Gandhi You Tube Controversy - Gautham Prasad Vs Indian Media
"I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers" - Mahatma Gandhi.
Today, I thought I'd take a look at the Mahatma Gandhi pole dancing video created by New York based comedian Gautham Prasad on Youtube.com to see what the controversy was about.
The Gandhi YouTube video begins with this skinny Indian guy wearing a fake nose/glasses mask, dhoti and white shawl dancing around a pole to the tune of Punjabi bhangra music. The dancing was not obscene as such but quite comic. It seemed the kind of dancing a drunk computer nerd who watched reruns of the 'Dus Bahane' video would do. Infact, I found myself laughing quite a bit.
Well then, what was the Gandhi pole dancing controversy about ? Two Indian news channels hungry for ratings - CNN IBN and Sahara aired the video begging the government to take notice. The govenment obviously reciprocated with letters to Youtube and the television channels asking for an apology and ban. Being a journalist for the past few years I have many colleagues working for these channels and thought a post on this topic was in demand.
When I first joined the media around five years ago I had great dreams of uncovering the truth, bringing the evils of society to light and spurring the govenment to take action . With the growth of television news channels, competition and the need to make huge profits increased. Instead of the above ideals we were forced to do stories on mundane topics that would attract the most eyeballs and boost ratings. Some of the stories that disgusted me were the Amarmani Tripathi-Madhumita Shukla diary excerpts and the fake Salman Khan-Aishwarya Rai tapes.
This Gandhi pole dancing video on Youtube controversy is a similar case. 'The media is supposed to report the news not make the news. This is a typical situation where the media created a controversy where none existed. Yes, my colleagues I am blaming you. Its pretty easy to turn to the internet for a juicy tidbit to attract the attention of viewers. The govenment is completely justified in asking you to apologise. Stop this nonsense about 'free press' and 'free speech', it is your fault and you know it.
At every morning meeting the bureau chiefs and reporters decide on the stories for the day. Why did you pick this story ? The internet is filled with controversial stuff like violence and porn. Will you always turn to it when you run out of suitable gossip and go about asking folks and ministers for their reaction ? Using words in your script like outrage, incense, fury, vulgar to create the same may ensure short term advertising revenue but is quite an unhealthy approach towards news.
As for Gautham Prasad, this 29 year old professional clown who acted in the Gandhi pole dancing video - he has sure got some great publicity for his shows, yoga classes and website skinnyindian.com. Wonder if he has a relative or friend working in the electronic media...wink. Plus, he has apologised on his site, so what else can be said ?? I am sure if Gandhi was alive he would have forgiven him !
What say you ??