By Malvika B.
We, the people of India, are an increasingly voyeuristic lot. That means the Oxford dictionary defines us as “(people) who gain sexual pleasure from watching others when they are naked or engaged in sexual activity”, or “(people) who enjoy seeing the pain or distress of others”. Quite the admirable quality, don’t you think?
Our mediapersons, politicians, and anyone who constitutes the ‘moral police’ that we love talking about so much, seem to exemplify this quality on a regular basis. Everybody knows about certain political parties’ opposition to celebrating Valentine’s Day. The media is always quick to jump on that bandwagon. However, the media even goes one step beyond this – concocting its own stories about teenage immorality for TRPs.
The most recent victims are law students from Nalsar Law University, Hyderabad, who after celebrating their graduation, tried to leave the party venue – sober and decently dressed – at around 11 p.m. They noticed a man with a camera pointed towards them, and on perceiving this as suspicious behaviour, confronted him. Soon, a mob gathered to oppose this behaviour, and the van of news channel ABN Andhra Jyoti drove up to the scene. The cameraman kept pursuing the group, and even thrust his camera into their taxi window, preventing them from leaving. At 6 a.m. the following morning, the students were seen as an angry, drunken, semi-naked mob on TV9, and later ABN Andhra Jyoti, Sakshi TV, Studio N, Ntv Telugu News Channel, Idlytv and News24, as well as several websites.
A petition to take stringent action against the media houses concerned can be found here. What’s unfortunate is that another petition by the Electronic Media Journalists’ Association of AP has been set up, claiming that they were well within their rights to report what they did – the students were misbehaving: ‘visuals do not lie’. Is it ethical, however, to show students’ faces, to misrepresent their words, and to blur out body parts that were quite clearly decently covered? The media claims to have been there to cover the violation of pub rules. Let’s say that was true – was there a need to violate the students’ privacy over the matter? Wouldn’t anyone get angry over that? The EMCJ also claimed “The need is to condemn the students’ action and advise them to concentrate on studies and career rather than losing their temper after a few drinks and abusing people in public.” A noble intention indeed, except they never actually did that. If they were so concerned for the students’ welfare, why not turn the cameras off and counsel them?
Moreover, how much can we really believe the same people who love to carry headlines like “Drunken ladies hulchul in Hyderabad”, “Special focus: Girls romance in hostels and rooms”, and “Drunken women creates hungama”? (Firstpost) Surely any hulchul created is the drunken ladies’ business! Not to mention that one of the media houses, TV9, was condemned and fined for publishing stories on the ‘gay culture in Hyderabad’, judging these people just because they were homosexual, and revealing their identities on a public forum.
We, the people of India, are an increasingly voyeuristic and rather stupid lot. We celebrate the freedom of the press, and rightly so. However there seems to be a trend of more and more people being unnecessarily victimized due to irresponsible journalism. We watch these news channels, comment on how nasty their reporting is, and do nothing. Taking action is as easy as signing an online petition. You can stop the stupidity now.