Monday, April 21, 2008

Olympian Fraud

There is of course more to the olympic torch relay farce than meets the eye. Such as the amusing sight of self-appointed champions of human rights who dare not go too far in their criticism of Beijing. There is nothing new in this - self-interest is the name of the great game. In any case, the olympic games have been a farce for as long as I can remember, a fact I only realised once the decked up ceremonies stopped making sense. It is make believe of the finest kind in the tradition of Hollywood style big budget entertainment. Like Hollywood, the olympics wants bigger productions that are not necessarily better. Now where else have we seen this tendency? World Cup football, cricket, European league football, the tennis calendar... well, pretty much everywhere. Kanchan Gupta sums it up in the last paragraph of his column in The Pioneer: ... The Olympic Games have not only been politicised but also commercialised. China will cynically use the Beijing games to make a larger political statement of Chinese power while sponsors will use it to promote consumer products. Where does the 'Olympic spirit' fit into such crass display of political might and financial clout? The answer: only in the minds of gullible children. - NK

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Indian Bullshit League?

Regardless of whether the IPL will be a mega money spinner for all concerned or a super flop (which I rather hope it is), BULLSHIT is exactly what I think 20-20 cricket is. That's not to say any idiot can go out there and do well, but it is the format itself and what it means for the game (or fans of the game) if it's as big a success as Lalit Modi hopes. I see 20-20 as nothing but a dumbed down version of a game that is interesting because it can be subtle. Test cricket can quite often be frustratingly boring, but we know how insipid the one-day game has become to the point where one-day cricket, not test cricket, is likely to be the first casualty were 20-20 to prosper. Like fast food cannot really be anything other than junk food, I suspect 20-20 offers absolutely nothing "for the soul". It may be a hot commodity now and it may still become the staple in days to come, but it could quickly lose steam as soon as there is a glut of these games. The cricket establishment, particularly Asian boards, milked one-day cricket to the limit and more, leading to so many meaningless games that no one gave a damn about. Are they smarter now? The BCCI doesn't have to be smart. Switching on the TV for cricket is a built-in reflex, probably passed down through the genes, for too many in India. All the talk of how there's new avenues for entertainment that could threaten cricket's dominance still seems a bit premature. The tri-series win sparked much hysteria on TV and elsewhere in the public space, giving lie to the media's sanctimonious claims vis-a-vis the IPL coverage situation. Frankly, cricket coverage (as is much of TV in India) is nauseating to say the least and media whores have just been too eager to feed the monster. A barrage of commercials awaits any unsuspecting viewer every four minutes as if to remind the viewer of his consumption obligation (I found the mix of commercials interesting, there were lots of financial products being pimped throughout the CB series). I have little doubt things will be back to normal soon after the obligatory last minute patch up between BCCI and media organisations. To get back to IPL, the bidding pattern and various people involved makes crystal clear what IPL is about. It's about more merchandising, more revenue, bigger television deals and lots of bullshit. I speak of course with no authority whatsoever, but I think fans will quickly tire of 20-20, quicker than it took for one-day cricket (doesn't mean people don't watch it).