By Shaik Zakeer Hussain
The mass Media in India and elsewhere is corporate owned, and like any corporate owned entity, its sole purpose is to generate profit and to push forward its interests into the ‘mainstream’. And, beyond doubt, it has been successful in both. The media, like any ingenious manipulator, crafts its words and designs its programs with sparkle and glitter, to control our understanding, and to evoke emotions.
Many of us, who have access to news and information at our fingertips, might disagree, and perhaps argue that, today we have tens of news channels with different news presenters debating on a variety of topics. We have hundreds of newspapers and magazines to gather information from, and, therefore, we are not only well informed, but are also well equipped, from falling into any propaganda-trap.
That might be true, but let us see how the media generates a monolithic discourse on some important issues. The multiplicity of opinion becomes an illusion. Take the example of the recent controversy surrounding the film, Vishwaroopam. Some Muslim groups protested against the stereotyped images of Islam and Muslims depicted in the film and wanted it either banned or some of the ‘inappropriate’ scenes deleted. The media erupted in fury, and skillfully crafted the phrase, ‘Cultural Emergency’, for terming what it called the ‘intolerance against freedom of expression’.
Through its satellite wizardry, the Indian mainstream media began to inject and successfully create a notion that protesting against films or any form of art, irrespective of what it conveys, is backward-looking and a form of savagery. Without drawing any suspicion, it made an impression in the minds of its viewers that the so-called freedom of expression is reserved for a certain class and others have no right to question it. It scorned at the legitimate concerns of the protesters, whose only reason for doing so was that depicting Muslims, or at least some Muslims, as ‘terrorists’, and suggesting that they inculcate hatred in children, would disseminate a negative image in people’s minds, and that image will influence their behavior and thoughts without any valid ground.
Let’s look at Pragaash, an all girl’s rock band from Kashmir. When news started circulating on Twitter and Facebook that the band members had called it quits, following threats and abuses online, and a fatwa from the grand mufti of Kashmir, the media gave it so much hype, that it looked like, all of Kashmir’s problems revolved around the band and the ways to salvage it.
One might ask, what’s wrong with it? We will try to address that question.
MC Kash is one of the most popular rap artists from Kashmir. In 2010, he released the song “I Protest”, which was about the unrest and the killing of innocent youths in Kashmir and human right violations by local security forces. The studio, where the song was recorded was raided by the police, and MC Kash was threatened by the administration, as it deemed the song ‘seditious’. The national media never reported it.
This blatant hypocrisy is what is wrong. The media only reports what it wants to report. The mission of the media is to please, to entertain, and make itself marketable, and it will do anything to be marketable.
The media often paints false pictures of the world it represents, pictures hand crafted to serve its corporate pay masters and to make its world (nation) look good. It creates an illusion to satisfy most of the people – its consumers, if you will – most of who do not want to acknowledge reality.
The corporate media needs to be challenged; the people whose voices are sidelined have to create independent spaces for them to be heard, and thanks to the marvel of technology, it is more plausible than ever before.
[Shaik Zakeer Hussain is an independent writer and blogger based in India. He has previously published in countercurrents.org, World News Daily, TwoCircle.net etc. His website: Mashaal.in and twitter: @shzakeer]