that people are blindly accepting the ideas of  liberalism simply because it is popular, it is a fearful thought. It is always dangerous to have only a single popular stream of belief throughout the globe, since these people were as much the victims of popular belief as they were of the church.

3) The immediate reaction to this ban was to blame the Government. Looking at the trends of the past year, the modern day public is holding the Government, and sometimes the system itself,  responsible for everything wrong with the country. Instead of improving the system, or using it properly for betterment, we seem intent at completely rewriting the system. As the response to recent Anna Hazare protests (I have more to say on what I think about Anna in a partially completed post) showed, we are in danger of discrediting our democracy. The protests might be held with really noble intentions, but we must be careful that we do not slip into the anarchy. After all, the current global setting is perfect for anarchy to prevail.

Note : My thoughts are fickle, and I change my opinion as per the popular opinion, usually opposing it. Please let me know what you think about my current opinions, so that we can achieve a moderate opinion. I am always willing to change my ideas :)

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