The Art Of The ‘Rant’: Why News Must Convince Us That Something Is Wrong All The Time

Posted by Harihar Menon in Society
June 19, 2018

Start your day by jumping off a cliff or perhaps electrocuting yourself. No? Scared?  Indeed, what is dangerous should be feared.

Well, you can start your day with anything dangerous but nothing is as dangerous as the first page of a news daily. The fear words can bring about cannot be expressed in – well – words. The reports make you feel like yesterday was a blot in human history but that’s just every day.

Sit back. Relax. Look at the world around you. It’s not perfect. People talk of selfies more than they talk of the self. Gloomy, unsafe, chaotic, misguided – well, I am just being modest about the world. However, conveniently, the imperfections are sidelined and the centre stage is given to the rant. People shouting on your TV screens, someone lecturing about nationalism, someone else about freedom. Some criticise the government, some criticise those who criticise. Oh boy, it’s fun. An orchestrated propaganda to convince us that nothing is going all right. Fear, in its essence, is the perfect ingredient to serve news.

MPs sleep in the parliament or watch porn and mostly don’t attend the session. Well, that is what happens right? Actually, that is what sells. If I told you that in the 15th Lok Sabha session, over 110 MPs had an attendance of over 90% – MPs Arjun Ram Meghwal (MP of  Bikaner) and Shailendra Kumar (MP of Kaushambi) have participated in 430 and 353 parliamentary debates respectively – this wouldn’t allow the art of the rant. You want to hear of crimes, riots, frauds; you want a chaotic evening primetime to give you a stable day ahead. The little appreciation for the system is ebbed out in a wave of fear that has engulfed the space of social thought.

You don’t want to hear of Armstrong Pame, the IAS officer from Manipur who went on to make a 100 km road in the state just by crowdsourcing or Ashutosh Niranjan, District Magistrate of Gondi, UP who started the “Coffee with the collector” initiative to identify people’s problems better. This kind of news does not fuel our frenzy for change; it merely satisfies us.

News content avoids contentment because otherwise, we stop worshipping the false god of modernity – that is the rant. This god thrives in the basic human illusion of a perfect world. This is the same god that makes liberals protest for causes and also radicalises Hindutva groups against a modern view of thought, a religion that dismisses mutual adjustment and creates polar opposites in society, both of which fear the world of the other, both of which believe that nothing is fine and they need to take absolute control. Both of which are promised development by the rant. We all are part of this modern day religion.

I don’t know who is right. I see potholes in front of me and a bit of road. I’m reminded of the rant. I want to criticise the entire system, somehow absolve myself of it.  Then I see children playing in these potholes, splashing water. I feel peace, contentment. For a second, I reject the development the rant had to offer; I appreciate my democracy and prefer potholes instead.