For last few days, I got to do something that I almost never did before. I got some free time in the day in Mumbai and watched some TV Shows.
I cannot help but think of the days when India was socialist and television was something owned and operated by the government. There were only one or two channels. And those channels shut down at late night. If you woke up in the middle of the night and switched the TV on, you would get a striped colored display on screen and an annoying beep.
But there were lots of good programs on the TV. There were many educative programs. When the TV producers did not have to worry about ratings, they could focus on quality. Many of them indeed focused on it.
Then came the era of liberalization and market driven economics. The number of TV channels exploded and they were on for 24 hours.
Occasionally you find some good programs, but large number of them are written for some targeted audience, to serve some targeted purpose. For example the soap operas for women.
I have a question. Why should these soap operas not be called “Emotional pornography” for women?
Just like pornography, they consist of single dimensional characters. Just like pornography, where people come on screen and start having sex, the people in these soap operas come on screen and start having emotional arguments. Just like pornography, you can’t find characters like these in real life.
And then there are reality shows. Where they film a bunch of people for a bunch of time and show only a small amount of dramatic part of it. Is a skewed representation of reality still a reality?
People visit therapists and counselors to solve through their emotional complications, to unwind a tangled feelings and thoughts. These soap operas and reality shows teach you the exact opposite. They slowly erode your skill of handling complex situations and characters, which you find in real life. In a sense, they act like negative therapy.
While I am all for market driven capitalism, I wonder if there has to be room somewhere for mass education, some hand holding of people and guiding them on right track. Or the power off button on remote is all what we have to save ourselves from the negative therapy?