"Self Help is not a substitute for content"
TV 'personality' Oprah Winfrey was in India last January and produced a multi-part series for her foundering cable channel.
I have no idea what the budget for this thing ran, but I can imagine it was in the millions.
And for what?
Apparently as self-serving, superficial re-inforcement of classic western sterotypes of India. Her series has been roundly castigated in both the Indian Press, and now on The BBC
Here are a few choice comments:
The Oprah's Next Chapter special was called "myopic, unaware, ignorant and gauche" by one Indian commentator and "snobbish" and "snooty" by another.
The Daily Bhaskar website said the "ill picturized and badly scripted show" portrayed India "in poor light".
"I heard some Indian people eat with their hands still?" she is seen asking a Mumbai family she joins for dinner.
"Using our hands to eat is a well-established tradition and a fact none of us are ashamed of," blogged Rituparna Chatterjee of the CNN-IBN news channel.
"As a responsible public figure about to air a show that will be beamed across the world, you should have done your homework."
Well, I have to say she deserves what she gets. Self-help mumbo jumbo is not, and never has been a substitute for actual research, work and intellectual rigor.
Not that India doesn't deserve some serious documentary work. This nation of 1.2 billion people is exploding with innovation and drive; well on her way to becoming one of the major economies of the 21st Century. But India deserves better than Oprah.
And, in a world of very inexpensive video and the web which allows instant transmission and distribution for free, the world of documentary television can also do better than Oprah - and for substantially less cost.
The opportuntiy is there, the technology is there and the knowledge is there. All we need is to put them together.