Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Let me state upfront that I am a fan of his writing. And I’m currently watching reruns of West Wing.
From what I gather from my media colleagues, The Newsroom is a preachy, self righteous show with no real focus. Things don’t really work the way the show claims and the politics of it is disturbing.
Whatever induced Sorkin to that think that his show will get anywhere with the very media he is so gloriously thrashing, I do not know.
What I do know and want to talk about is the politics of the show. I did watch the pilot episode and I do believe my opinion as a third-world fan of Aaron Sorkin matters.
There is not a shred of doubt that the politics of his shows are disturbing. It is no surprise either that things don’t really work the way they are portrayed on TV. Surely, we all know that? Ask Kal Penn, who was as disappointed as I am to learn that you can’t get food delivered to the White House. You don’t say…?
Let’s start with Will McAvoy’s rant. He was very articulate about why America is not the greatest country in the world. But nostalgia about “who we used to be” was loopy at best. “We stood up for what was right. And we didn’t get scared so easy.”
Is this the same country that treated Communism as if it were a toxic, communicable disease that could eliminate humanity? We didn’t get scared so easy, which is why we fought two wars half way across the world. We stood up for what was right, which is why we screwed around with the Taliban and armed them in the first place.
What kind of nut makes bizarre claims like these? There’s nothing wrong with loving your country but the oh-so-Americanism of it all is nauseating.
I really don’t have a refreshing take on The Newsroom. It’s hard to judge the show based on one episode. But I can confidently vouch for the politics and idealism of Aaron Sorkin’s shows. When you ask for a Sorkin show, a Sorkin show is what you will get.
So, I’m confounded by the rants against his idealism in The Newsroom. Were these the same people who religiously watched West Wing and applauded it as a great show? I love that show only because I completely disregard the politics. It was great drama, with an outstanding cast and exceptional writing. But don’t for a moment think that I didn’t cringe every single time Jed Bartlet was referred to as the Leader of the Free World.
With West Wing, Sorkin never once attempted to conceal his idealism or his Liberal views. And that’s fine. If you don’t like what you get, look elsewhere. What I don’t understand is why the rant now? The media are peeved only because this time around Sorkin is telling them how to run their houses rather than telling the President of the country how to manage his. Is that it?
To someone like me, who lives half way across the world (and whom Sorkin thinks America needs to enlighten), the reviews of The Newsroom are… well, First World Problems.
Really, who cares that Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer think that news is so precious a commodity that only the very best and smartest people deserve to consume it?
The point of this long rant is that the moment you start dissecting a show, a book or a movie to this extent, you realize that there is no point in attempting to watch something or read in the first place.
Do I want to come home at the end of the day and spend time contemplating the larger implications of a TV show or do I want watch it because I enjoy the banter, drama and the entertainment package?
I know I want to come home and watch Josh Lyman hammer out policy details like he’s reading out English alphabets and Jed Bartlet take sarcasm and narcissism to new heights.
And that’s all there is to it.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
It was a year of catching up with friends, making new ones, exploring several cities, discovering incredible TV shows (!), getting back to books, getting excited enough to take a stance -- and all this with great company! It was even the year the first boy (my nephew) in our family of girls was born.
I discovered Adele, my baking and cooking skills, saw Eric Clapton live (!), learnt how to live within 600 square feet (with a boy), converted to Apple, and learnt how to Scuba dive.
So, even if the world ends in 2012 (Mayans, bring it on), I will take a bow happily. In no particular order, here's why:
1. Finally watched Broadway shows
2. Had the honor of stepping into Max Brenner's world
3. Saw Kevin Spacey and Robin Williams perform live
4. Saw the most amazing corals and underwater life in Thailand and Fiji
5. Watched India win the cricket world cup!
6. Wore a winter coat and boots for the first time ever
7. Learnt to use chopsticks
8. Discovered Pimm's!
I have a nagging feeling that I will have a list to share in 2013 as well. Later then.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
When Eli Wallach explains the virtue and importance of “gumption” to Kate Winslet in the 2006 movie “The Holiday,” I’m certain the “most powerful” men of modern day politics were not paying attention.
They should have.
Perhaps it would have helped prevent this wave of gumption-less decisions that are being made by politicians across the world.
Let me start with my motherland. (Happy Independence month, by the way).
The hot potato in our government’s hands right now is Anna Hazare. Yes, it’s the same potato the government has dropped, squashed and tumbled over in the past few, actually several, days.
Without getting into specifics, here’s the crux of this mess –
Mr. Hazare, a veteran in the fight against corruption, has been criticizing the current Congress-led government that’s been basking in a swamp of corruption. He wants to put together a bill that he believes will do much to curb corruption.
And his mode of protest to ensure that he is being taken seriously is the old Gandhian way of going on a hunger strike. He has been on hunger strikes before and he threatened to go on a new one from yesterday, Aug. 16.
This return to Gandhian ways as opposed to barking and yelling into the microphone or being responsible for violent protests has struck a chord with many Indians. No, there is no Indian spring in the offing, but people took notice of his efforts and nodded in agreement from a distance.
So far so good. Harmless protests - just another day in the life of a democratic country.
Except, the government, adding to its list of jobs well done, decided to arrest him before he went on his latest hunger strike.
And that’s where it made a big boo boo.
Much uproar ensued and the government came under fire from several different corners and realized its blunder. (And when I say blunder, I’m not referring to such comments from Congress leaders as – The police is not under any political influence. They are working independently.)
And what could very well have been just another incident that most urban Indians discuss and dismiss over coffee, has turned into social media and phone/SMS crusades against the government and in strong support for Anna.
Nothing wrong there, but from a political perspective, the government could not have handled this any worse. And, of course, buckling under sudden pressure, the government decided to release Anna from custody. (Anna, on his part, has scoffed at this and is still in a room in the prison where he began his fast yesterday).
And this brings me to this post’s theme – Gumption.
Where is it?
One cannot help but wonder why the government cannot 1) make a wise and tactical move in response to a crisis and 2) stick to its decision once it has made one.
I’m certainly not saying that Anna should have remained in custody. No. I’m wondering why the government did not even try to explain its thought process. Surely there was one? (I’m ignoring “It was Delhi Police’s idea” and PC’s talk on refusal to obey prohibitory order etc. for obvious reasons.)
By jumping up and down like a petrified and possibly electrified rodent, the government is simply giving more weight to the opinion that there was in fact NO thought process. That by jailing a protester, the idea was that the protest would die and no one would notice.
To be fair, I want to give the Congress party more credit. They are stupid yes, but this stupid?
But look at the other global stalwarts. Mr. Manmohan Singh is not the only one hearing the word spineless ever so often these days.
Mr. Barack Obama certainly knows it all too well. I even hear he believes he deserves to patent it. He’s willing to give up rights to the word “change” in exchange.
The debt crisis and the healthcare bill were too jarring to dismiss as the president having a few bad days.
Mr. David Cameron too could use some reminders. He seems to have lost focus… what with all the schmoozing with Murdoch and his cronies. Riots? What, pray tell, is that?
And look who is on the other end of the spectrum.
China would do well by doing what they did to the US credit rating – take it down a couple of notches. Let the trouble begin before taking action. What fun is to clampdown before things get even close to exciting?
Libya – Mr. Gaddafi, are you there? Please don’t be.
I spent some time trying to come up with a masculine and political equivalent to the genius that is the following sentence. But words fail me. Suggestions?
Eli Wallach to Kate Winslet – “In the movies, we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend.”
PS: Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, I meant to use the above as a metaphor. Please don’t take these lines seriously.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Of late, I’ve been wondering a lot about parenting. What with the furore caused by Amy Chua’s passionate article and book, it certainly seems to be a wildly fascinating topic. More so, since I belong to the Indian society where the family unit is tightly knit and parents naturally tend to have tons of expectations from their kids and children take a lot of things for granted when it comes to their folks.
Chua’s theory basically is this – Just keep pushing your child and you’ll produce one of the following: a prodigy, a genius, an all-round star, a wildly talented kid. And for all this to be possible, the kid can basically have no fun at all and cannot do most things that fellow kids do. And this in comparison to how “western” moms raise their children in an article titled “Why Chinese mothers are superior”. No surprise then that the article has and continues to generate passionate responses. Here’s one of the responses the Journal carried.
While I can see why a “Western” reader will be appalled by what Chua has to say, I’d be lying if I say that Chua’s style of parenting does not sound familiar. I’m certain that most Indian kids know of someone who has a demanding parent, if they don’t have one themselves, though it’ll be unwise to think these stereotypes are not changing, both in terms of the “Chinese” and “Western” style of parenting.
Case in point: Judy Murray – mother of rising tennis star, Andy. Now, while I cannot claim to know the exact style of her parenting, those of us who have watched her be a part of the audience while Andy’s playing, may find it hard to not lean towards the possibility that she is a tiger mom. The woman has nothing to do with the Far East but it appears that being an overbearing parent has worked really well for her and even her kids.
The "tiger mom" style of parenting is based on the assumption that competitiveness is absolutely necessary for excellence and if your child is not naturally competent, it’s the parent’s duty to instill this “virtue” in the child. Though there may be some shred of truth to this, I believe the theory largely is largely flawed. Different kinds of incentives work with different kids.
Since tennis is the flavour of the season, let’s consider another example – Li Na. One wonders how much her Chinese mother had to do with her success. Or perhaps, her husband chose to be the tiger mom in her life. Something tells me Ms. Chua has a better theory.
But at the end of the day, it all boils down to one simple fact. Most parents just take a leap of faith and earnestly hope their kids turn alright. And I reckon regardless of the style of parenting, they secretly wish they never have to take blame for their children’s failures and get some credit for their successes.