Sunday, June 06, 2010

Reality shows... Or does it?

There are few posts in this blog where the author decides to sacrifice humour, and opinionates, cribs rather, on the topic in question. This is one of them.

Habit has taught us people to use the idiot box as the first medium of exercising entertainment. Sadly though, content on television has degraded. Degraded to the extent of naming a reality show “Truth, Love, Cash”, where the first two words are far from virtues and the last sounds like a reward for arm-twisting the former.

This post is a look of remorse at the present generation. A feel of pity, at the rapid blind westernization that’s come into vogue. Of children loving to “move out” of home once they are in their teens. Of an India that has forgotten its roots. Of a country which once had, mark had, taken pride in its tradition and legacy. Such a country now gapes helplessly at the disturbing content being aired through televisions. Content which can be termed voluntary self-molestation at best, and corporal mortification at worst.

Children who are into their early adulthood are now inclined to a life of adventure. Leaping beyond wooden hindrances twice the height of a person does sound athletic. Driving into hinterlands on bikes in the sweltering heat does go a long way in establishing physical endurance and grit. This is the theme reality shows harped on. But, as competition gobbled up ideas, shows needed to raise the bar. TV Ratings dwindled as content looked and felt routine. Viewership got divided between the various channels that telecast reality shows. Programs needed to get back, and get back strong. The only way they could make this possible was to make adventurous acts look and feel gory. “Physical vulgarity” was the obvious solution.

Readers might wonder as to why my writing is a tad too acerbic. Take my word for this. Do read what follows, and what was written above will only seem inadequate and lacking in expression.
A particular episode of Truth Love Cash (TLC), a reality show aired on Channel [V], had six guys barely into adulthood crouching on their knees, a la dogs. Six heavily built men standing behind them were ready to spank their rears with thick sticks, the hitting end of which had spikes of some material, making it look like a mace. The host of the show demanded “the HIT” once in close to forty seconds, in what was a twenty minute exercise. The participants cried, some choked, others felt nauseated after bearing the pain of each hit through growls, screams, swears and grit-and-ground teeth.

Add to this, the opposite sex of the same age group. There was one male participant who couldn’t bear being spanked, and gave up at the twentieth minute, for he was choking and in want of air-to-breathe. His partner-girl in the competition had this to say: “I know it’s tough, but I was disappointed with him. He could have done better. I never thought he would give up so easily.”
Further, the censor board demands that objectionable words be censored (read BEEPED) out. Trust me; the show had only beeps for the entire half hour. To add to the gore, the channel promises more. UNCENSORED videos on the net.

If that was the physical extreme, reality shows have treaded to the emotional extreme too. Response to eroticism is now monitored in terms of change in the pace of heart-beat. The participant with the least change wins. The contestants, in this case, were made to watch a belly dance, alone and live.

Food for thought, now that the narration is past. What’s telecast in the name of entertainment and reality offers neither. What’s gory is never entertaining and voluntary self-molestation, by the farthest figment of imagination, comes nowhere near reality. Living daily life in front of the lens is not reality. Allowing one’s rear to be spanked by a mace is adventurous perversion, and measuring body reactions in response to stimuli of eroticism is best left unsaid.

Should this mean that song and dance competitions in the name of reality shows are healthy? Far from it. Tender six year olds are made to do multiple rounds of singing and dancing, to the extent of forgoing their primary education. Only to get eliminated mid-way. The poor things cry, sob and weep on stage. So do their parents, and the uncle and aunt who were also packaged into the show. Myriad displays of emotion get compensated by a grand prize. One measly DVD player.

Which brings us to the title of the post. Reality shows... Or does it?