The ‘Bigg Boss’ show on Vijay TV, which consumed a considerable amount of time of Tamil masses every night, has come to an end. The centre of attraction of the show is not Kamal Haasan but the desire to see the private lives of the participants. That’s the success of ‘reality shows’.
A few years ago, Union Minister Smriti Irani found a hidden camera in the dressing room of a Fab India accessory store in Goa. The incident highlighted the privacy risks that Indians face today.
Though the Supreme Court has ruled that privacy is a fundamental right, we still don’t care enough to protect that right. Twenty or thirty years ago, if you ask a stranger where he was from, he may not give you the answer. But now, most people don’t even hesitate to post their private activities on social media.
The ‘digital age’ is commoditising privacy. One of its ultimate manifestations is ‘Bigg Boss’. As more people turn voyeurists, event organisers make more profit. Even this business function can be ignored. But we cannot ignore the political implications of this. Voyeuristic attitude in turn leads to ‘exhibitionist’ attitude. A person conditioned by ‘reality shows’ does not care about the government monitoring his privacy. He himself becomes devoted to it. This is the victory of the ‘Fascist’ regime.
In today’s so-called digital age, question arises whether there is a place for privacy. Earlier, if a woman’s dignity is violated in public, it is temporary. Those who see it are few in numbers. But digital technology has now made it instant and permanent.
Today, digital technology has made it easy for someone to lose their dignity not only in public spaces but also in private spaces. It can also be spread around the world instantaneously. Such image recordings shared in public domain on the internet are permanent in nature and cannot be deleted.
Voyeurism reduces man to a mere body. It commodifies and degrades. Today’s ‘pornography’ industry is based on mental disorders including voyeurism. It is not just a matter of morality. It’s about politics. It’s about power.
Fascist government destroys citizens without privacy. It trusts no one and envies everyone. Voyeurism too works on the same principle. Voyeurism succeeds in promoting fascist attitudes. Many who oppose fascism on the political level are ignorant of its activities on the cultural level. So, they unconsciously reproduce it. Mr. Kamal himself is a good proof.
Kamal Haasan, who recently joined Rahul Gandhi in Bharat Jodo Yatra and declared himself a secularist, is unknowingly helping the same fascist ideology that he resists. We all admired him as an artiste. But it is the same Kamal who hosts ‘Bigg Boss’, a show that commodifies privacy. Those who do not realise that privacy is a fundamental right can never stand up to fascist onslaught.
Food for thought
Today’s ‘pornography’ industry is based on mental disorders including voyeurism. It is not just a matter of morality. It’s about politics. It’s about power
Footnote is a weekly column that discusses issues relating to Tamil Nadu
D Ravikumar, author, translator and Lok Sabha MP from Viluppuram