Irony and America
What can I say about it 2004? It was one of the most stressful years that I can remember. For America, this year saw the added stress of a society divided by the political doublespeak on both sides, perhaps exacerbated by the pressures of an election at home and a dreadful war abroad, making this year into one that I am glad to see go by.
Ironically speaking, in what came as no surprise to most of us, and, as if to rub salt into the festering all round wound, Time magazine awarded person of the year to George W Bush. Kind of a grand finale! There can be no better explanation or proof of the existence of God than the robust second term victory of Bush in the face of all the negatives at home and abroad.
2004 must go down in history as the year in which the faithfuls finally reclaimed the ‘Kingdom’. And I am sure Bush himself would wholeheartedly endorse that conclusion.
Nonetheless, my vote for the person of the year would have gone to Paris Hilton. Besides providing the much needed healing touch, Hilton is more mainstream here than Hilary. This is America: with the release of an amateur porn video on the Internet she went from “Paris who?” – blame it on my ignorance, until then I had only known of either the city or the hotels - to become one of the major celebrities of 2004. I dare you to pick up any magazine or celebrity TV show today without being inundated by this sexed up bimbo. The good news from 2004 is that the seemingly cultural hiatus from Hilton to Hilary is also the fertile ground, which saw a host of desi talent flourish and thrive in it.
And of these, Bobby Jindal, the 33-year old from Baton Rouge, was perhaps the most celebrated; swept to the front pages in the tide of political coverage that accompanied the presidential elections, his Congressional victory was greeted by degrees of both glee and curiosity: the American media wondered aloud about the ethic vote in Louisiana while the Asian press, in its tradition of abdicating national pride to the Diaspora, paraded him shamelessly as yet another example of the ‘Global Indian’. The latter’s hollow coverage continued in glowing reviews of M. Night Shyamalan’s box office sham. Despite failing to make any serious news locally, The Village, the latest incarnation of his thrill formula, was welcomed as a veritable feat of filmmaking by leading dailies back home.