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Aufgabe 1

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Outline what the narrator and her sister experience in Mumbai and how they react to what they see.
Analyze the devices the author uses to convey the narrator's attitude towards Mumbai and talent shows like Popstar No. 1. Give evidence from the text.
Choose one of the following three tasks:
"[Y]ou want to avert your eyes, but cannot help but be captured by what is taking place."
Explain the quote and, referring to the information in the text, comment on people's fascination with reality TV shows.
Compare the Indian contestants' expectations of the TV show Popstar No. 1 with those of another character in literature or film who strives for fame and fortune. Assess the ways they cope with their situation.
Write an article for an international online magazine in which you discuss the impact that sudden fame or failure on a TV show has on young people's lives. Use the contestants' motivations as described as a starting point.
Material 1
Excerpt from the novel
Vikas Swarup - The Accidental Apprentice
Note: The narrator accompanies her younger sister Neha from Delhi to Mumbai, where Neha has been invited to take part in the famous Indian talent show Popstar No. 1. Neha, who is a very good singer, dreams of a career in the music business.
[…] Neha and I arrived here less than twenty-four hours ago and already we are under Mumbai’s spell. People say Mumbai is about money, as Delhi is about power, but that’s not entirely true. Mumbai is ultimately about opportunity, a brash city of big dreams and rough ambition, which wears its heart on its sleeve. This is also a city of hyperbole, where everything is bigger, higher, faster. For those who live here,
Mumbai is its own country. But, for the rest of India, it is a Siren[1], singing an irresistibly enticing song of glamour, glory and gold.
Neha is completely seduced by it. She can sniff her destiny in Mumbai’s humid air. This is the city she was born to rule. And her ticket to success is Popstar No. 1, the singing talent contest that has brought us here.
We landed at VT station[2] last evening by train from Delhi and were whisked away to Colaba, at the southern
tip of the city. That is where we received our first shock. The accommodation provided us by the organisers was a dilapidated primary school. The classrooms have been converted into dormitories and we were put up in one with seven other outstation[3] contestants and their chaperones. Neha was horrified at the thought of sharing a room with a bunch of strangers and having to use communal toilets. She was probably expecting to be put up at the Taj[4].
Today was an off day, for sightseeing. And we saw everything, from the Hanging Gardens to Marine Drive to Haji Ali[5]. We passed by the slums of Dharavi and the skyscrapers of Nariman Point. […]
The sheer size of Mumbai is breathtaking. It really is maximum city, where the rich and the poor, the worldly and the saintly, jostle each other every day, chasing that same elusive dream of making it big.
Now the denizens of the city have been joined by forty new contenders, the contestants of Popstar No. 1,
all of them between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two, each one of them lured by the promise of overnight success and instant fame.
Javed Ansari, the sixteen-year-old son of a rickshaw puller from Lucknow, exudes a boyish charm and a cocky confidence. ‘I have been singing since I was five. It is my destiny that has brought me to Mumbai,’ he
tells me. ‘I don’t care if I win or not, but I am not going back to Lucknow after this. This is the city where I have to make my mark. And make my mark I will. Nothing can stop me.’ […]
Jasbeer Deol is the only Sikh[6] in the competition. He is a strapping teenager whose father runs a prosperous business in Ludhiana making woollen blankets. ‘What made you decide to become a singer?’ I ask him. ‘Wouldn’t you have done quite well in the family business?’ ‘I don’t want money,’ he answers frankly. ‘I want
‘And why is that so?’
‘See, my father has slaved for the last thirty years to earn his wealth. But even then his photo did not appear in the newspaper even once. I sang for just three minutes to win the regional audition and the very next day my photo was splashed in the local papers. What does this show? That it’s better to be famous than rich.’
According to the rooming list given to us, there is another girl in the dormitory, nineteen-year-old Mercy, with no surname. I discover her hiding behind the curtain, a silver crucifix dangling from her neck. Dressed in a cheap cotton sari, she is frail- looking, with frizzy hair, crooked teeth and a face disfigured by leucoderma[7]. The blotchy white patches give her skin an unhealthy pallor, as if it were made of wax that is slowly melting away.
‘Where are you from?’ I query her gently.
‘Goa,’ she replies, staring fixedly at her feet encased in worn-out rubber slippers. ‘Who has come with you? Your father?’
‘I don’t have anyone,’ she replies, shrinking in on herself. […]
Hearing the painful convictions of these contestants, the way they boast without irony, gets me thinking.
What is it that makes people so desperate to be famous? Why this perpetual clawing for recognition, this obsession to be noticed, to stand out from the crowd? I think it’s a kind of sickness, a virus in the blood, circulated by television. And the infection has spread far and wide, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Fame is no longer seen as a by-product of talent, but as an end in itself. Everyone wants to become an instant celebrity. And being on TV is the quickest way to achieve this. That is why we have contestants willing to do
just about anything to get on a reality show. They will eat cockroaches, abuse their parents, have sex, get married, announce divorce and even give birth on camera. Anything that can possibly be done in real life is now being packaged as a reality show. And the envelope[8] is constantly being pushed. We now have a show based on past-life regression[9], as if this life weren’t exciting enough.
I find reality TV as morbidly fascinating as watching a car accident: you want to avert your eyes, but you
cannot help but be captured by what is taking place. […]
Source: Swarup, Vikas. The Accidental Apprentice. London: Simon & Schuster, 2013, 189-193.

[1] Siren: reference to a group of women in Greek mythology whose singing attracted sailors and caused them to sail into dangerous waters
[2] VT station: short for: Victoria Terminus, railway station in Mumbai
[3] outstation: a provincial small town or village
[4] the Taj: short for: Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, luxury hotel in Mumbai Colaba, named after the world-famous white mausoleum located in Agra, India
[5] Haji Ali: mosque and tomb; one of the most popular religious places in Mumbai
[6] Sikh: follower of Sikhism, a religion having its origins on the Indian subcontinent
[7] leucoderma: a medical condition in which there is a loss of pigmentation of the skin; German: Weißfleckenkrankheit
[8] to push the envelope: to try to go beyond the normal limits
[9] past-life regression: here: alleged journeying into one’s past lives while hypnotized
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$\blacktriangleright$  1. Outline narrator's experience in Mumbai
  • woman and her younger sister Neha travel from Delhi to Mumbai in order for the sister to take part at a singing contest
  • reiceve their first shock when they are accommodated in a dilapidated primary school
  • have to share the room with other people, have to use communal toilets
  • have a day off for sightseeing, see the Hanging Gardens, Marine Drive, Haji Ali, the slums pf Dharavi and the skyscrapers of Nariman Point
  • older sister asks boys and girls why they are participating, gets varying answers
  • son of a rickshaw puller doesn't care if he wins or not, won't ever return to hometown, sees his future and opportunity in Mumbai
  • the Sikh boy doesn't want/need money at all, has wealthy parents, only wants fame/recognition
  • a poor girl with a crucifix around her neck, in a cheap sari, crooked teeth and white patches on her face hides behind a curtain
  • comes from Goa, has no one to accompany her
  • contestants show off without irony
  • contestants feel the urge to be recognized, fame is a goal and every distance to achieve this aim will be travelled no matter the costs
  • TV the quickest way to become famous
  • reality TV is as fascinating as a car accident $\rightarrow$ you can't look away even though you want to
$\blacktriangleright$  2. Analyze narrator's attitude towards Mumbai and talent shows
  • Devices: "Evidence"
    $\rightarrow$ Interpretation
  • idiom: "we are under Mumbai's spell" (l. 1)
    $\rightarrow$ narrator and sister are strongly attracted and influenced by Mumbai
  • simile: "Mumbai is about money, as Delhi is about power" (l. 2)
    $\rightarrow$ Mumbai portrayed as a city where careers are thriving, where everything is possible
  • metaphor: "a brash city of big dreams and rough ambition" (l. 3)
    $\rightarrow$ dreams will come true, if one only works hard enough to achieve them
  • personification: "which wears its heart on its sleeve" (l. 3-4)
    $\rightarrow$ Mumbai as a person showing intimate emotions in an honest and open manner
  • hyperbole: "city of hyperbole" (l. 4)
    $\rightarrow$ narrator assesses that everything in that city is exaggerated
  • climax: "bigger, higher, faster" (l. 4)
    $\rightarrow$ underlines the fact that Mumbai is just over the top
  • simile: "it is a Siren" (l. 5)
    $\rightarrow$ Mumbai again as strongly attracting, no one can resist its song
  • anaphora: "glamour, glory and gold" (l. 6)
    $\rightarrow$ all the things promised by a successful TV career, belonging to the upper-class, being of higher status than before
  • metaphor: "She can sniff her destiny in Mumbai's humid air." (l. 7)
    $\rightarrow$ success as a something tangible that just floats around in Mumbai, ready to just grab it and have it
  • enumeration: "where the rich and the poor, the worldly and the saintly" (l. 17-18)
    $\rightarrow$ Mumbai as a city of diversity, of peace between the different people, all have the same goals
Talent shows:
  • metaphor: "ticket to success is Popstar No. 1" (l. 8)
    $\rightarrow$ narrator sees talent show as a guarantor for fame and money
  • ellipsis: "Why this perpetual clawing for recognition, this obsession to be noticed, to stand out from the crowd?" (l. 45-46)
    $\rightarrow$ yet, narrator doesn't understand the wish for recognition in others, suggests that they would do everything to attain fame
  • simile: "a kind of sickness, a virus in the blood, circulated by television" (l. 46-47)
    $\rightarrow$ want for recognition as something negative, will deteriorate the body and the mind of the person infatuated by it
  • anaphora: "from Kashmir to Kanyakumari" (l. 47)
    $\rightarrow$ emphasizes the fact that whole India is delighted by talent shows
  • climax: "They will eat cockroaches, abuse their parents, have sex, get married, announce divorce and even give birth on camera." (l. 50-51)
    $\rightarrow$ narrator explains the lengths that people would go to just to become famous, people as ruthless
  • idiom: "envelope is constantly being pushed" (l. 52)
    $\rightarrow$ people always come up with even crazier things to show on TV
  • simile: "reality TV as morbidly fascinating as watching a car accident" (l. 54)
    $\rightarrow$ people can't look away from reality TV even though it is despicable
$\blacktriangleright$  3.1 Explain quote and comment on people's fascination with reality TV shows
  • "[Y]ou want to avert your eyes, but cannot help but be captured by what is taking place."
  • people on reality TV shows often do embarassing things and the audience feels ashamed for them
  • still, people keep watching those shows because it is fun and they feel better about their own lifes, themselves, their intellect, …
  • once you have watched episode of a certain show, you can't stop and you want to know what will happen to the person in the shows
People's fascination with reality TV shows:
  • message of reality TV: ordinary people can become so important that millions will watch them
  • people watch them because they want to talk with friends and coworkers about the show $\rightarrow$ peer pressure
  • reality TV allows people to fantasize about gaining status through automatic fame $\rightarrow$ normal people can watch the shows, see people like themselves and imagine that they could become famous by being on television as well
  • the more reality TV shows a person likes, the more concerned he or she is with their social status
  • viewers are given the chance to compare and contrast their own lives with those of the shows' protagonists
  • hyperauthenticity: viewers might be drawn by the chance to test their behavior mentally against that of the participants
  • same elements as in drama: attachment to characters, conflict and usually a great resolution
  • learning about development of people in shows (Keeping up with the Kardashians)
  • it could be that in a time of economic hardship, people are seeking out the simple family entertainment that makes them feel part of something bigger
  • ability to have a say in what happens to others in reality TV shows gives people a sense of agency (casting shows like American Idol)
  • when voting for someone with a sad background in reality TV, it enables us to feel that we are helping them succeed
$\blacktriangleright$  3.2 Compare contestants' expectations with those of another character in literature or film
Contestants' expectation of TV show Popstar No. 1:
  • singing contest brings together hundreds of people with different backgrounds and from different provinces
  • sister of narrator is shocked when she has to stay at a dormitory in a primary school - she had expected to stay at a luxury hotel
  • expect overnight success and instant fame
  • Javed sees it as his destiny that the contest brought him to Mumbai and away from his hometown $\rightarrow$ he expects to achieve some kind of success there, nothing can stop him
    $\rightarrow he is rather careless, either he is winning or he is not, it doesn't really matter to him
  • Jasbeer does not need or want the money that comes with winning the contest, he wants to be famous, to be recognized, doesn't want to work hard his whole life without being in the newspaper once
    $\rightarrow$ rather self-confident, sang for three minutes and won a whole region over
    $\rightarrow$ gloats over having invested so little time and having gained such a great output (being in the newspaper)
  • Mercy, obviously being very poor and having travelled with no one, might want to boost her self-esteem
    $\rightarrow$ is afraid of the contest, is hiding behind curtains, doesn't want to be seen
Jay Gatsby from "The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald:
  • Jay Gastby is coming from very humble beginnings (farmer family in North Dakota)
  • had a wealthy mentor in Dan Cody $\rightarrow$ upwards comparison
  • met Daisy, she embodies everything he had ever wanted (girl from rich patrician Louisville family)
  • left for World War, promising Daisy to come back and get married
  • learned that Daisy married aristocratic Tom Buchanan
  • swore that he himself would make a vaster fortune than Tom and thus winning Daisy back
  • made a fortune from bootlegging and built connections with various gangsters
  • tried to attract Daisy with his lavish parties
  • in the end, all the fame and fortune he amassed are worthless because he is murdered
  • money and reputation are not his ultimate goal, they are merely means to get to his ultimate goal Daisy
$\blacktriangleright$  3.3 Write an article
… of sudden fame:
  • people who have had economical hardships before and all of a sudden are famous can help out their families with the money they now earn
  • change of habits $\rightarrow$ access to more elaborate things (cars, journeys, …)
  • people who are mature and have a stable identity will be less likely to succumb to the pitfalls of fame and instead might use their fame to benefit others
  • no personal space anymore, whole life is recorded and stars are always being followed by paparazzis
  • fame is exciting at first, but can have many negative repercussions $\rightarrow$ can lead to self-destructive behaviour, which then leads to consumption of alcohol and drugs (which led to the death of Amy Winehouse)
  • feel like certain rules don't apply to them anymore (Justin Biever driving under influence, without licence and resisting arrest)
  • people whose sense of self or identity is not fully developed might vulnerable to becoming the person that the public wants them to be
    $\rightarrow$ child actors who try to reclaim their personal identity which might be quite different than their public persona
  • becoming an overnight sensation can shake a person’s sense of self to the core
    $\rightarrow$ might result in anxiety
… of sudden failure:
  • Britney Spears had successful life, became mentally ill, got drug addicted had a meltdown and shaved her head in 2005
    $\rightarrow$ got her life back on track, had an appearance in the series "How I Met Your Mother", released four new albums, has her own lingerie line, has an always sold out show in Las Vegas
  • Lindsey Lohan got arrested after she hit a curb with her car (being drunk), said that she wanted to be in jail because that eliminated the chaos fame caused in her life
    $\rightarrow$ wants to live a normal life again, stayed away from certain friends after rehab, happier than before
  • J.K. Rowling was jobless, divorced, penniless, and with a dependent child and suffered from depression, eventually signing up for government-assisted welfare
    $\rightarrow$ one of the most successful authors of our times
    $\rightarrow$ gives a lot of her money to charity
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