It would be ironic if it finally did fall over the cliff and crash but the Arnab Goswami brand is in danger of being eclipsed by the very clones it spawned…writes Bikram Vohra
His Republic offering now seems tame compared to the incessant blaring cacophony of competing individuals who have taken such pigeonhole presentations to an absolute low in grace and finesse, two elements present by their screeching absence. In comparison, the crew of NDTV and the liker come off as genial as vanilla ice cream. Unfortunately, they lose out to an audience now trained to listen to white noise. Anything more subtle is boring.
There seems to be a growing acceptance of this din. People no longer care if it is a shouting match or a slugfest so far as this news equivalent of the prelude to WWF has insult marinated into it when you get to a point when you can say ‘You be quiet’ to a guest and much worse the concept of debate enters the relam of ridicule.
Another has no compunctions about spraying contempt and derision even before the fire ignites. The body language is so virulently hostile and scornful that it would be grounds for legal cases of slander per minute except that the verbal slime does not stick so the fleeting nature of the diatribe evaporates after each show.
It is said that globally advertising indicates the sort of nation one lives in. Now add TV talk shows on hard news. They most clearly reflect the larger civility of the public because the two must be on the same page for the audience to tune in. We must then ask ourselves if this daily buffet of blather is a mirror to ourselves. Even those who blithely praise these brave frontiersmen for asking VIPs incisive questions, like the jesting Pilate, do not wait for an answer.
This is largely because there is no answer. Not on any night, it is merely badmouthing, a plummet from the initial shouting that replaced the vapid servility of the past but now is so totally out of line that it makes one cringe.
When you are not fascinated by this genre and watch it more out of curiosity you get a different perspective. The utter indescribable rudeness, even coarseness, of the anchors makes one wonder what sociological spurs hasten the participants to come into the pigeonhole. Is it money? Is it the lure of fame, which one imagines is scarcely worth your while to be roundly insulted? Why would you volunteer to be taken for slaughter when you know the deck is stacked and the game not in your hands. Night after raucous night.
The flaw lies in the flaccid greed of those who take part and is compounded by the absurd fact that if you go by the TV measure India only has 40 odd people with opinion to offer. That many of them leap from show to show and are often often on simultaneously on different channels only makes the obscenity of such shows more obscene.
To create a more volatile mix half a dozen equally greedy and foolish Pakistanis are kept in the stable and allowed to use Indian channels to spew hatred. They know that the anchors are spitting on their hands and readying themselves for a bonanza of nastiness and yet they come. Masochists, mental dwarfs, shameless charlatans without any sincerity flinging clods of loathing at each other with no redeeming grace.