24 Dec 2004


Posted by Oblivion in General | 1:29am

For a long time, it had been among my interests to study what kind of blogs attract more number of visitors. Very few people follow blogs exclusively for either style or content. In such cases, the interest is short-lived, for it is not spontaneous but motivated - either to pick up a style or accumulate more information.

Majority of the visitors are attracted to blogs that give a good outlet for voyeouristic impulses. The tendency for gossip is so deep-rooted in human psyche that one is quite interested in knowing what other people think, the events in their lives, etc. In knowing that the other person's luck is better, one gets the opportunity to curse his own luck. If the other person's is worse, it makes one feel better. If the other person's ideas are contrary to one's own, it gives one a chance to indulge in an argument; if the idea is in agreement, one feels reassured of his own 'mature' thinking abilities. The motives for reading blogs are not at once obvious; they are more often subconscious. A good understanding of Freud would make it easier for one to appreciate the entire psychological mechanism.

Broadly classifying the blogs - entirely subjective classification, I must say - I found that they can be arranged in a descending order (with the number of visitors as the reference for ordering) thus:

1.Blogs that talk about people
2.Blogs that talk about events
3.Blogs that focus on ideas

Each of these categories can be subdivided for further analysis, but I would do that another time. For the moment, it does good to observe that the subconscious motives and impulses affect a person's preference for the choice of blogs - in exactly the same manner they affect choices in the world offline.

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

20 Dec 2004

PS: This is Obscene!

Posted by Oblivion in General | 10:36pm

'Caught in the act' were two DPS school-kids (Ok, not kids anymore), the 'fielder' was a mobile phone, the 'ball' was circulated among friends, enemies and strangers, and the 'fourth umpire' is taken into custody! His fault? A 'wrong decision' - so says Section 67 of the Information Technology Act: transmission of obscene material through electronic media.

I'm not trying to justify either the DPS kids or the IIT student or Avnish Bajaj - my justifying it or not doesn't make any difference, to be honest :) - I'm just trying to understand if logic and rationality has any place in Law.

Baazee's 'user agreement' mentions that items bought or sold "shall not be obscene or contain pornography", but it also mentions that "You are solely responsible for Your Information, and we act as a passive conduit for your online distribution and publication of Your Information". If a user exploits a service, is it the fault of the service provider? Apparently, Law believes so. And, one should not question the Law - all the gibberish about fundamental rights and democracy notwithstanding - for it amounts to sacrilege! So, bye bye Avnish.

It had been perhaps asked a million times but I'm asking yet again - what 'precisely' is 'obscenity'? In this case, it was two school kids indulging in a sexual act. This clip was circulated as MMS. The boy is 17, the girl 16. So, is obscenity in this case being referred to the act? Or, to the act in relation with the age of the kids?

It's absurd to assume that a 17-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl are not grown up enough to decide what to do. So, they obviously 'knew' what they were doing. If not for the mistake of capturing it on the mobile, and circulating it, in turn, their (mis)adventure would have remained only as a memory in their minds, and a huge real estate - print and electronic and psychological - has been saved. Why is it that we make such a big issue of a 'mutually agreed upon intimate moment'? (One may also remember the hullabaloo about Shahid-Kareena's) It appears to me that most people do not understand obscenity or vulgarity clearly. In a sexually-repressed society, anything to do with sex is taken to be obscene! God save such societies with shallow morality.

If selling pornography electronically is illegal, is it legal if one sells non-electronically? If so, how does one explain such dubious distinction? If selling non-electronically is also illegal, does that mean the adult VCDs, DVDs, books, magazines, etc do not come under 'pornography'? If they are 'porn' then why not put the owners of music/book/video stores as well behind bars? If they have different logic for these, then - if the school-kids recorded it on a video disc and completed it with titling, et al, and sold it as a short-film, would it then have been fine? If that is not fine, then why not also nail all those 'obscene' filmmakers and music video makers? What is the distinction? What is it that makes this particular act obscene? Is it because they are school-kids and so 'should' be only studying and not doing anything else? Fine, a valid point that! Now, in that case, why not arrest the principal and teachers of the school for having 'not taught' the 'right' values to children? Why not arrest the parents for having 'brought them up' with such distorted morality?

What is the message that the Law and media are giving to the people? Do they want to say - make 'proper' use of electronic devices and medium - mobile phones, websites, etc? What is 'proper' usage? Logically, anything that does not intrude another person's space - physical, psychological, spiritual, whatever - is 'proper'. In this DPS MMS issue, there wasn't any intrusion whatsoever. And, come on, when the boy himself records it and flaunts it, why catch the IIT student for putting it on Baazee and making some money out of it? And, Baazee is an online store that facilitates buying and selling of products and information. I'd have understood the validity of the issue if the whole thing was a planned attempt - if the boy and girl were administered drugs or were forced to 'do it' by someone who recorded it for selling online and making money out of it.

And what the big shit about 'obscenity'!? Is it any more obscene than the way politicians exploit their power and position?; than the way media joins hands with those crooked brats and fools public?; than the way police treats a common man in trouble?; than the way we gossip about our best buddies and worst enemies?; than the way US framed Iraq and waged a war while the whole world watched mutely?; than the way people make it to top by crooked means?; than the way traffic police 'frames' a driver and empties his pockets?;... it's an endless list!

How easily people make 'absolute' distinctions between 'good and 'bad, 'right' and 'wrong'! It will always confound me!

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

17 Dec 2004

Realism - Dead or Alive?

Posted by Oblivion in General | 3:59am

Cinema thrives on exaggeration. The recent list of blockbusters proves the point. Not a surprise, for cinema had always been so. The point that is bugging me is - from early nineties, cinema has shown a marked departure from 'realism'. Exaggeration in movies increased in direct proportion to the hype involved in promoting the product. As a result, the focus shifted drastically from story to secondary attributes - huge settings, sensational twists, double loads of mush, beastly indulgence in instincts, etc. These days, stories are written and scenes are shot with the promos in mind, and the actual film goes to the wall. It does, without doubt, reflect the psyche of the audience - lower attention spans, impatience, and ye dil maange more attitude for sensation. So, the more restless the society is, the more loud and mediocre the films will be. All this sound reasoning not withstanding, it makes me sad that unlike in other forms of art, the movement of realism lasted shorter in the art of filmmaking.

I'm not suggesting that out of the 900 movies made every year, at least 600 should focus on realism. I admit it is an unreasonable expectation. I'd be happy with as few as 10 such 'real' films. I understand that the richness of the medium and the craft of storytelling demand that the product appears attractive and not as just another stoty of the guy-next-door. Moreover, business as it is, and with the kind of investment involved, the entire packaging is done with the returns in mind. Naturally, films appeal to one's fantasies - each one in the audience knows, subconsciously, where the story is exactly moving toward. Each one of them knows that the hero would come out triumphant even from the most impossible of situations. Ironically, the more impossible the situations are, the more thrilling the triumph. Admitting that these are all guided by the very nature of the economic model that filmmaking is, I do believe it is not impossible to make compelling films portraying reality and yet doing good at the box-office. But again, what the fuss about box-office? These chaps have millions, and are supposedly talented. Can't they dare to risk making a good film without worrying about returns?

Mani Ratnam stands out. But he is, strictly speaking, not a realist filmmaker. I want to see Satyajit Ray's kind of masterpieces - that show life as it is. For every hundred KHNHs, I want just one Anand; for every hundred Gadars or Borders or Lagaans, I want just one Pratidwandi; for every hundred 3KGs, I want just one Apur Sansar. I agree Hero No.1, Ye No.1, Wo No.1 are all fine comedies, but I want one Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron too. For every hundred Karan Johars, I want one Satyajit Ray. I don't want to see fantastic stories of heroes, I want to see stories of people. Is there really a realist filmmaker out there, or is he an extinct species?

I don't know if anyone remembers the music video that Lintas made on Bombay when riots devastated the city in early nineties, but it was so brilliant that I still remember the visuals. It was about people - it was about you and me. At a time when kitsch is king, Rabbi's Bulla Shah music video came as a saviour. He didn't take the camera into studio settings, but he took it into the streets. May his tribe increase!

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

15 Dec 2004


Posted by Oblivion in General | 1:00pm

"Both in thought and in feeling, even though time be real, to realise the unimportance of time is the gate of wisdom."

- Bertrand Russell

What kind of a mind can chance upon such insights? Is insight dependent on intelligence, or experience, or a chance combination of both? I vote for intelligence, because assuming an experience is quite affecting, yet it is intelligence that determines how one takes it and comes out of it. And, what determines intelligence in turn? Education? Genes? Or various factors else? Or is it independent of everything? If it is dependent, we come back to the point - it's all a game of chance, for there is absolutely no way in life to choose 'determinants'. Interesting anyways... need to think more...

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

14 Dec 2004

11/09/04, 5.12pm

Posted by Oblivion in General | 5:35pm

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---