Monday, August 20, 2007

Television in the Time of SMS !

Don't you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There's one marked 'Brightness,' but it doesn't work.

While surfing the TV channels I found a popular reality show where a participant was crying and howling while the three judges were making nasty comments about her “ugly looks” “lack of poise” and “no potential for success” without any care .The young girl was naturally feeling that her life is worthless if these demi-god judges rate her so low. I found the entire scene so disgusting that I promptly switched channel. But I know that there are millions of TV viewers who’d be watching gleefully the ugly game of reality TV.

Later on, thinking about this I remembered a saying of Professor Morrie( from “ Tuesdays with Morrie”-by Mitch Albom)-- “ The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves.And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.”

But however much we dislike it- reality TV is a hit these days. However much made up and unreal it is , it is preferred over the reality itself . So not only entertainment channels even news channels are gearing up to the mood. TV channels are flooded with programmes for selecting best singer, best icon, best supermodel, best dancer-pair etc etc. and how do they select “the best” ? The simple answer is by democracy. Hence to save so-and –so from getting eliminated in next round sms on this number and cast your vote . And I believe many around us take this bait of sms-email to make a participant win/lose . I would have appreciated this public opinion part also ….but then it is also associated with the ugly game of making participants feel bad. So you are voted out …how do you feel? What do you think was the reason that our viewers chose you to be eliminated? Your son/daughter could not make to the next round- how does it feel ? Why people like to see others getting humiliated, criticized and subject to (mostly undeserving) nasty comments ? More than that why do these young participants feel it so important to join the big bad world of competition through this short cut of humiliation. What if they win this competition…..will that make them best amongst the lot? Will that give any surety of long lasting success? Is it not for just short lived glory and so called entertainment of the viewers.

For the TV viewers the voting does not end with these “Choose the best contests” , you can always take part in the opinion polls on news channels ( whether PM should quit or not? whether the judge should pass the judgment this way or that ? …so much so last week I found a poll on a news item where a girl has left her husband’s house after getting tortured there and now the husband was pleading through the TV channel for her to come back…. “so sms us whether she should come back?” ) I find the entire drama very revolting. And this year some of us even chose the seven wonders of the earth ….who knows tomorrow by sms we will decide which celebrity should smile and which bomb should explode….who should marry whom and who should be put in or out of jail.

Theoretically however, utopian it sound is just violating the privacy and domain of individuals and institutions. Why should we vote for something that is none of our business….I know, some of us will like to argue that everything in public domain is everyone’s business but in my opinion it takes guts to say that I am not going to lower my standard for that of the world…it takes courage to say a big NO to this sort of popular culture .I find it sad that winner of these TV competitions will not even be the best in their chosen field but just the most popular ( or in many cases most pitied upon) .
In the rat race of TV contests we are loosing out on some of the most entertaining programmes of TV, quizzes for example are wiped out of the small screen . How many channels today have time for a classical recital or may be folk dances. Where are those brilliant adaptations from regional literature which prompted many in my generation to go in search of the books or their translations? The best part is that some smart companies – mobile network groups and media barons are minting money in the entire tamasha of silly contest and reality shows . I resign to this system as perhaps this is the cost of freedom- you have to deal with a lot of rubbish. The entire media is going crazy… if you find it crazy…sms “C-R-A-Z-Y” or send an email to vote

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