Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ajith or Thalai or Vaalu or Whatever body part

I didn't want to be like the perusus of 70s and 80s who took a look at Rajinikanth and said "mechanic shop'la velai paakara madhiri irukkaan. Sariyana porikki look". I wanted to embrace the concept of actor compensating the 'complete lack of talent' aspect with ' i have star power' concept. I wanted to like the 'star' factor. It was fun.

That is until someone as ugly as Vijay stepped on screen. Vijay becoming a whistle'able star is worse than these yuppie english-speaking peter vittufying Madras people suddenly claiming to be Rajini fans who screech "thaleevar valgu" (must blame english news for intro'ing Rajinikanth to them). I really began to think those old carnatic music loving + "andha sivaji madhiri varadhu" perusus were correct.

Then came Ajith.

Ajith is a whole new low. Its not like he is ugly. Vijay is more ugly. But what has always baffled me is - why the hell do people like Ajith? What has he done? He is the Ajit Agarkar of Thamizh movies. His last hit was Vaali and then I think he had a semi-hit called Dheena. You can say 47 out of his 49 movies so far have been "sumaar". And I am willing to bet 30+ of them have been downright bad.

But he seems to have an awesome fan following. Who are these fans? Why do they like him? He dances worse than Rajinikanth. He emotes worser than Arya. Has a voice that would makes "thagara dappa" sound like M.S in comparison. But he has "fans". They call him 'thalai'

Seriously! what is the reason??

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Narrative

Over the last few years, I have become fascinated with the 'narrative'. The 'narrative' is simply a technic that a few clever agenda pushers use to influence the opinion of the majority. 'Narrative' is how you mess with the general public's free will. Sample this. If I were a politician or any person desperately trying to push an agenda into the public consciousness (so that I can profit from it)- what should I do? First, I would want a large set of people to hold a certain point of view. Second, people who hold that point of view - by virtue of holding such a view - should claim that they have a specific kind of problem and should demand for a solution to that problem. Thirdly (since I am anticipating this kind of reaction from people) - I should cleverly position myself to be the provider of a solution to their problems so that I can profit from the whole exercise.

So if you have to move people's opinion in a direction profitable for you - the key strategy is to NOT directly recommend that direction to the broad population. You have to manipulate their 'free will' in order to have them come to your direction "on their own". This is where one employs the 'narrative' to seed an opinion in them. Now don't confuse this with the movie Inception. This is not that terribly complicated. It is actually very easy to manipulate someone's free will. Especially if they are not expecting you to do it. If you are Chinmayi and you come on TV and say that "I am in control of my opinions and no one can manipulate it" - you are a prime candidate for me to manipulate and profit from. Because you are so unaware of your weakness that your natural defense mechanism will not protect you. Whats worse? You wont know that you have been manipulated - after the fact. That makes you a prime candidate for repeat-manipulation.

What are the methods I can use to disseminate my 'narrative'? So if you wanted people to subscribe to an opinion and you have power to influence people in the media - you will meticulously enlist and orchestrate news anchors and 'opinion makers' in TV channels to repeat a carefully constructed message at random moments. Note that the message should be subtly presented as a secondary or tertiary fact and not as the main news. You will echo this message in a variety of news paper articles where a certain view is written every two weeks or so. the message over time should presented as a basic assumption. Then a few bloggers will pick it up and echo it again. Slowly, this opinion will be picked up by influential people outside the sphere of your influence. Then common people will start picking it up echo it again and again. The more subtle and low-profile you are at the beginning the more effective the echo will be. This way a specific view is reinforced so many times that without knowing - the general public will form an opinion that is very similar to the view you are carefully seeding. The best thing is that a large subset of the general population will so firmly believe that it is their own view - that they will start aggressively promoting your view for free of cost. Soon it will be regarded as a basic truth/reality of our times and the real facts cease to matter.

You then have narrative wars. Where enemy camps spin their own narratives against each other trying to influence public opinion. Consider how our CBSE text books show Akbar and Mughal emporers as peace loving moderate Islam rulers. Projecting them as fair, noble and good people. And the fact that life for Hindus was a peaceful haven under them. That is a narrative that brainwashes the children young. You believe this until you see a Muslim in Tamil Nadu who can't speak urdu. And then you go - "but how..". The RSS promotes its counter narrative - the anti-islam ideology is such a careful fashion. You have articles and video interviews that appear like a democratic debate but they really aren't. A person with average intelligence will notice all the cheap tricks Karan thapar employs to misrepresent what swamy is trying to say. Its like reverse-psychology. Thapar has been employed to drive people to a view that is opposite to what he tries to hard-sell. But overall what Swamy has been employed to do - works on stickiness. Let me throw stuff at the public. They may disagree but 'something' will stick and over time more will stick.

Atheism is a narrative that has successful gained ground in the last 2 decades. Surprisingly the religious fervor of people has also risen in the last few decades as more people visit temples today than any other time in history. Each camp spin their own narratives. Narratives haven't become sophisticated. Manirathnam told 2 love stories in the back drop of real sad dramatic events. Events soaked in emotion that people are suckers for. Terrorism and riots cause deep visceral emotional reaction in people. You touch that chord and you can spin any story as a layer on top of it. James Cameron spun a love story around such a emotional event. So - good agenda pushers use a powerful emotional event to squeeze their story in. The actual sadness of the story does not matter to them. They are all about pushing the agenda.

Let us take a event for instance: A 7 year old poor girl was taken by a group of rowdies from slums, was gang raped and then thrown in a dustbin. She lies there for weeks and cries for help. No one helps. And she dies. If I truly care for the girl - I would ensure it happens to no other poor girl again and do something in that direction. But what if I am a evil agenda pusher? I can use this event to spin a variety of narratives. This event is so emotionally disturbing that I can use it to make anyone under the sun look like a villain. Because once people read this event - they feel the urge to punish someone for this cruelty. As a narrator all you need to do is draw them a target. So I can use this event to pick any target of my choice. I can criticise the general apathy of people, spin a narrative that our educational system is so bad that it teaches us only apathy. I can criticise MLAs, the government, rich people, poor people. What the heck I can use this event to make an effective argument to even screw over charity organizations for wasting resources cleaning roads rather than protecting such children. If I wanted to push the religious agenda - I would have 2-3 religious people say stuff that cites "deteriorating moral values, drinking, rowdism, kali yuga, lack of faith in god" as the reason this event happened. I can pretty much use this event to argue against rising petrol prices. However, if I were trying to push an atheist type agenda. I would position myself as a neutral person (i.e not a believer not an atheist) to get some credibility and use the above-mentioned event to say why god is bad. Great Bong does a bang up job here.

But what if you are a minority religion person in India. Let us say, you are a converted Nadar Christian trying to push a pro-christian agenda. The trick is to not say that message directly. But reserve it for the last killer blow. You will first use all the tried and tested techniques. Attack Hindus and make them feel ashamed of their religion. The British have some excellent templates for that. They were the ones who first did 'divide and rule' very well. So one idea you would adopt is to create dis-harmony among Hindus. And make them feel that one subset is trying to screw over the other. The FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt) that marketing engines of corporates use - is effective. Periyar used that to a great extent. So what this misguided christian chick does is - use the age old anti-brahmin rhetoric that has the ability to connect *any* two arbitrary things. Karunanidhi has been the master of using this angle to connect any random set of events as a 'brahmin conspiracy' - whenever it suits him. Move Tamil new year's day to Thai 1 by claiming that Chitthirai 1 is a brahmin agenda. Call Anna Hazare movement a upper caste conspiracy to eliminate minorities. Just say that upper caste's are using samacheer kalvi and power cuts to kill off backward caste people. You could even say that the Brahmins created the ocean as a clever agenda to make backward class people fishermen. People will believe it. The bottom line is if you say it enough times it sounds true. and if you confuse a majority of the people they will take refuge in their fears.

This malarvizhi chick worked in a worthless communist newspaper headed by a sino-lankan patriot and one that employs the most kudigaara paapans one can hear of. She experienced something much lighter than what this cross-belt boy experienced in Don Bosco (btw: on such things Court + case is no use - school apparently said teacher was on leave that day). The useless paper she worked for cleverly reported the news but excluded all the religion-related details. Evil, you think? Who is the head honcho of that mount road news paper married to? Malarvizhi puts some veneer of neutrality and says all castes (and she lists gounders, nairs, reddys, mudhliars etc randomly) are equally culpable. She then makes some titular comments about brahmins marrying each other for such a long time that they all look alike. As if people from other castes were travelling to Antarctica to get some variety in their gene pool. After making such crude comments, she gets all offended when some commentor mentions about her physical appearance. And acts all moral.

Here is the thing chic - The problem is within you. You have grown-up with such caste hatred fed into your head and you have been brainwashed beyond belief. I agree, It is hard to be a non-brahmin and go up the ladder in The Hindu. If it makes you feel any better - it is hard to be a Iyengar and go up the ladder in The Hindu. You need to be a DMK'ish+communist+lankan atheist or something in that direction. But the question is - why is this chic spinning this narrative? What does she seek to gain? As stupid or as hate-filled as this chic sounds - the question you have to ask - Is this chic so brainwashed that she she doesn't already know that her experience is similar to a non-nadar who works in Saravana Bhavan/Stores or Rathna Stores or any other provision store in Tamil Nadu. It is similar to a non-Naidu/Vanniyar/Gounder who tries to set up a mill in Thirupur. Or a thamizh-vaathi iyer mama in a Catholic school. She probably isn't that stupid. No one can be. So why such a hate mongering article? Why is an educated christian (nadar variety?) chic trying to spin a narrative that would cause mutual hatred among Hindus? She is neither against caste nor against any sort of discrimination. Don't be fooled by her "erumai maadu" handle. She's probably a sensitive chic who doesn't have thick skin. More importantly she doesn't really care about the oppression of scheduled castes. She just pretends that she does. So, Why?

It is called the 'come convert to yesu' narrative.