For the Express Television Network, Shahid Afridi is going to educate the masses about how to gain spirituality during Ramazan! As the cricketer will be fasting throughout this holy month, he won't be able to play cricket. But to fill the monetary loss for missing his cricket series, he has signed a Ramazan deal
In the Pakistani news media, anchors are analogous to entertainers, but their entertainment has become predictable. Their monotonous attitude has made infotainment discourse extremely boring. Moreover the public narrative that private television creates is overwhelmingly conservative. This means there is an explicit penchant toward fundamentalism.
It is unfortunate that the media chatter house has become Pakistan’s defining source of public discourse. Many people actually consider these private TV channels as institutions working for people’s rights. They think these capitalistic firms are speaking on their behalf.
Actually this is never the case. The fundamental goal of any business is to maximise profit. They don’t give a hoot for any issue that might reduce their profitability. The goal of the private media is to sell advertising so that people will buy these products.
Ramazan is a jackpot for all media tycoons in Pakistan. In the coming month, these tycoons are going to use spirituality to boost their profit. At the start of the second half of FY2012 all media channels – whether news, entertainment or infotainment – are preparing to extract the last drop of “financial juice” from this opportunity. News anchors, fashion designers, and self-tagged entertainers-cum-Islamic scholars will help the poor nation understand Islam. The poorest of the poor will pay Rs. 25.00 (+ tax) per minute, if they want to hang on with their religion.
Some media tycoons have released their Ramazan promos (just like a Hollywood film releases a trailer).
The entertainer for Geo Television network will be Dr. (false PhD) Amir Liaquat. With his expensive designer suits, his Oscar-winning sobbing, his impromptu talk and the dexterous use of his hands he will be a magnet drawing hundreds to turn on their television at day break and sunset. This entertainer will laugh, cry, joke, intellectualize, cook and blabber all the month long. But his program is a nightmare for the Ahmadi community. Two years ago his speeches played a role in instigating the killing of Ahmadis, and resulted in two deaths. Let's see what this televangelist do this Ramazan.
Next comes Dr. (I guess either in quackery or homeopathy) Shahid Masood, whose most distinguishing characteristic is his hair transplant. He'll be hosting the Ramazan transmission for the ARY group. A fundamentalist by conviction, he is educating the masses to fear the Lord. For the last decade, this man has tried to portray the rightist school of thought as Pakistan’s only possible saviour. His program has given the maximum talk time to guests such as Hameed Gul- the Red General, Zaid Hamid-the Conspirator, Orya Maqbool Jan- the chauvinist scholar, Imran Khan-the Tsunami man, Ansaar Abbasi-the crying patriot and Dr. Israr Ahmed. He allows his guests to caricature people like Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy and Asma Jahangir and he ridicules liberal and intellectual dissents.
Next month, Masood promises a Ramazan show with Mrs. Maya Khan, the general of moral policing. She recently accosted two teenagers relaxing in a park, coming out of nowhere to teach them her version of Islamic morality. Masood and Khan will entertain TV viewers with non-Hijabi fundamentalism!
For the Express Television Network, Shahid Afridi — a famous Pakistani cricketer — is going to educate the masses about how to gain spirituality during Ramazan! As the cricketer will be fasting throughout this holy month, he won't be able to play cricket. But to fill the monetary loss for missing his cricket series, he has signed a Ramazan deal. As viewer demands for spirituality grows, the demand for cricket decreases. Hence capital moves from sponsoring cricket to sponsoring religion.
I can't comment on the result of this transformation of a working cricketer into a television evangelist. Clearly religious influence didn’t help the Pakistani cricket team win the series against Sri Lanka, but it did aid Sahid Afridi in becoming a religious entertainer.
I think these examples might explain what Karl Marx said when he called religion the soul of soulless society. Capitalist enterprises are going to make millions of rupees during Ramazan. They will boost consumerism by advertising brand-name clothes. Their stars will prepare delicious food, tempting others to emulate them. On the other hand, a father of six living somewhere in Layari (a poor locality in Karachi), will try to condole his small children when they ask their mother to cook the same food Uncle Liaquat, Uncle Afridi and Aunty Maya cooked when breaking their fast.