‘Beware the Ides of March’ – A Wikipedia reference will yield this – In the Roman calendar, the Ides of March was a term used to denote 15 March. The term is still used in a colloquialsense for centuries afterwards to denote the middle of the month. In modern times, the term is best known because of Julius Caesar assassination on the Ides of March in 44 BC. The termhas come to be used as a metaphor for impending doom.
The Ides of March for us began with dismal playing performance and finally the early exit of the Indian cricket team from the World Cup. A mob mentality was reflected in our newspapers when tremendous public ire came to the fore. On the day of Gudi Padwa or Ugadi, a daily newspaper in Mumbai showed women in traditional Maharashtrian ceremonial attire wielding cricket bats, a grin on faces, with a headline that read ‘we will beat you up…we can play better cricket’.The burning of effigies, black humour sms texts and derogatory internet images, all point to the rising of ‘Wotan’ an ancient God of storm and frenzy and dual musings. Carl Jung wrote ofin his ‘Essays on Contemporary Events’ referring to the Germanic literature that gave birth to Wotan that ‘Wotan is the unleasher of passions and the lust of battle. Wotan symbolizes themass psychology in the collective consciousness of a people that shows up ‘primitivity, violence and cruelty’. Carl Jung studied contemporary events that led to the rise of Nazism. It is whaterupts in us when negative passions run high. We have seen the cascading situations that went totally out of hand in Mumbai and in Gujarat not many years ago. A multitude of reasons can beattributed to our failure with no one above blame, but importantly media can play a very critical role in lending voice and expression to fury. A picture is worth a thousand words, andwhat images did we see and what headlines did we read? We were aware of the impending doom in the World Cup. Every channel and publication worth its salt waxed eloquent about the talents or lack thereof our individual players. This was juxtaposed with writings on our dismal team dynamic, the politicization of the selection process, absentee leadership and a flagrant flouting of the authority and respect for the coach.In each of these and more lay the seeds of our failure. Passions run high in cricket and its fans along with the ability to morph unendingly, depending on whether we win or lose. Cricket is‘religion’, ‘binder of the Indian fabric’, ‘an anthem’, ‘a symbol of national pride’ when we anticipate winning, and when we lose, it transforms into a ‘just a game’ and at worst, ‘a medium for advertising and endorsements’, along with the baying for the blood of our players whom we want to flay. Public perception swings between two dualities of the players being either gods to be adored or demons to be hated and despised. The reality is that they are human, somewhere in between. The Ides of March brought doom also in the tragic and shocking form of Bob Woolmer’s death. The mystery shrouding the event, the needle of suspicion that left a whole team tainted stands testimony to the fact that cricket is a big stakes game. The price to be paid could be life. Many players in tern will face humiliation, even ostracism, a need to explain and justify to themselves and to people around them, and will need to cope, and recover to play again.
As researchers we observe and interact with human subjects in their socio-cultural milieu. We study words and language, behaviour, and body language, with the intent to unearth emotions.Some times the subject is aware of and shares, at others she is aware of her emotions but cannot share them, and at other times she is unaware and unconsciously of these emotions thatare deep down in the realm of the unconscious. In a democratic culture, popular media is both a reflection as well as a mirror. It creates and refines our sensibilities and plays a role indefining our character as a people, especially in case of young people whose world view is getting formed.
A study of media is a tool to unlock our cultural consciousness as well as of ourunconscious.It will be interesting to study how other nations have coped with failures and losses where a game is accorded status of religion. Being a player of the game brings riches, adulation andfame. Is there a preparation for losing? What is the possibility of face saving that the self allows itself? What is the sense of personal responsibility and team responsibility that the loserfeels? Are there lessons we can learn as a people, as a business, as a team, and as individuals, of what not to be and what not to do? Does failure split and success bind? Do we as a peoplewant only to identify with winning and are our coping mechanisms for failure only about vicious anger and its imbalanced and faulty expression? Can we revisit ourselves with renewed hopeand in the words of Theodore Roosevelt ‘Dare Mighty Things’?