If you haven’t seen the 2002 film, ‘Equilibrium‘, by Kurt Wimmer, I strongly urge you to see it. Yes, the film’s poster makes it look like a B-grade take on Matrix, but it is not. It is hugely under-rated, one of the reasons why you haven’t seen it yet – if you haven’t.
The plot is interesting… and simple. From IMDB:
In a futuristic world, a strict regime has eliminated war by suppressing emotions: books, art and music are strictly forbidden and feeling is a crime punishable by death. Cleric John Preston (Bale) is a top ranking government agent responsible for destroying those who resist the rules. When he misses a dose of Prozium, a mind-altering drug that hinders emotion, Preston, who has been trained to enforce the strict laws of the new regime, suddenly becomes the only person capable of overthrowing it.
A key dialog, explaining the premise of the film goes,
Prozium – The great nepenthe. Opiate of our masses. Glue of our great society. Salve and salvation, it has delivered us from pathos, from sorrow, the deepest chasms of melancholy and hate. With it, we anesthetize grief, annihilate jealousy, obliterate rage. Those sister impulses towards joy, love, and elation are anesthetized in stride, we accept as fair sacrifice. For we embrace Prozium in its unifying fullness and all that it has done to make us great.
I’m guessing our film stars perhaps want a generous dose of Prozium administered on us, the common citizens who have tons of vituperative and disparaging things to say about them and their films. How else would you explain the spate of stars quitting Twitter (for instance) and the hoo-haa made around it?
Think about it. Stars go to theater visits and in the dark ambiance of the theater, the audience gets an atmosphere similar to Twitter – anonymity to shout one’s mind out. So, they shout abuses and make fun of stars and their scenes in the darkness. Some of it goes down well with others, who applaud and laugh at the side reel.
What would the stars do in that situation? Leave the theater forever and vow never to do theater visits again? Of course not!
The trouble is, stars perhaps don’t understand that opinions – good, euphoric, idolatry, abusive, insulting (etc…) have existed long before Twitter or any social network came into the scene. They just need to step out of their air-conditioned caravans to hear them – they are all around us, in the real world. You take in what you need and ignore the rest that seems pointless. That’s what one does when a mob of say 200 watches you shoot on location and passes wisecracks. You move on… and not swear that you’d never do on-location shoots again.
In a way, stars are lucky that they can listen to all this good, bad and ugly chatter. This is the real world buzz, very different from what their paid sycophants would have them believe.
There are smart stars who have got this. Amitabh is a great example – the man is prolific with his commentary and occasionally interacts where necessary – a sign that he has nailed the PR angle of social media really well. In such a scenario, it is surprising that seemingly sensible and PR-savvy stars like Shah Rukh Khan dropping off platforms like Twitter with alleged reasons like negativity and judgmental opinion.
As with every tool of communication, social media, and Twitter in particular, is a combination of every kind of opinion. But, unlike the offline world where immediacy and the element of face-to-face can unleash passionate reactions from the consumer of these opinions, the relative anonymity of social media helps stars (or anyone) to consume such opinions when one wants to and think before reacting. If one is sensible, that is.
I’m really wondering – did the stars really expect only good, and diplomatically and politely articulated criticism from Twitter and rest of social media? If so, that is beyond naive.
Tamil comedian Goundamani – fondly referred to as ‘Gounder’ by his fans, puts it best in his iconic dialog that goes, ‘Arasiyalla idhellaam sadhaaranamappa!‘. It literally means, ‘All this is very, very normal in politics’, after being shown the cut cable of the land-line phone he was ‘speaking’ (and bragging his connections) in it for the last 1 minute! Just replace ‘politics’ with ‘cinema’.
Dead Twitter bird image courtesy: Village Voice.