15 minutes of fame: Aseem Trivedi the new mascot

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Critics of cartoonist-turned-activist Aseem Trivedi were right. He is no activist or social reformer but a young man who is hungry for fame and can go to any extent to fulfill his desire. And those who had expressed unconditional support to the cartoonist when he was charged with sedition are tad disappointed. Kanpur-based award winning cartoonist and India Against Corruption activist, Aseem, was arrested by Mumbai Police on charges of sedition on Sept 8.
The 25-year-old invited charges of sedition for posting 'ugly and obscene' content on his web portal. Aseem was charged with sedition for insulting national symbols in his cartoons. However, he was released after Bombay High Court granted him bail.

News of entry of Aseem as one of the contestants in controversial television reality show 'Bigg Boss' has once again brought to light the question pertaining to publicity-hungry population of India. The phenomenon of "15 minutes of fame" has touched everyone, be it a politician, model, socialite, player, artist, activist or an aam aadmi.

Even die-hard supporters of Aseem have questioned the decision of the cartoonist to be part of Bigg Boss. The reality show has always been the king of controversies in the telly world. The show has managed to hog the limelight for all the wrong reasons, be its vulgar language or verbal duel of the contestants.

aseem binayak sen

Is Aseem a role model?

Aseem got a heroic reception from his supporters when he walked out free from Arthur Road jail in Mumbai. He was hailed by artists and like-mined people as a cartoonist-turned-crusader, who has the guts to speak his mind. Social networking sites like Facebook were abuzz in support of Aseem when he was arrested. Both young and old came together in his support and expressed their anger against a biased government.

Along with art fraternity, media houses, civil rights groups and activists, including Binayak Sen, who was also charged with sedition earlier expressed their support for Aseem. They all demanded repeal of sedition law.

But all appreciation and support which Aseem managed to garner seems to have been lost. Nobody expects an activist to spend his time inside a house, where inmates indulge in frivolous activities.

Is Aseem a victim of phenomenon called "15 minutes of fame"?

It was first Andy Warhol, the American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art, who first coined the term. Warhol famously quoted that "in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes. The term refers to fame which is often short-lived and makes even an unknown person world famous.

With media boom and coming of 24X7 television channels, everyone aspires to become famous. Be it a cause, or a ridiculous stunt, Indians are well managing and exploiting every means available to become famous. It seems after getting nation-wide support for courting arrest, Aseem does not want to fade away from public memory. So, when producers of the reality show gave him the "tempting" offer, the cartoonist could not say no.

Is Aseem just another young man, who is trying his level best to become popular in the garb of activism?

Why Aseem joined Bigg Boss?

The cartoonist-turned-activist is smart. He had explained it well the reason behind taking part in the reality show. Aseem, like a true-blue activist said that he would fight corruption by entering Bigg Boss. Now, do we need reality show to fight against corruption?

"I want to reach out to people...I want to spread the message of fighting against corruption through the show. There will be celebrities on the show and I am hopeful that I would be able to convince them to be a part of this anti-corruption movement," Trivedi said before entering the 'Bigg Boss' house.

"I have been spreading the message through my cartoons. I want more and more people to become part of this anti-corruption movement," the cartoonist, who has been associated with Anna Hazare's India Against Corruption movement, said.

Will Bigg Boss be a life-saver for Aseem?

Reports are rife that Maharashtra government is likely to drop the sedition charge against Trivedi. It seems the cartoonist will make best out of his stint in Bigg Boss to clear all charges against him.

"I have also heard that the state government is going to drop sedition charges against me. They have been saying this for quite some time. I am happy it is happening. I hope this does not happen with any other cartoonist," he said.

Are TV channels manipulating publicity-hungry individuals?

Right from strip queen Poonam Pandey to controversial actress Rakhi Sawant, television channels have always given a warm welcome to publicity-hungry individuals. Be it an outrageous comment against a fellow actor or the vow to strip clothes if Indian cricket team wins the world cup, television channels have telecasted some of the most ridiculous statements. Infact, many have used television channels as platforms to become famous.

For television channels, anything provocative makes good headlines. So, television channels refuse to accept the blame. They say that they don't want to sit in a high pedestal and pass judgement on individuals. Rather television channels allege that it is publicity-hungry people who use them to come into the limelight. Now, it is difficult to say, who is using whom?

Why would you want to be famous?

The question has been well-answered by Professor Cary Cooper. The Canadian-born British psychologist and professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School has written books exploring what drives people into the spotlight. People pursue the spotlight because they "love to be loved" - although this is "part of the problem", said Prof Cooper.

Senior psychologist Glenn Wilson added that you have to be a bit exhibitionistic and manipulative to desire fame. Experts say being famous is often enticing for people. Achieving fame guarantees money, adulation and glamour.

What if the fame lasts for just 15 minutes?

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