Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Two newspapers were issued notifications yesterday by BICMA. One was chastised for running, exactly, a front-page picture depicting four glasses of beer, and of course, the story was called: “Alcohol Law on its Way: Cheers.” The article was about bars having to raise license fees should the Draft Alcohol Control Regulation, 2011, be implemented.
Everything in that story connects to liquor, because it was obviously about liquor and not oranges. Similarly, another weekly ran a comprehensive coverage of what is a very topical and controversial subject, the Tobacco Control Act and its many ramifications throughout society. It has had not only individual impacts as in the rights of a person, such as choices regarding consumption, with tobacco visibly being the consumed product here. It also affects socioeconomically, with consequences.
Livelihoods are lost; revenue is lost in terms of what is a very taxable product and more divisively, people have been imprisoned for what is basically the right to earn, make a living and sustain a livelihood.
The paper in question carried a comprehensive coverage of the ITC’s (International Tobacco Control) report. A pertinent issue deserving of space – and the frontage illustrated a sketch that portrays the dangers of tobacco consumption. This was not objected to. What was considered unacceptable was yet another sketch in a story titled “Deconstructing the Tobacco Act Evidences.” The stories were balanced, fair, justified and were not objected to.
The sketches were.
BICMA invoked clauses in the BICMA Act that disallows the portrayal of such pictures. If that is the basis, the first question that springs to mind is - “are we such a puritanical society so filled with purists that scenes such as smoking and drinking in reality are mere fantasies?”
Respect is always earned, not warranted. If the media is grow, and is as vital as it is made out to be by all and sundry, then realities on the ground say otherwise.
It’s like what they say about films, which is true for everything else in life, that it mirrors society. Fiction and non-fiction mirroring each other is a debatable issue. What is not is the disconcerting fact that real issues reflecting societal currents are being curtailed.
Just read the Check List drawn for the film community. There is this gem in what is a heap of jewels: to keep depictions of suffering and violence as low as possible.
Well, in an ideal world, who would argue with that?