Thucidydes coined the term ‘History repeats itself’ and achieved literary immortality. The favourite phrase of grandparents (your father was just like you) schoolteachers (every year this class gets worse), and newspaper reporters discussing the latest political antics. Not to mention researchers cursing the non-reproducibility of some devious experiment ‘suggested’ by a long gone senior who airily tried it (once).
In the entertainment industry, what better example than the Radio? From big thrill to poor relative (versus television) back to hep device (now) it has come full circle. You can get attached to the radio in a way no television can understand. TV’s are inherently snootier..besides being non portable and in-your-face. Record players are nostalgicky but rather remote. CD and mp3 players may be small, but you know what you’re in for next- so they lose out on unpredictability. Really the only contender for the friendly neighbourhood dog is the radio. Non intrusive and eminently carryable-around, everything from music to radio doctor to love doctor to Chamarajpet Charles (must listen :>) is at your fingertips. Not to mention the rather more informative and innovative traffic jam busters and inverted movie reviews. You can go to sleep with the radio on, you can lug it around sneakily to potentially boring events, infact with the boom in RJing, its even a lucrative part time job option. Like so many trends that come back inexplicably, radio’s suddenly ‘in’. And I’m all for it!
Monday, April 14, 2008
‘Why are you getting angry?’ seemed the almost disturbingly constant refrain in response to these two observations, both from TV-
1) NDTV had its usual ‘Back to x years ago’ news item playing. This time it was set in Iraq when U.S occupation was ‘legal’. It showed three soldiers sauntering by; one stopped next to an obviously local child and held a gun airily against its head. Close-up- the child froze, pupils dilated, complete silence. After some seconds, the gun was withdrawn and the soldiers walked away with much hilarity. Turned out the child was one of two survivors from a war ravaged family.
If this incredibly callous behaviour is not cause for anger, what is?
2) CNN-IBN- Somebody’s died under tragic circumstances. The body’s being removed. A journalist thrusts the mike almost literally under the nose of one of the pall- bearers.
Do we celebrate on-the-spot reporting?
I’ve come across two types of responses to an expression of anger on my part-
a) One is the pacific ‘Its ok, don’t be angry’. To which my response would be that I see no merit in not being angry when there’s every reason to be! A general ‘chalta hai’ attitude suggests either inability to discriminate or plain laziness- neither of which is appealing.
b) The other response is ‘Why are YOU getting worked up?’ implying that all of us have our own headaches without taking on the world’s worries. This I can swallow when someone’s particularly fed up for some reason. But to live by this as a general principle? How insensitive are we getting as a people?
I may be over-reacting, but seems to me if pain, sorrow, hate, anger all have to be felt firsthand and shoved in our faces to appreciate, then would we ever generate writers, actors, artists of any calibre at all?? Incidentally, there are a set of nerve cells called ‘mirror neurons’ which fire (show a response) the same way when a monkey is subjected to some task as when its neighbour is subjected to the same task (say, tearing paper).
One could think of them, with some license, as ‘empathy neurons’. Are we on the way to a generation entirely lacking in ‘empathy neurons’? I find this a very disturbing thought..