When David Bowie found Rule Britannia to be out of bounds, I wasn’t so surprised. The patriotic chant becomes meaningless to the people who weren’t in the ruling class. I’m talking about two lines from “Life on Mars?” a David Bowie song. The song represents contemporary issues surrounding pop culture. One such issue that I want to bring up is modern-day patriotism and its impact on the audience.
When Bowie released this song in 1971, the British Empire was going through its exit strategy. The War in Vietnam soured the public and troop morale. Before all of that, German author Paul Maria Remarque lamented how his brothers-in-arms died in the name of patriotism during World War I. His novel, “All Quiet on the Western Front.” highlights the decadence of patriotism and the brutality and pointlessness of war.
In India, the masses glorify Bollywood as a religion. The treatment of celebrities is complete royalty. Our people put the Khans, the Kapoors, the Bachchans on pedestals. So it doesn’t come as to surprise that Bollywood capitalizes on patriotism. Especially after Lagaan’s nomination in the Oscars. I don’t have a problem with those movies, in all honesty. My only grumble is that the recent patriotic movies seemed forced and cash-grabbing. For instance, War, a film released in 2019, became the highest-grossing Bollywood film of 2019. In my opinion, the movie was mediocre and forced. Most Bollywood movies cash in on these patriotic movies because they’re money makers.
What these movies don’t show is the true barbarity of war. Movies like Come and See, Saving Private Ryan, Grave of the Fireflies, Letters from Iwo Jima, Waltz With Bashir, etc., portrayed the brutality of war more realistically. Albeit these movies exhibit patriotism pretty soon, the word becomes meaningless in the face of war.
Another major problem regarding this forced patriotism is the media itself. Their surfaced level, half-baked patriotism is what gives them more ratings. When there’s border tension between India, China, or Pakistan, the media becomes holier than thou and starts preaching on patriotism.
If anyone ever goes against their status quo, like the Cosa Nostra, the media will do everything to silence them. Think of it as the digital version of “The Night of the Long Knives.” Instead of the knives to take lives, the media uses the assassination of characters to get what they want.
People were enraged when someone leaked the “Whatsapp Chats of the “well-known” journalist Arnab Goswami.
One of the “chats” reveals that Goswami allegedly celebrated the attacks on Pulwama, Kashmir. If this turns out to be the truth, then Goswami will be in a lot of trouble. It also shows the double standards of the media. They love preaching about patriotism while at the same time profiting off from the deaths of soldiers. In the end, they just audaciously endanger their credibility, all that for a patriotic narrative.
So the question arises. Is it wrong to be a patriot? I don’t there’s anything wrong with being a patriot. I’m also a guy who did a patriotic vote for the first time the previous year.
My only gripe is when the masses blindly believe something in the name of patriotism. Then they react very aggressively when someone questions them. That’s what angers me the most. In a democratic nation, everyone has a right to express dissent. If the people’s ability to question gets suppressed to promote patriotism, our world would be like the UK under the Norsefire. So, in the end, I would say be patriotic but be a rational human being too.
This article has been written by Anish Bachchan, student at Amity Law School, Noida.
Also Read – The Rising Problem of Fake Patriotism