Ranjona Banerji: Rowdy in the headline and ‘fearer’ underarms

26 Feb,2013

By Ranjona Banerji

 

I saw in The Times of India the other day a headline which said that “a rowdy” had been arrested in the Ghatkopar area of Mumbai. This is an interesting use of an adjective which is normally only seen in South Indian newspapers. In fact, I think some states even have a “Rowdy Act” and I remember a film called “Rangoon Rowdy”. This makes some interesting cross-cultural sharing which enriches the language. I suppose I should not be a whiny in this instance and if Americans can make verbs into nouns every other due, the rest of us have full licence to switch grammatical uses into any way we feel is appropriate. I tried to write that sentence breaking all the rules but I have clearly failed. I promise to try harder next time.

 

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I made a commitment to watch TV news when I started writing this column for MxMIndia. But I have lately taken a break from that commitment, largely for my own piece of mind. The lack of depth in reporting, the insane repetition of every bit of information by reporter and anchor, the trivial editorialising and the nightly ritual melodrama have not added substantially to my life as a TV viewer except to increase my blood pressure. For instance, just yesterday I saw a young anchor frothing at the mouth that the Central Bureau of Investigation had said they could not work on media reports in the Agusta-Westland case. The TV journalist was horrified perhaps that journalistic effort was not picked up by the authorities and codified as gospel. Should a government agency be allowed to get so cheeky with journalistic effort? Shocking!

 

My understanding of the media I have to say has much increased and there is little doubt in my mind that the print and television operate in two parallel universes. Since I’m nit-picking about grammar today, let’s look at the word “should”. How often do you see the word in headlines in print journals? Should the prime minister always wear a blue turban? Should Amitabh Bachchan be brand ambassador for Gujarat tourism? Should the earth revolve round the sun or do we deserve a better star? This endless judgemental self-righteous frenzy can work sometimes but it does get tiresome surely?

 

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Just to be perverse, I have a “should” question: Shouldn’t the media do more for the three minor sisters kidnapped, gangraped and murdered in the Bhandara district of Maharashtra? Having done such a wonderful job after the gangrape in Delhi on December 16, 2012, the media might consider the other women who are brutalised everyday in India. The police have made no breakthrough in the case although the girls disappeared on February 14 and their bodies were found on February 16. The media attention on that particular case did make a difference and certainly turned a much-needed spotlight on crimes against women. Even sending a few reporters to the area would be enough…

 

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A few more spoofy programmes about the news media would be a good idea. The Week That Wasn’t does a superb job spoofing the news, no doubt about it. But it has to be constrained by the fact that it appears on CNN-IBN and therefore famous TV journalists appear to be out of bounds (though did I see Cyrus Broacha almost do an Arnab Goswami the other night?). It cannot have the same freedom as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for instance or even sketches on Saturday Night Live, which we get to see on Comedy Central. Fox News and CNN are common targets. In fact, the Comedy Central spoof of an angry journalist in the promos for its new show Anger Management is quite spot on… Arnab again, I reckon…

 

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A short break to advertising: is it just me who is tired of seeing Anushka Sharma’s “fearer” underarms? And why does Cadbury Silk have to sell us its chocolate by smearing it all over the face of the model?

 

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