SUNDAY PAPER LOSES ITS INNOCENCE

We have been subscribing to DNA (Daily News & Analysis) for almost a year now and have been satisfied with it, for the most part, despite its political leanings towards the BJP. Times of India had too much gratuitous oomph in the form of risque pictures (although Times of India’s Crest edition has redeemed their reputation significantly.) and I was looking for something that was crisp and creative. DNA initially gave me that impression. I always enjoy their Sunday Mag section, because it gives me something to think about, whether they be opinions or book reviews. I might not agree with everything, but that’s what freedom of expression is all about. And then enters Grumpy Gay Indian Man who doesn’t seem to like society in general. I know, on the one hand BJP and then Gay rights? Well, that’s the beauty of Indian democracy and I love that DNA has no qualms in representing a spectrum. However, I was quite disturbed by what I read in the October 7th issue, in an article by the ever controversial and outspoken Ashley Tellis. I had a problem with Tellis’s strong views in the past regarding Jeet Thayil’s Booker Prize nomination and blogged about it  This time, Ashley’s ire is targeted at gay Indian men, in a piece called ‘The Bad sex award goes to Indian Men.’

In the first paragraph, Ashley Tellis says:
‘One of the best-kept secrets about gay life in India is that almost all gay sex here is lousy. I have to report that I have never had decent sex here, and I don’t think I ever will. Apart from the fact that Indians in general are lousy at sex and have all sorts of weird hang-ups about it, gay sex here has a particular set of sicknesses associated with it. So, Indian men who want to and do have gay sex also have no qualms about being disgusted by it and doing it badly. Culture legitimises that.

The subsequent paragraphs go into graphic detail about gay Indian men and their sex practices

Now if this article appeared in OUT magazine or in Trikone, I’d have read it and said fine. But the Sunday newspaper which my children flip through? I’ve never seen an article like this in The Hindu, The Times of India or Indian Express. Which makes me wonder what is DNA’s agenda? What tone are they trying to set. Every paper has an agenda. I went to journalism school, I read Noam Chomsky’s book Manufacturing Consent. All media persons would agree that a newspaper has an agenda. But something here just doesn’t seem right. I’ve lived in two of the most gay friendly cities in the world and had vocal gay/lesbian professors/friends, but have never seen this type of bitterness/disdain for their society and people. Which brings me to the question, ‘What is Ashley Tellis’s agenda?’ Is this all just a publicity stunt for both the DNA and Ashley Tellis? After all, I’m talking about him and I’m sure others are too. To balance the spectrum, I’ve never even seen an article on heterosexual sex like this in the Sunday newspaper. Trust me, my reaction would be exactly the same.

Could I be overreacting? Am I a prude? Read the article and tell me what you think? Would you want your children reading this in the Sunday paper? Obviously, if I don’t like it, I can stop reading it, which is probably what I will do. I’m giving my DNA subscription till the end of this month.

All those in passionate pursuit of preserving the good old Sunday Newspaper, say aye!

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4 thoughts on “SUNDAY PAPER LOSES ITS INNOCENCE

  1. Malini Parmar says:

    Shikha, my thought exactly. I moved from TOI to DNA as my daughter started flipped through the paper. And now i find DNA is trying to be another TOI and worse! I still love their opinion pieces but the appearance of sleeze and absolutely vapid city section has me considering if i should bring back TOI and just ban my 7 year old from touching the newspaper – her GK be damned.

  2. Shikha Malaviya says:

    Thanks for your comment Gayathri Amrutha. It’s nice to be called a prude for a change 🙂 My gripe is not with Tellis, but with the fact this is in the Sunday edition of a national newspaper. Would you be willing to come to my child’s sixth grade class and read Tellis’s article out to them? Either this article should come with a warning or not be published in a widely circulated national newspaper. As a person working in Journalism, don’t you believe that who your audience is, matters?

  3. Shikha Malaviya says:

    Thanks for your comments Malini. I really thought DNA would be different, but sadly, it seems to have joined the sensationalist bandwagon. I also enjoy their opinion pieces, such as those by columnist Annie Zaidi. My kids, ages 16 and 10, usually flip through the Sunday paper, but this time I had to hide it. Anyway, please do write to the editor, if you can, at: inbox@dnaindia.net

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