Wikileaks or “Cablegate”: Thoughts in perspective

The latest Wikileaks or CableGate  revelations have left very few parts of the globe untouched.

The sheer volume of the dispatches leaked (made by American diplomats and members of their diplomatic corps) makes comment inevitable and at the same time nigh impossible.

The media storm raised here in India is about how the US has heaped scorn on India’s preparedness for launching a quick assault on Pakistan. The code-named “Cold Start” policy is a non-starter according to the (ugly) American.

I do not wish to comment on what India’s response should be.

What I would like to suggest is that we should be rational ,reasoned and measured in our approach to the stories that have surfaced and will surface over the next few days. If Wikileaks believe that their only motive was transparency, then they have to be disabused of that notion. This attempt of theirs smacks of bravado, fool-hardiness and an attempt to prove their credibility by discrediting their opponents. Yes, for some reason, America-bashing appears to be their favourite pastime. Not that it hasn’t been so everywhere else, but then that’s the kind of knee-jerk reaction Big Brother evokes.

India should not be unaware of this; whether we like it or not, we are a regional Big Brother to our South Asian neighbours. A lovable, cuddly one we would like to believe but to be truthful, there is no such thing in international politics.

Wikileaks  can be useful to provoke thought , more significantly thought translated into action. But everything should be taken with a pinch of salt!

We should be aware that cables by their nature are reactionary and informal. They are not reports air-brushed and put before one’s superiors after thorough analysis and fact-checking. They are spur-of-the-moment, coloured,shaped and hued by personalities, quirks and proximity  to significant events and persons. It is easy to be overwhelmed by calamity or catastrophe, even personal ones. No person is immune to being human.Would you like your private opinions and thoughts broadcast to members of the general public? How do you think that will make you appear?

Would you rather have the Americans and others (including India) rely on satellites and technology alone for intelligence gathering?

“A diplomat is a person who lies abroad for his country”. This statement makes no mention of lying to one’s nation, does it?

My life is my message.

Mahatma Gandhi

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Commercial TV!

My television. My rules.

Image by doegox via Flickr

Sometimes you’ve gotta bat for the other side to know what it feels like!

You’re watching Castle on Star World, and you are thoroughly engrossed but just when the tension is unbearable and you’re wondering what’s going to happen next, the ubiquitous commercial break kicks in. What a pain in the butt!

What do you do during the commercial break?

Read a newspaper?

Surf channels? – only to discover that the television networks are hand-in-glove with each other; they have conspired to inflict paid advertisements on you – the unsuspecting viewer – synchronized to be played out at the same time.

If you happen to be one of those unscrupulous (to the advertisers) techno-geeks (No, I’m not knocking technology or geeks!) and can afford these gizmos, you would either have TIVO so that you can watch your favorite  programs undeterred by the threat of commercial disruptions, or you may have switched to IPTV , where you watch your pre-recorded and time shifted programs when you please , at your leisure and convenience. Of course, you can always have your programs pre-recorded the old-fashioned way on your VCR or DVR. Or if you are the patient type,you can just catch them on YouTube or Lulu, just a bit later.

Quote of the day:
Defining and analyzing humor is a pastime of humorless people. – Robert Benchley

I , unfortunately, suffer from none of the above luxuries. And although I have a broadband connection, it is not truly mega-speed. And so, my usual reaction is to find something else to do during those three minutes of inanity simultaneously muting the set;my ears do not wish to endure the cacophony of pretty (petty?) housewives and even prettier (pettier?) models and actors intent on selling me soap,shoes, jewelry  and other FMCGs – they strive to invite, lure and seduce me into becoming part of their anesthetized, antiseptic,sanitized, made-for-TV world.

But then I get to thinking that surely there exist some viewers who prefer these very commercials that I dislike,deride and avoid with such antipathy. And if so, why should they be burdened by the interruption of content meant for mass viewers? Why can there not be a dedicated channel for commercials? A niche channel! I am, of course, not alluding to those annoying,pesky TV shopping networks that have half-hour long infomercials on which every product is touted as the panacea to your undreamed, unfulfilled desires – products that tout convenience and are anything but that. They just happen to be convenient means of relieving your pocket. And not with much finesse, if I dare say! (They prey on your insecurities and work best when you’re down in the dumps!)

MTV's original logo, officially in use from 19...

Image via Wikipedia

How about a channel on the lines of an MTV , a VH1 or even a Channel V, dedicated to commercials and just commercials. Great commercials! Seductive commercials! Top 20 Commercials! Most Wanted Commercials!

Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking at the lighting...

Image via Wikipedia

Maybe a program dedicated to those monstrous Hollywood commercials plugging Japanese and Korean products aired solely on East Asian networks. (The commercials aren’t monstrous; the premiums charged by the stars to endorse those products are! Ask Arnold Schwarzenegger! Just some loose change for pocket-money!)

Middle East Television

Image via Wikipedia

Or those nauseous commercials made for the Middle East market that actors from Bollywood, Mollywood and Tollywood parade in selling, well, almost everything. Just goes to show that you could be idiotic on-screen and earn a lot of moolah – just elsewhere!

 How about some golden oldies added to the mix to indulge nostalgia? Create your own digital commercial contests?

Just picture it – a channel that does not have to bother with programming. Content will be served by the advertisers with no commercial breaks! The commercial is the program. What will advertisers not do for free air time?

In India, music channels – in the local languages – run themselves. Film music is the most popular form of audio/video entertainment. Reality shows are mostly song or dance based or both. Thus content is easily available and advertisers flock to these channels because of the sureness of eyeball capture. Mass media was never more mass!

Can something similar be done with TV commercials?

Is there an idea here somewhere? Or am I just rambling? Ranting? Or just being plain loony? Of course, this might not be such a great idea; all programming is now a long paid commercial – the deft/brazen product placements prove that!

Your thoughts?

Have a great day!

Disclaimer: I have not verified if any such channel exists! Pardon my ignorance!