Friday, November 21, 2014
The Cult Of Mediocrity
So there I was one day this week, arguing with a colleague about the relative merits and demerits of a bunch of students of whom a few were exceptional, most moderate and fewer were really pain-in-the-necks. We were collating the yearly attendance to forward to the university for exams and as the painy-types had been absent for more than half the working year – making them ineligible to appear for the exams- my colleague was arguing for giving everyone the required percentage of attendance regardless of whether they had actually turned up or not to the clinics. I, on my part, said it was unfair, unfair to equate the kids who had come in at all times, on all days, rains or riots notwithstanding, to attend to patients who required care; if they were in the end to be lumped along with others who had probably taken it easy by sleeping off all day and turning up only when/if they felt like it. Colleague argued that it was not fair to punish the students life like this over such a little thing like lack of attendance to which I replied “but madam if they didn’t attend the clinics, didn’t treat actual patients, didn’t learn anything, I shudder to think of the damage they will do to people, real patients in the real world, once you release them like this on an unsuspecting world”.
Colleague demurred and said that they still have to pass the university exams to which I reminded her of the unspoken but neverthless strictly enforced regulations of giving a 100% pass percentage to every batch of students (by the simple expedient of punishing the teachers if a student fails) on the theory that students are sensitive people and they will not take the rejection of failing so easily and cant be forced to read and appear again for the same subject after six months. If everyone knows that they are all going to pass anyway, I argued, then what the hell are they going to study for? You are removing the incentive to study, to learn, the incentive of humiliation- of being left behind in a class of your juniors while your batchmates go on ahead. Remove that fear and you remove all necessity for knowledge. And I said I really sympathized with those idiots (for want of a more apropriate word) who knowing all this, knowing that they simply have to appear for an exam to pass, knowing all this and still working hard, still studying so much, waking up in the early mornings, reading all night, the kids who are dedicated to learning and to shining in the profession – those kids who don’t know better but are simply moved by an inner urge to succeed.
And it was only when the said colleague sympathised with and continued to espouse the cause of the lazy shits by arguing and pushing strongly for them that I realized that she had a different (hidden) agenda- she was merely demonstrating the “like bats for the like” principle or the “cover your ass by covering your people’s ass” thing. Those who thrive in mediocrity recognize only the mediocre- they are intentionally blind to the bright and the exceptional. Those who benefit and get through for reasons other than pure merit and talent are perforce forced to defend those of their own ilk as they remind them of themselves when younger. The mediocre at all levels and ages hate the bright and the brilliant- even if the brilliance is a product of hidden hard work and uncounted hours spent slaving in preparation while others take it easy and sleep. It’s so sad to see this cult of mediocrity spread even to educational instituitions- where donkeys are encouraged to amble while horses are hobbled. Everywhere I look in our country I see this same indifference to excellence and an encouragement to mediocrity –for the lazy are an abundant lot while the hardworking are we few.
After the above said episode I am reluctant to pass on my knowledge to the next generation as I am more and more convinced that it is going to be unwanted, unappreciated and an exercise in futility. I am even rethinking working here at the teaching hospital, watching the tragedy of bright students getting crushed everyday while the idiots are coddled and feted. All this unnneccessary stress is giving me heartburn and ulcers. So I am planning to shift back to hospital practice and leave the trainign of the next generation surgeons to the wise administrators and their numerous followers who act on the principle “that everyone is equal and no one should get hurt”. This kind of egalitarianism should work out very well for our society when these same batches of student passouts start practicing in the coming years. I am pretty damn sure that my practice will shine all the brighter and my waiting rooms will be fuller once people realize the kind of doctors they have everywhere because of their encouragement of the mediocre and incompetents. To borrow from Actor Vijay (of Thupakki fame)- I am waiting.
Sunday, November 9, 2014
An Invitation For A Public Kiss-In
So I got this email today from some guys who label themselves as free thinkers and who are organizing a- what they call a public kiss-a-thon to show all those old conservative fuddy-duddy rss types that “hell yeah, we CAN” the “Can” in this instance referring to kissing-in-public. On my first read of the mail and even on my second, I was non-plussed. Why, oh why, do they want me to kiss in public? Did any of my ex girlfriends blab about what a great kisser I am? Did they share the technical details of their rapture with total strangers (the above-mentioned free thinkers) who then decided to invite me to headline this, of all events? Ahhh...the price of fame…. Hmm…I can hear you smirking dear reader so let’s pass over my technical skills in the love making department and move on to less personal things.
Now, I am a big votary of kissing- I vote with my lips for kissing and more kissing given every opportunity. But I am certainly not in favor of kissing in public or any other kind of pda shit which makes me go “aww, get a room guys”. For there’s such a thing as exhibitionism and perversion both of which are closely related to each other. If someone feels an over arching urge to kiss someone else (lets skip the specifics on this) it isn’t asking too much to have them hold on to the thought till they get some privacy for themselves where they can do it to their hearts content. And don’t talk to me about the mood and the moment- last I heard -the lips don’t need an erection to kiss. If you are able to hold on to it and don’t piss in public or shit in public or fuck in public you don’t really need to kiss in public- unless you are just doing it to make a point- that the public space is your personal space and regardless of place or time- your personal feelings have no boundaries and you can act as you wish.
In fact, the only one instance i can think of as a mitigating factor for public display of affection is innocent youth. We were all young at one time and I think its quite understandable and excusable (for public kissing) when are young and in your teens and you don’t know when/where/with who you are going to smooch your next kiss from and don’t want to waste the opportunity you get at a weak moment of your partner- in that “making hay while the sun shines/totally spontaneous decision to kiss moment” that I can understand and sympathize with. The root cause for which is the overcrowding populace of our country with very little privacy everywhere- including our homes where even the parents (and annoying siblings) get to drop in every few minutes even into the privacy of our rooms- just to keep tabs on whats going on. But to cold-bloodedly plan to kiss someone in public in front of all the world- it’s either a stunt to prove what a stud you are or simply a kind of perversion where you indulge in exhibitionism in public – neither of which applies to me.
So, I am not going to bore with a lecture on good old Indian values vs. western freedoms and things like that. All I want to say is that personal freedoms and freedom of expression have nothing to do with the fight to kiss in public. The right to speak your mind against the enemies of mankind and against despots who crushed humanity and the human spirit cannot be degraded to the level of being a justification for public displays of affection. Think the pre-French revolution monarchy, think the communist gulags of Russia, think the fascist book burning Nazis, think (closer to home) the jallianwallbagh British empire – those are the kind of fights humanity fought against to demand personal freedoms and freedom of thought, speech and action- not the freedom to kiss in front of a million people. And its idiots like this who first trivialize and subsequently disgrace all those hard fought freedoms for which thousands gave their lives to defend. It’s insulting and degrading to utilize such lofty concepts for such perversions. If you really want to show your kissing skills in public guys, make an mms and watsapp it to the world – just don’t call it “THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM”. That’s a blatant lie. And its insulting to all the rest of us.
And finally, I am not going to the public kiss-a-thon, even if they offer to provide me with a good looking girl to kiss- its just not in me- no thanks- the decline’s in the mail.
P.S. by the way, what the ----- in-hell does a free thinker mean? Are they insinuating that the rest of us, the world at large, are made of paid thinkers? Isn’t that insulting to all of womankind?
P.P.S. if I said the above with regard to men- mankind-getit- there wouldn’t be much of a reaction, would it? Men tend to shrug and laugh things off…but reference something as an insult to womankind, and you can be sure that the wannabe feminist brigade would wade in to strip the free thinkers off to their bones…two birds in one stone, what say?
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Katthi Vs Tropic Thunder…Which Is The Real Spoof On The Audience?
So last weekend I spent watching two movies back to back- the Tamil film kathhi starring actor Vijay and the English film tropic thunder starring Ben stiller. The reason I watched them one after the other immediately is because they both run on a single topic- the second one being a spoof on the first. And the theme if you haven’t guessed it by now is “action stars Oscar aspirations”. Now I know that’s a mouthful but nevertheless that’s the theme of this post. Now we all know – in fact its never been a secret - that be it Hollywood, Bollywood or Kollywood- some big stars – action stars especially often have unfulfilled fantasies of turning thespians and giving in the performance of their lives- acting chops wise- to earn the adulation of carping critics and be recognized winners of the best actor awards rather than the most popular actor awards. This fever (or madness) more or less affects almost all big stars at one time or the other in their career- be it Schwarzenegger with his Kindergarten Cop, Stallone with any of his non-Rocky movies, Statham with his non-Transporter movies and even Jackie Chan with the Jaden smith starring Karate Kid.
What these stars seem not to realize is that the audiences come to watch their films precisely because they have a well defined sensibility of giving what the audience wants and not to watch pure acting or method acting or the ten hankies were drenched with tears kinda acting. And when the star becomes too trippy for his own good and forgets the audience and decides to satisfy only his critics he ends up doing a disaster movie of epic proportions which falls flat between two stools satisfying neither – the audience nor the critics. After all if the star had movable facial muscles he wouldn't be doing slam-bang action movies right from the start of his career would he? Audiences know the stars limits - their acting talents or lack thereof and still turn up to watch their movies for other things and so it’s quite tragic when the stars themselves don’t know their limitations or forget it in their ego-filled trips and choose awards over their audiences.
This aspect of the ego-trips stars take to end up in disaster is showcased in one of the greatest spoof-movies Hollywood made- Tropic Thunder where Ben Stiller spoofs this oscar mania in a movie-within- a movie called “Simple Jack” wherein he tries to show off his acting abilities to get that elusive Oscar award which is nevertheless denied to him for being , wait for it, too realistic a portrayal of retard…and as Robert Downey Jr advises him in a pivotal scene in the movie- never go full retard man, they don’t like it- which advice is apt for all these action stars- never go full actor man- they don’t like it. This extreme limits to which actors go to be recognized by critics and peers as a, well an “actor” in inverted caps is what lifts Tropic Thunder from your average spoof movie into far higher realms. Every time you watch the film you get to see layers and layers peeled off the hides of action stars who want “respectability”. The movie ends very poignantly with a message- “know yourself man, know who you are and stay true to yourself”. Which advice is eminently applicable to actor vijay and director murugadoss and the entire katthi team.
When you go to watch a vijay movie you have certain expectations- the bare basic expectation of being entertained for the next two hours being the most primary one. But with Katthi the actor or maybe the director has forgotten this basic commandment and moved into award territory. They have taken a worthwhile issue and using a faulty screenplay which sags and drags for a large part of the movie and a wholly cinematic ending involving the hero fighting 50 bad guys etc have managed to shake the audience faith in the vijay “genre” formula. I am not saying that vijay shouldn't act in such films- after all as an individual its his right to decide the movies he is gonna make but as a member of the pay for tickets and watch in theatre public, I for one will hesitate to watch a vijay movie in the future without reading all the reviews- because now I know that it may or not be a typical vijay movie and can even be a preachy- social issues-artsy movie starring vijay as one of the characters.
This diminishing of the stars “star value” for want of a better term is what saddens me as a vijay fan and and as a fan of potboiler mass masala movies. If even vijay can compromise for the critics sake what hope is there for the average movie fan like me who expects and demands a non-intellectual “no-issues only entertainment” movie with the mandatory 3 duets and 4 fights screenplay? Or maybe I should just stick to watching Telugu movies henceforth- at least Mahesh Babu and Pawan Kalyan will never betray their fans like this. Or wait for the next Ben Stiller movie with bated breath – for there’s an actor who knows himself.