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For any viral content creator today, including stand-up comics, Arnab Goswami is a gift that doesn’t stop giving. Photo: Abhinav Srivastava/Wikimedia Common
For any viral content creator today, including stand-up comics, Arnab Goswami is a gift that doesn’t stop giving. Photo: Abhinav Srivastava/Wikimedia Common

Arnab Goswami: meme for our times

What makes Goswami the cultural icon he is today? Here are some examples

It’s fair to say that anything and everything Times NOW editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami does turns viral. No Indian news anchor has quite captured the public imagination the way Goswami has. The undeniable decibel levels that have come to typify his shows have only risen. These shows have unintendely redefined news media language as we know it, mainstreaming words such as “unmissable" and “outrage". And then, there are these absurd, often unadulterated exchanges between Goswami the anchor and his guests, which have perfectly and rather seamlessly lent themselves to what is a perfect meme.

What makes Arnab Goswami the cultural icon he is today? Here are some examples:

1. He interrupts

Over the weekend, Chennai-based parody-music band Parodesy Noise featuring Krish Ashok, Harish Ravindran and T. Rajender (in spirit; a sort of inside joke if you get it; never mind if you don’t) released their latest creation titled “Interrupception", a soundtrack featuring one of these exchanges between Goswami and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy.

If you haven’t already, this is what you should be listening to right now.

2. Not just ‘unmissable’, he’s ‘unmessable’

Sometime late last year, during a Newshour debate, BJP member of Parliament from New Delhi, Meenakshi Lekhi, got into a typically unending argument with Goswami. But when she alleged, “You’ve got money from the lobbyists for your channel", all hell broke loose on the show. Goswami responded with the now viral, “Never ever" rebuttal. A day later, Raka Ashok (unrelated to Krish), came up with this, quite aptly titled “ARNAB TRAP".

3. His shows are a meme factory by themselves ( Hell yeah!)

Soon after the results of the recently concluded Assembly polls came in, a man curiously named Americai Narayanan, a Congress spokesperson, appeared on one of Goswami’s studio discussions. Narayanan, when prompted about corruption by the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government headed by his party, replied with a “Hell Yeah!" in a Texas-meets-Tindivanam accent. Narayanan became an overnight sensation on social media, with #HellYeah trending on Twitter.

4. Exemplary (not really?) use of hashtags

Before Times NOW discovered Twitter, there were headlines of course. Like... “PAK LIES NAILED". Though himself not on Twitter, if there’s someone in this country who quite knows how to perfectly milk the platform, with hashtags that are annoyingly abused, shouty and as academics would say, laces opinion, it is Goswami. And well, when the hashtag does do its job i.e. trend on Twitter or end up at #1 position or related platforms, surprise, surprise...it’s breaking news or a news flash. Some of their recent hashtags include...wait for it...#RingmasterGreg, #RahulRiotClub, #MysteryShutdown, and well, #LGgetsAnIdea (we hope there’s no product placement there!)

5. Legendary takedowns

Let’s be honest, what sets Goswami apart is his intrinsic ability to speak what his viewers (or audience) think. In late 2012, he beat up the President’s son Abhijeet Mukherjee for the latter’s ill-timed comment in the aftermath of the Delhi gang-rape. Mukherjee, in an interview to a Bengali-language channel, said back then, “Women who are participating in candle-light vigils and those who are protesting have no connection with ground reality. These pretty ladies coming out to protest are ‘highly dented and painted’". This prompted Goswami to don his cape of righteousness and quite simply rebutt Mukherjee with a takedown of epic proportions. This takedown also resulted in a mash-up video by a YouTube user, KkuchhB.

To watch the full episode featuring Mukherjee, click here.

6. Spoofer’s paradise

For any viral content creator today, including stand-up comics, Goswami is a gift that doesn’t stop giving. Take The Viral Fever (TVF’s) “Barely Speaking with Arnub" for example. One of its earliest episodes featured Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan. Likewise, the concept of his show, The Newshour, also figures in one of Cyrus Broacha’s latest sketches for rival channel CNN-IBN. In an episode of his show “The Week That Wasn’t", Broacha spoofs the infamous Pakistan debates on The Newshour, where Goswami seemingly plays foreign minister, Army chief, hawk, dove (NOT), Prime Minister all by himself.

7. One-liners

Goswami’s shows, to their credit, have come up with some unique one-liners that have over the years acquired cult status. “The Nation Wants to Know" or “The nation demands an answer" or “X or Y stands completely exposed" have over the last few years, become common, and sorry to say, disappointingly cliched usages. Time for some new ones, please?

From a content creator’s perspective, Goswami, as Krish Ashok says, is classic meme material. “He’s a public personality, who’s forceful with a certain sense of predictability about him, somewhat a known entity and that helps when you are looking for memes. He’s unlike say, a Rajdeep (Sardesai), who, I think, is shifty. Goswami has a curious lack of hypocrisy, which doesn’t change as per situation." Ashok, in 2011, also came up with a very popular short soundtrack, Darth Vathiyar (teacher in Tamil), where a cult character from Star Wars, Darth Vader gives Goswami some handy lessons in Indian classical music. Ashok adds, “Also, unlike Swamy, Goswami has an extremely auto-tunable voice. If not a television anchor, he’d have made for a good singer, an ideal fit for a Church choir." Likening him to an Indian version of FOX News host Bill O’Reilly, Ashok says, “He is what I’d call borderline sane. You sort of know what to expect, and for that one hour every night, it’s a certainty. His shows are almost like your daily fix of cocaine or nicotine."

Long may that continue!

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