Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why I Got Angry at JRod

On May 25, JRod posted this and I got angry and posted a comment on his blog about patronising Aussies etc. He replied and explained his p.o.v. which is a reasonable one. It made me wonder why I got so worked up. Here's my reasons, which I felt deserved a full post -

1. Like most Indian bloggers/observers, I'm real proud of the IPL, which is definitely the best Cricket tournament going around right now. In fact the divide is very stark between Indian and non-Indian bloggers in opinions relating to IPL. Most Indians feel its a good thing, and most non-Indians, specially Aussies and Poms, hate it.

2. Unlike JRod, who says "Too much 2020, no matter who is playing or organising, is just too much." to us Indians there is no such thing as too much Cricket, of any kind. An Indian to have too much of Cricket is like the Pope having too much religion. Why Cricket is such a religious thing for Indians is hard to explain to non-Indians. Maybe its because we're a one sport country unlike say Australia where Ski Instructors moonlight as fast bowlers. Maybe because we're reasonably good at atleast this one sport. Maybe because it is the one thing outside our freedom struggle folklore which unites all of India as one nation. Whatever it is, Cricket is just too close to our hearts. You would not get it if you're not an Indian.

3. I must confess that I actually enjoyed some of the buffoonery that went on among the commentators at the IPL. It was funny to see SMG trying to keep a straight face while American cheerleaders did somersaults before him on a cricket pitch. Danny Morrison was consistently cheerful despite some of the borderline insulting stuff thrown his way by Ravi Shastri and Rameez. The only commentator in fact who makes me cringe is Ravi Shastri. Someone should get him with a tracer bullet. If you think Danny "DenZongpa" Morrisson's antics were unpopular in India, you'd be surprised. We loved Henry Blofeld expounding on women's earrings in the Sharjah tournaments. Tony Greig and Geoff Boycott are beloved across India for their colorful commentary. Billy Bowden has his own TV endorsement deal and an agent in India. We love theater, and all Indians agree that White people are too uptight and need to lighten up a bit. Danny was not being over the top - for us, he was just getting into the spirit of things. For more on this, see number 7 below.

4. We Indians don't really mind Lalit Modi. Seriously, we don't. He may be uniquely charmless and crass, but so what. An Indian will always wonder what the big deal is with Modi when the Sports world has tolerated the likes of Samaranch, Blatter etc. He is modelling himself consciously on the American league commissioners - on Roger Goodell and David Stern, who command great power and influence in America. Even Condy Rice once claimed that her dream job would be NFL Commissioner - this when she was the Sec State of the most powerful nation on earth, and an ex-Oil major CEO!! Can you blame Modi? We know he's an idiot, but he's our idiot, and after nearly a century of the ICC treating us like we treat Kenya or Namibia today, we've earned it. Atleast he's not Malcolm Speed - he actually delivers a good show and his games actually finish. So there.

5. The empty stands thing was about par for the course for any tournament. In fact, I'd say attendance was far better than at the last Cricket WC in the WestIndies. If it had been held in India, the stadia would have been overflowing like last year, but what was amazing was the number of people who turned up in SA despite having to pay for it - remember in India last year the sponsors were giving out free passes to get people to show up. I think IPL 2 actually made some gate money, which is just amazing for a supplanted foreign tournament anywhere.

6. The fly-cam was a direct import from the US, where it is used in all sports, and specially the NFL where it is a staple of Monday Night Football. It neither added nor detracted value for me. If you don't mind stump cam, then whats the big deal with fly cam (the name does sound suspiciously like a camera in Ravi Shastri's open fly, but thankfully we were spared that.)

7. The closing ceremony WAS overwrought and overlong, but thats Bollywood. Again, you have to get Bollywood to get India. In fact I'd postulate that unless you get Bollywood, you have no hope of ever getting India or Indians. We love spectacle. Non-Indians do not get Bollywood, and therefore maybe excused for not liking or understanding the IPL closing ceremony. And yes, Akon is a star in India, much as I cringe at that. The Indians are paying the bills this time around, as we keep on reminding everybody, and we will pick our own entertainment, thank you very much. You may prefer Coldplay or something equally faggy. Akon does it for us and Akon it shall be.

And you have to agree that the elephant condoms floating in the air with candles lit inside were an exceptionally nice touch. At least THAT I hope you liked, JRod. Who does not love a good elephant condom?


jrod said...

Yenjie, Funny how both of our articles focus on the show and not the cricket...

I would make some points, I watch more cricket than at least 95% of Indians, including those who claim cricket is their religion. I watch, talk about write about cricket more than 99% of Indians, so i think I can match if with Indians for loving cricket. And I've never been a ski instructor.

The fly cam brought nothing to the coverage, I only saw one instance in the entire tournament where it was useful, stump cam usually has a good angle at least once a game.

My comments on the empty stands were not about the fact they were empty, but that Lalit told the cameramen not to show them.

If Coldplay were there I would have bagged Lalit for poor taste in Music, but at least it would have been someone who understood and liked cricket. Not some lying criminal who owns diamond mines and has no tie in with India or cricket.

Yenjie said...

What about the Elephant Condoms then?

Yenjie said...

PS - if you saw the ICL coverage at all, they were actually not just blanking out the empty stands, but actually sometime replaying the same footage of camera panning over tiny stand full of fans going nuts over and over again to maintain the illusion of stupendous popularity. No one was fooled. I doubt if the cameramen have to be told not to show empty stands anymore, anywhere. Its standard policy now. Also, here in the US, the IPL coverage is uninterrupted - no SonyMax, No Mandira, no ads. So even between overs and during the stragedy breaks etc, we see the grounds. To my surprise, I saw the grounds could have been far emptier than they really were. Even for the last few meaningless league games in Kimberly or PE, a fair amount of people turned up, though not a full house by any means. I guess what I'm saying is the crowds could have been much worse than they were. I guess the public in SA caught on after the first week that despite the hoopla and circus, the cricket was pretty serious.

The fly cam was just something the TV guys were trying out. Added nothing to the coverage, I wholly agree.

Didn't know about Akon's diamond mine. I seriously don't get the point of opening/closing/halftime ceremonies in any sports - its an American thing about packaging entertainment that Indians have imported. The fireworks were nice though. Jacob Zuma thanking Shakrook, Pree-eighty, and Shilpa Shetty in his speech was the funniest moment for me. Saw Shilpa in earnest conversation with Zuma earlier during the game. Can't even imagine what the topic was - probably their shared history of struggle against racism.

jrod said...

I never saw the elephant condoms, and feel worse off because of it.

You can't compare it to the ICL, I saw Kapil Dev learning how to dance like a cheerleader before the semi final. And Tony Greig was involved, so enough said. That was a train wreck event, although perversely entertaining because of it.