Sunday, April 4, 2010

Television 'empowerment'

I read a thought provoking article in The Hindu today on how Television serials influence and 'empower' Indian women around the world. The reporter had mentioned on how women were not only entertained but even felt empowered watching serials which highlighted the weaknesses of the female community. Anyhow, out of my personal observation I realized a thing. I have two 60+ aunts who are totally into watching soaps. One aunt is addicted to Malu and Tamil-dubbed-into Malu serials and the other manages to watch Hindi and Malu soaps running at the same time. The poor remote suffers in the process but who cares? After all it's not going to make them feel empowered! The former is very creative. She loves poetry and writes a lot of good poetry and stories. I kept telling her to involve herself into such creativity rather than spending 4 hours in front of the TV increasing her blood pressure when the soap will end right at the time when the leading lady is about to give out the ‘secret’. But both my aunts would justify saying that all their lives they've been doing house chores, taking care of their grandchildren, serving everyone around them...that, the least bit of entertainment they could get was by watching these soaps. I could not understand what they felt. It was the Generation gap!

Then the reality shows happened. And they came like a pauper but ended up being the Kings of TRPs! They attracted every sector of the society. It was a full packed drama with dance, costumes and good music! What made me happy was that they took up the prime time of the daily soaps and reduced the prominence of Indian serials. It was a good trend until they ended up with reel, oops! I mean 'real' emotional stints! With emotional atyachaar going on everywhere, it became hard to decide if serials were a better pass time or the latter. No one benefits from all this except for the ones who run the channels.

Coming to my point: Audience has always adjusted to what the Television caters. Once upon a time Doordarshan aired good shows of which everyone became major fans. That crown was taken away by the commercial channels later on. It was more like a relay race with an unpredictable end. Just when I thought that reality shows are really going to get the leading ladies of Soaps end up jobless, Balika Vadhu happened. Whatever the television had catered, from good music to crying serials to dangerous games to swayamvars and the like, they have always managed to get above average levels of TRPs. So from this I understood that audience has always learnt to compromise with what they are spoon-fed with. Just like Political Parties. There is no party with the perfect ideology, or if any, being followed as per the rule book. We all (or at least me) go in for a compromise by voting for the better among the lot. Same way, when one ends up bored after doing whatever possible in their iphones and laptops he tends to adjust himself to what the Television provides. I feel that, like how good journalists attempt to provide literal news, Television must take up the responsibility of showing good shows. At the end of the say it caters to ever sector of the society from kids to grandpas. Few entertainment shows that are harmless can definitely be aired for not only Trps but also for a difference from the usual. YRF Television is doing a good job by providing some good, entertaining, harmless visual treats and reality shows like ‘Dance Indian Dance’ are some popular shows which highlight true talents .But soaps which claim to empower women must get realistic and realize the importance of educating the youth and the old. They must also show situations where a woman literally feels empowered instead of being put through a lie, instead of being put through an emotional, manipulative visual treat.

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