Naomi Datta finds that her ability to outrage on twitter is being impaired by a clinical malady – reading

Flix Friday, January 16, 2015 - 05:30
By Naomi Datta Last morning – I read in passing an interview in The Hindu with mercurial filmmaker Anurag Kashyap. You can read it here. What I remembered of the interview was Kashyap saying we need to remove the stigma from rape. His point or rather a point of view that someone else had given him was that rape is often bundled with patriarchal notions of izzat (honour) and if we could delink the two and treat rape like we would treat a violent, terrible accident it would help the survivor heal faster. In itself, it wasn’t something that hasn’t been said before and not a viewpoint you could be offended by. Even if you tried. I didn’t try particularly I must confess. I went to Twitter instead – posted a few lame jokes about Shahrukh and Salman hugging exactly a year after they hugged in the first place, got one or two disinterested RTS and logged off. It was clearly an off day for me on social media. Vaguely disgruntled, I put my need for revalidation on the back burner and chugged along with a dreary day. A few hours later, Twitter was hit by a hurricane of outrage. My timeline was flooded by allegations of misogyny and worse – trivialization of rape. How could Anurag Kashyap, a progressive film-maker call rape ‘a bad accident’? This was a cavalier, callous take on the violation of a woman and an essentially patriarchal view. Panic stricken, I hurriedly went back to read the interview annoyed that I had missed out on an opportunity to take Twitter by storm. I read it again- and in spite of my best efforts at working myself into a rage, I remained unmoved. Can you imagine how utterly frustrated I was – the deprivation of missing out on a good bout of outrage on a relatively dull day? I thought of the venom I could have spewed and the RTS I could have got and felt an aching sense of loss. In desperation, I re- read it – nothing happened.  After deep introspection, I came to the following possible conclusions about why the interview had not offended me enough.  1. I was not angry2. I was not a feminist3. I was not an angry feminist4. I was a MCP5. I had read the whole article. After a careful process of elimination, I came to the drab, damaging conclusion that it was No 5. I was a pedant who read interviews in their entirety. I was revolted by my dim powers of comprehension –who reads ENTIRE articles to understand them anymore? Isn’t it so much smarter to just pick up on one stray comment or phrase and build a mountain of outrage on it?  The words that the more evolved outraged had picked up were ‘bad accident’. So this is how they built their case. Rape equals bad accident equals trivialization equals twitter lynching. This is how I built my case. Rape equals accident without stigma equals valid POV equals tweeting lame SRK jokes instead. No prizes for guessing the loser in the battle for RTS. By then Anurag Kashyap who had deleted his twitter account in a fit of rage over unrelated issues quite some time back was worried enough to post this rambling riposte. He said he had been misquoted – if you read the entire article if you are as doltish as I am, you will realize that there is no misquoting just misreading. But by then, I had moved beyond the need to advocate Kashyap’s faults of inarticulacy and had to articulate my failings. Over the past few weeks, I have developed a malady which I would like to diagnose as The Outrage Block Syndrome. The chief and only cause of this is reading entire news items and articles. It is a dangerous malaise which can circumscribe your power to post outraged tweets. It reduces your social media luminosity and is the first step to chronic depression for an attention junkie like me. I noticed it ten days back- when I yet again made the fatal error of reading the entire interview that Dr Harsh Vardhan, the Union Health Minister gave to an international publication. The Minister had said that when it came to fighting AIDS, his ministry would like to stress on an approach that involved abstinence, fidelity and condoms. Everyone else wisely disregarded the condoms bit of the approach ( ABC- Abstinence, Be Faithful, Wear Condoms is actually just by the way a global practice in fighting AIDS) – and headlines and tweets hollered a return to the Dark Ages. Yet again, I found my potential for massive outrage thwarted by this compulsive need to read things in their context. Fortunately, I was redeemed partly by the minister’s controversial views a few days later on sex education on his personal website and briefly went back to the ranks of the outraged. Gladdened by what I thought was a passing aberration; I returned to twitter emboldened and outraged. But this latest Kashyap episode confirms my worst fears – clearly I haven’t been able to shake off this need to think and read before I tweet. But there is hope – now that I know there is a malady, I am taking remedial steps. I am reading only headlines, skipping entire paragraphs and picking up stray words to react to in a complex scientific procedure of elimination called ‘In Pin Safety Pin, In Pin Out’. These are but slow faltering steps but with each misstep and misreading, my power to outrage is amplified. I am confident enough now to even think of floating support groups and rehab schemes for the similarly affected. To quote an infamous crime show host of a time gone by, ‘Together we can – and we will’ Yours Truly. India’s Most Outraged (To track Naomi’s progress in fighting off OBS –Outrage Block Syndrome, Follow @nowme_datta)