Another cameraphone scandal has hit the society that has already been made panicky about the "dangers" of the "little satans" in our palms by the scare stories in Tamil Press. What is doing rounds this week in Tamil press is the supposedly no-holds barred coverage of the blackmail scandal involving a less known Tamil film actress (Padmavathy), her client (a local businessman), collaborators and their camera phones. According to news reports, the actress planted the camera phones in the room where they stayed and later threatened the businessman with the pictures for extracting money.
More than the scandal what interests magazines like Nakeeran and Junior Vikatan is the potential the story provides them to indulge in soft pornography by carrying lurid pictures of the businessman and the actress in compromising postures. The depravity of these magazines are at one level no different from that of the actress. And the intent of these magazines seems more vicious than that of the actress who sought to blackmail using camera phone pictures. The praxis of exploitation only grows menacingly when the functions of the depraved individuals are extended through the institutionalised process of depravity Tamil newspapers and magazines have cultivated over the years.
Anything new attracts "beware" notices from the self-styled moral guardians of Tamil press. It seems to be a classic case of devil talking about humanism to humans. A random sample of Tamil magazines and newspapers conveys one message: "technology is bad, new technologies are scandalous, our society is brimming with criminals and corrupt individuals, but members of the Tamil press are the last vestiges of righteousness in Tamil society".
Their stories repeatedly drive home the message that new technologies are embodiments of moral threats and they are the only whistle blowers around to take care of public interest. To them, call centres are dens of vices. Camera phones are "satans in our palms" But the soft pornography reeking out of their voyeristic texts and pictures are socially responsible whistle blowers.
As the likes of Junior Vikatan and Nakeeran seek to expose the darker sides of both new technologies and their depraved users what is at work is more than an old game of exploitation and mass deception by the media. The name of the game is not just another kind of media moral panic, but a rejigged tool of what Adorno called as mass deception. More on this later (sooner?) when the "little satans" once again become the favourite whipping boys for the big satans masquerading as self-styled moral guardians in another scandal.