Media Watch: Not Not The Dependent

  • Satire in the age of the CJP

The reader might not have seen it yet. Because at the time of writing this, it had not yet gone viral. A Facebook event, scheduled for the 28th of December, organised by a group of students at FAST University. A crowdfunding initiative for the Diamer-Bhasha Dam.

But what sets this one apart from the scores of other such events is that it is not money that is being collected but water itself!

This is clearly a satirical spoof of the chief justice’s dam drive.

“To everyone asking whether they’ll be given buckets or not,” writes the admin of the group on Facebook, “Please note that water collected in buckets is difficult to transport so we have decided to use bottles instead.”

Whatever doubt someone were to (somehow) have about the nature of the page, dissipates when one starts reading the messaging forum of the FB page.

One of the images shared on the group

“Here’s an idea,” writes a group member. “Why don’t we join pipes and take it straight to Diamer? That way we can skip the logistics mess.”

“Too expensive and time-consuming method,” the admin replies. “We’ll have to lay down pipelines from FAST to the dam site.”

“Bottles will also be difficult to transport,” writes another group member. “So we should drink as much water we can drink and then go to the site area of dam only :)”

“We don’t need your opinion. But thanks anyway,” replies the admin.

Alas, it did not deter some serious-minded reformers from thinking of it as ‘mass insanity.’ Academic Ammar Ali Jan, who currently teaches political science at the Forman Christian College, writes, “FAST University is organizing a water donation drive for the Diamer Bhasha Dam. Yes, collecting water in bottles and taking it up north to fill an entire dam! This latest example of mass insanity shows us why it is at times better to just stop and think before acting on your impulses. Otherwise, you end up banging your head on the wall, which technically counts as work but is useless and makes you look silly.

It is easy to laugh at Ammar Ali Jan, for taking something like this seriously, and being condescending about it. But could one blame him, really?

Nuanced, conceptual satire is taken to be true a lot of the times by the smartest of people. This is its problem and, at times, its intention. A case in point is the Evil Dead horror movies, at least one of which was meant to be a satire of horror movies. But level-one viewers, myself included, fell for them as children and were scared.

Is one to blame Ammar Ali Jan for thinking the FAST students were serious, when the chief justice, followed by the prime minister himself, has set up a crowdfunding initiative for a $ 15 billion dam?

Exactly how much more implausible is the water collection drive than the one that exists?


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