Incomplete Zero

Completing the Nothingness

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Tunnel Vision:It's a Sony

Date: 19/06/04
Day: Saturday
Time: 1800hrs
Place: Forum Shopping Mall, Bangalore

Spaghetti Straps, Tank Tops, Wrinkle Free Chinos, Low Waist Sand Blasted Denims and Attitudinal T-Shirts dot the retailscape. Everybody was undergoing his or her own session of “Retail Therapy”, the latter a word coined by the biggest peddlers of pop shit: The Times of India. These are the Times in India and this could quite easily be the scene from a mall in Tokyo, London or New York. Bangalore more than any other city is a representative of the world markets rather than Delhi or Mumbai because the latter have always had a huge business community and people who are rich as a matter of fact. Bangalore is different, the sea of people in the shopping malls are the white collared (or should I say Friday Collared, I could be fired on charges of blasphemy and disloyalty) cyber coolie couples. People who would have been categorised as middle-class a few years back. Jointly earning in excess of 60,000 per month, everybody is shopping and everybody is happy.

What’s the problem they’d say? The economy is growing, average incomes are rising and the standard of living is going up. Well consider this: Our wants are being controlled, what is happening is not Globalisation but the Globalisation of Wants. Consider this a decade ago there would have been huge difference between the metropolitan Indian teenager and a teenager in the west or rather a “developed”(pun intended) country. They would have looked, thought and acted differently. Fast forward, there is hardly any difference today; both wear low waist jeans and small tees, eat at fast food joints and trance pe dance on Saturday nights and work hard and party harder. Everybody wants the same thing.

The best meter to judge the signs of times that are changing according to me is the Malayalam film industry. When most of the states were churning out commercial potboilers, the Kerala film industry made movies that had no songs and dances. Songs were usually played out in the background to capture the mood of the scene and the lyrics were so rich that one couldn’t but help admire the complexity and nuances in the language. The actors, directors and movies regularly won accolades at the National awards, there was parallel cinema but even the mainstream was rooted in reality and simplicity. Its tough for a movie buff not be in mourning after looking at the current fare that is dished out. Songs and dances of the item variety are a must; most of the themes do not revolve around the complex interplay of human emotions but around college love stories. The heroes no longer wear the traditional mundu but jeans and vests. Things have fallen to such a level that the great Adoor Gopalakrishnan vented his grief at the sad state of affairs.

Why are such movies being made? Because they are the damned ones that sell, its what the youth wants and why does the youth want it because that is what they are being exposed to constantly, on the biggest bane of the modern day: The Idiot Box.

Around 8 months back Time magazine came out with a very important study. There was a biological link between how our senses evaluate things and what we are exposed to .The article was providing the basis for the huge rise in the number of plastic surgeries Chinese women were undergoing to replace their traditional features with the ideal western look. According to the study our definition of what is beautiful is defined by what we see around us. It would explain why my mother can never understand why Brad Pitt considered so hot and my North Indian friends cannot understand how people like Mohan Lal can become heroes down South. The primary reason for this change in our conception of what beauty is the fact that people are more than ever before exposed to the visual medium that is TV. The endless hours spent in front of the TV subliminally program our minds and alters our preferences. A case in point is the current fad for wearing violet shirts, five years ago this colour would have been associated with old South Indian film stars wearing psychedelic stuff in Eastman Colour movies but now thanks to the exposure on TV it’s a rage.

Where will all this end???? Well picture this:
Date: 09/06/2050
Time: 1800 hrs
Place: Anywhere in the world or should we call it Global Village

Multitudes of men and women are shopping for anything in bright yellow denim (the innest thingy), those taking a break are having food at the various eating joints. But mind you one no longer gets different cuisines (chopsticks, dosas, fajitas, pasta et al) that system died long ago. It’s like good ol’ Mother Russia way back in the 1950’s; everybody is eating fries, burgers and “downing coke”. Everybody wears the same colour (currently bright yellow denim) for a week (the fashion cycle), everybody and everything is the same. Might sound preposterous but then everybody wants what’s being shown on TV and a handful of companies have managed to take over the global economy. All of mankind is strutting down the ramp of the assembly line. Before I forget TV was re-christened Tunnel Vision much to the chagrin of the inhabitants of Global Village. The ones who renamed it were branded as heretics and crucified by the Villagers.

By the way all this is possible if Mr.Daft Prick, George W.Bush doesnt end the world before 2050 by plunging us into another war!!!

P.S: The author has just joined his first job with India’s biggest branded apparel company!!!! Amen