Cuss words, youth power and wannabe leaders
We should see through the pretense and realise that the common man makes good business sense. The target audience is not the common man. It is the young. There has been too much emphasis on 'youth power' by all political parties, irrespective of who they are fielding as candidates. Everybody seems to be high on hormones.
All news channels I surfed last evening played the snippet of a man using cuss words to refer to our Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde. Standing next to him was a woman, Shazia Ilmi, a member of the National Executive of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). She wore the party cap as did quite a few in the audience. The man, Rajiv Laxman, is only a supporter. He hosts MTV Roadies, not a terribly aam aadmi show. Was he there to pump adrenalin?
The Congress has used intemperate language, the SP has done so, the BJP has made derogatory references, with its PM candidate leading from the front in the cuss campaign.
While there is most definitely a need to rein in what is broadly referred to as "hate speech", I find it hypocritical of some in the media to take a holier-than-thou position when swear words are used. For example, in the Times Now discussion, the host Arnab Goswami told Shazia Ilmi that she was on the show "only because of that", and they replayed the loop of the speech, with moralistic beeps of course, with the lady cheering on.
Is it not ironical that what is considered reprehensible becomes reason enough to get invited to such shows? Ms. Ilmi apologised several times and this was noted, as though the sainted host and the other sainted panelists were priests listening to a Confession and tacitly absolving her of the sin.
One can easily wager that this show got a good deal of mileage, and I confess that I did want to check out what the beeped-out words were. So, you can well imagine how enthralled the youth is. To suggest patronisingly that our youngsters are intelligent and can see through is not enough.
All political parties look for weaknesses, not strengths, in the electorate. That is the reason we have sops and vote banks. In the case of youth power, it is fairly scattered. It is quite safe to assume that beneath those Aam Aadmi caps are gelled hair. The same applies to the other parties. The Congress has stuck to the tested scions from old palaces, whose ground work means going abroad for social/environment/management studies to use in their fiefdoms. The SP has stayed with its caste/class ideas. The BJP has got a background team of Internet savvy people who hawk one leader, his every utterance, every rally, every meeting made to look like an event.
To use the cliché: what came first - chicken or egg? Has youth power pushed the political agenda or are the politicians playing the youth? Here, except for Rahul Gandhi, the Congress is sticking to its stodgy ways. The real danger comes from two wannabes — Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi. One a wannabe chief minister, the other a wannabe prime minister. They first 'appeal' to the youth with some charm, some lies, or at least half truth. They came across as knights — one selling transparency, the other development and growth. These are abstract, if not vague, ideas.
They appeal to the young who do not want responsibility. They crave for action, to see things bared open, for tall buildings, 3D communication. They want their politicians to be like smartphones.
Both these leaders have also used women well. A whole bunch of smart educated women are the front. This modernistic take is in fact quite regressive, for they primarily do a cheerleader act. There are some who appear regularly on panel discussions, but their role seems to be restricted to a cleanup job. They do not seem to have any ambitions for themselves.
One might well say that this applies to male party members as well. Not many will openly talk about posts they are eyeing or how far they wish to go. But the stridency of the women is in a different league, and includes supporters. This probably is to appeal to the female electorate and the youth at the same time. Let us not forget that patriarchy is not dead. It is being handed over as legacy in a covert manner. When the young watch these mother figures or sister figures fight the battle of neo-cult heroes, they just know that the baton is to be passed on to the last man standing.
A few cuss words don't dent the image. In fact, these are words the young use in the open arenas where they can anonymously abuse anyone, take on the powers that oppose their new ideological hero. They don't even realise that what they are supporting probably goes against their lifestyle or the very principles on which this country stands.
It is this lack of introspection that gives politicians a carte blanche to tap into such youth power. It is also called brainwashing.
© Farzana Versey