Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pseudo heroism?

The above image has been taken from one of the protest in a European country in the year 2011. A close examination of this visual struck me from the point of view of the number of people who were trying to capture images at the moment. Several people can be seen weilding cameras, phones, ipads or some other gadget. One thought that came to me was possibly that there are people from the media. But the sheer number of such individuals as seen in the visual makes me wonder whether they are all from the media.

There are two aspects to it-

  • In the age of social media, we want to feel good about ourselves and what we have been upto. Sharing of images from such protests when one is part of it is one aspect of this self love. 
  • There is a sense of romanticisation about fight against state which has been glorified not just by media but also by entertainment industry. Films like Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi, Hazar Chaurasi ki Ma, Rang de basanti are all testimony to it. There are some movies from India. There are several from the west too where the oppresive state against unarmed citizens makes for an engaging story. Remember the iconic image of the revolutionary Che that we have seen on many a t-shirts?

A genuine revolutionary whose image became iconic amongst youth

An image from Rang de Basanti signifying the attitude of 'letting go'

In a state of extreme emotion, do we really feel like pulling out our camera to capture being present there?

There is a sense of high that one feels by claiming that one got hit by police or else when one was caught by the police. But isn't it totally different from the kind of struggle that freedom fighters did or else people like Suu Kyi and all have gone through. Shouldn 't people try to be more genuine when they seek to be in the middle of such movements.

Movements require passionate people and the passion should be towards the cause and nothing else. But if one enters into these protests for the sheer appeal of being captured in the press or sharing it on facebook, it loses its essential value. And the same momentum can't last beyond few hours. All leaders who start such movements should be vary of such 'supporters' as it is very difficult to guage from the crowd as to who is supporting what at that point in time.

This is one reason why Gandhian followers (in the true sense) and on extreme level terrorists never care to come in front of the media. Media searches for them when possible. They are committed to the cause because they believe in a given ideology, they understand its roots, history and possibilities. They are not there for bubble fames. And such people will aways be few.

It is important to distil true heroism from pseudo heroism. The former gives you numbers but the latter is about sustained strength.

No comments: