The YouTube video for ‘Aalu Anday’ may have made Beyghairat Brigade an instant Internet sensation while making the politicians and officials who were the targets of their satire uncomfortable. But there’s one group in particular that should have felt especially shamed by the popularity of ‘Aalu Anday’, and that’s the media which avoids any confrontation with truly controversial issues, choosing instead to focus its wrath on the easy targets of politicians and wild conspiracy theories.
This habit of attacking easy targets and ignoring more powerful ones does not go unnoticed. A BBC report on the Aalu Anday sensation pointed squarely at the media’s lack of attention to serious issues as a driving cause of the video’s popularity.
Ordinarily, satire on Pakistani television is tolerably amusing but not very daring.
It only really targets the harmless figures on the political landscape – the politicians. They are easy prey, veteran comedians argue, because they do not truly hold the reins of power.
There are more than a dozen comedy shows that Pakistani channels broadcast weekly. They include skits, rants and Indian film songs adapted to the political situation.
But the more insidious presence of Pakistan’s intelligence services and also the army – which many believe are the true power-brokers in the country – are conspicuously absent from comedy fare…
Although politician-bashing is the rage, many feel that truly free intellectual debate and parody are lacking as far as TV goes.
And so a group of three young people have shown the courage to speak out about the powers that be while so-called journalists continue peddling the same worn out conspiracy theories and safely throwing punches at the politicians who they know will not hit back.
In fact, if a politician or government official dares to respond to their rumours and conspiracies, our friends in the journalism community are quick to scream about free speech and oppression. But their silence on the issues that really matter, while a group of kids boldly calls things as they are, exposes the weakness of their claims of being fearless defenders of media freedom.