Friday, February 10, 2006

Of seminars and toons...

‘However ‘with it’ JUDE might be, a course is a course is a course, and there are some rules. Hence the compulsion of talking about and/or writing papers on things you haven’t a clue about, which, we’re told in candid moments, is the rite of initiation into academics. The trick, apparently, is to be confidently confused (obscure too, if you can manage it) so that everybody (nearly…) puts incomprehension down to his or her own stupidity. And applauds loudly. It’s therefore a rare delight to have the opportunity to write a paper (of sorts) on other people who haven’t a clue what they’re on about, and are blissfully unaware of it. It helps, perhaps, that neither of them are technically ‘academics’.

We shall, however, play nice and not speak too ill of them. The much publicized panel discussion on censorship started without the star attraction, Ms. Nasreen. Never a good sign. The two other speakers were, at best, irrelevant. I take nothing away from FAS – certainly, they deserve credit for the kind of work they are doing: showcasing films banned arbitrarily from Nandan at the whims of the head of state, short films which would otherwise have gone entirely unnoticed, organizing sessions with directors – but it would have been less of a wasted effort if the two panellists had kept in mind that:

1. The topic of the evening was ‘Censorship’.

2. They were addressing an audience consisting of almost exclusively University students belonging to the Faculty of Arts, who would have considered a familiarity with the basic premises of democracy, hegemony and State-sponsored censorship a prerequisite to such a seminar, and would therefore justifiably have considered a skewed expounding of the definitions of the same for over an hour a considerable waste of their time.

There really is very little to say about the seminar, which leant heavily towards personal anecdotes and did not touch ‘censorship’ except when it came as an aside into their narrative, chiefly in the guise of the (film) Censor Board of India.

The cleverer ones among us will probably see this post – my attitude – as a censoring of the panel discussion. Well, no, see, because I didn’t have the power, the authority to stop the seminar just because it did not meet my approval. Mr. Bhattacharya did, and hence A Day from a Hangman’s Life was removed from Nandan.

The whole point of this blog, as I understand it – apart from being cynical about the chances of true freedom of speech and expression – is to promote and preserve the right to act like I (and those in the audience who did not exercise their choice to walk out) did, irrespective of our power to influence the situation. The conscious decision not to rise to obvious baits, because that only prolongs and makes ugly a few moments of annoyance or inadvertent entertainment, depending on one’s point of view. Joseph’s film wasn’t an exceptional one in any respect, and the attention it received was chiefly due to its censor, providing several a platform to bolster their libertarian public image.

But here’s the catch: discretion in censorship is then, perhaps, the key to those censoring, as well? If something isn’t paid any attention, if something is pointedly and aggressively ignored, it usually goes away. And once it fades from public memory, it usually stays faded. In fact, it took me a couple of minutes to realise the film was about the Dhananjay Chatterjee, who was the staple headline just over a year back.

The trouble with something as broad a term as 'censorship' is that it’s much more context-dependant than most. If we chose not to scream ‘Get to the point!’ at the speakers at Monday’s seminar it was because it would have been futile. A waste of energy, to speak nothing of rudeness. Besides, what would we have achieved? A couple of embarrassed gentlemen? An expulsion from the hall? And who knows, there might have been people who actually enjoyed the seminar. What right had we to spoil it for them?

Doesn’t hold water, this peaceful tolerance, when it comes to this. Then again, why not? Why must people be so sensitive about religion?
Indeed, and why shouldn’t they be?
Look, what does it matter if non-believers say about us?
Exactly. What right do they have to mock us and ours?

You see the problem.

I have spent a year blogging, and am notorious for long posts that refuse to make a point. So I shall merely link to two people I read regularly, both scornful of political correctness and sometimes, even the social hypocrisies we pass off as multicultural sensitivity. As Sam Vimes often says, just because you’re an ethnic minority (any sort, anywhere), doesn’t mean your parents were necessarily married.

Here’s JAP’s take on the issue, which makes a very important point in one sentence: Morons. They just created another 257,385 Islamic suicide bombers. Bloody cretins.

And here’s the ever irreverent Arnab’s – incidentally, a BE from JU – post on it. He makes way too many very valid points in his characteristics style for me to list here. Do read. And don’t forget to click on the links. They’re there for a reason.


panu said...

The takes of JAP and Arnab were good, but your points took the cake.



P.S. Send me an invite so I can express my **** feelings as well

Rimi said...

thank you so much. but can't invite you, tintinda said only course-people.

panu said...

poor me. anyway... whats with the Nose Ring being s*ut thingy?? umm... that can be a moral censorship thing as well.