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The Reality of Reality Shows And Is The Government Interference Justified?

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Reality Shows have taken the Indian Entertainment by the storm. TV was never so up close and personal like the way it is, with a flurry of Reality Shows being dished out from every other channel.

If I am not wrong, the trend was started by the oh-so creative MTV India, with one of the most popular shows a.k.a MTV Roadies. The show was a stupendous success and has been carrying on for quite sometime now.

Switch to the present and we have too many shows to count on fingers. In this wave of Reality Shows, the recent biggies that have caught the eye of everyone are Rakhi ka Svyamvar and Sach Ka Saamna.

Sach ka Samna – a rip-off from ‘The Moment Of Truth’, has been subjected to a lot of criticism on moral and cultural issues.

I am not here to justify the credibility of the show and its repercussions on the cultural and moral values of the viewers, but one thing I am certain of is this, The Indian Entertainment Industry is definitely not degrading the cultural values of India by airing such shows. Why? There are multi-fold reasons for this,

  • Media won’t show something until there are enough takers
  • Media is not forcing anyone to watch what they are airing; the viewer can switch the channel anytime he/she wants.
  • The average Indian TV viewer IMHO is smart enough to distinguish between what is harmless Entertainment and what to take out of it.

If these shows were about destroying the Indian Cultural Values, why do we see amazing TRP’S on these Reality Shows. This guarantees the fact, that there is a good percentage of the viewers who want to see the Reality Shows.

It is outright wrong to call these Reality Shows a culture Destroyer.

Moreover, for those viewers who go all out in bad mouthing these serials, why do they see the show at all. For people who see these shows and still give their speech on morality, this picture is an apt one

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Viewer discretion apart, what pains me the most is the Reality Show coverage In the Parliament. This is the height of stupidity. Aren’t there more critical issues at hand then discussing whether the Government should ban shows like “Sach ka Samna” etc.

Last I checked India had serious problems with poverty, economy and infrastructure to name a few. And these are the areas we need the government to act.

But, did we actually go out there and ask the government to become the ‘Keepers of our Cultural Values”. I sure didn’t. And why should we, the way I see it, Cultural/Moral Values are Individualistic things.

Having said that, it doesn’t mean that the media/entertainment channels don’t influence them. But if that’s the case, why single out the Reality Shows et all. The Government should then ban all Saas-Bahu epidemic that is being thrown at the viewer along with lot of other trash which from a moral perspective are bad influences.

I saw a debate on the same on NDTV at their show ‘Big Fight’. It was a good discussion with active participation from media (Pooja Bedi) and Politics (god knows who?) .

I am no fan of Ms. Pooja Bedi given her theatrics but she made some real good points and gave the politicians a taste of their own medicine. Some of the points she made were infact very apt and defended the Reality Show pretty well.

If a Pooja Bedi can give politicians a hard time in a debate, which is supposedly their (politicians) forte, isn’t it evident that the Politicians are not on the right side of the debate.

With that, it is interesting to note why the Government is more bothered about the kind of content displayed on the TV rather than the more important ones that they are actually supposed to.

I may not have the right answer for it, but for my 2 cents.

“In this era of Publicity, The Politicians sure did not want to be left out of the coverage”

What is your take on this? Do you think the TV Channels need to be censored or monitored for the content they create and air? Moreover, do we need this to be decided in the Parliament?

Would love to hear reader’s views on this

[This post has been written by Ankit Agarwal, an ERP Consultant by profession, a wannabe entrepreneur and stock market stalker by passion]

  1. Mohan says

    while it is ridiculous to suggest that reality shows are destroying indian values, I think that most of what is shown on television is tasteless content (including saas-bahu serials) which is ripped off from somewhere…in fact in shows like “is jungle se muzhe bachao”, even the exact format is copied down to the minutest details…while in some shows (rip-off of “30 seconds to fame”, dont remember name), producers of the show have tried to make few, unimaginative changes…Television viewers watch this crap because there is nothing better available anywhere else…and then they gradually bring their standards down to that of these shows…though there are other mediums available, tv is the most convenient medium of entertainment…so such shows like beer are “acquired taste” rather than “preferred taste”…

  2. sachith says

    reality shows kicked out with great intrests in the beging with shows like kaun banega crorepati,indian idol , laughter challenge etc shows like these encourage people to bring up their talents and get encourage in activities like singing,dancing etc

    but shows like rakhi ka swayamvar destroys our moral values with spoiling our tradition and our culture …

    Shows like THE MOMENT OF TRUTH asks personal matters infront os everyone and they get first prize if htey win and lose if they lie ….. they ask a lady “have u ever slept with another man, or had an affair ,”
    “what would u do if your husband would sleep with another women ” questions like this should not be asked what would happen if ur mom or u or ur dad or ur sister would have asked this questions [this line is not to abuse u but to express what would happen if this happens to ur closest ones not to abuse u ]

    Shows like MTV roadies and spitsvilla just show how to use abusive , talk gossip,that is vulgar/abusive/controversial enough to be taped and aired . Then add to this program some human elements like laughing, crying, caring, attraction, and some spontaneity. The most sought after by viewers. This makes it a complete package “interesting enough” to be aired round the clock.(Must confess that the contestants are better looking every year, if u know what I mean.)

    Such programs will make people lose rationality, respect for others. People will turn into machines that insult, taunt, gossip, abuse, brag about nothing, roam meaninglessly, etc.

    and u said remote was invented to change and witch channels what led to the invention of remote that is the curiosity of humans that curiosity will push the people to watch these type of programs there are millions of people watching televisions and and the youth ‘s life will be spoiled . if the mps raised their voices in the parlia ment then if each citizen raises their voices our indian culutures , tradition,values will be restored . Our indian culture,tradition,values are said to be the world’s finest one !! that is the which makes you say I AM PROUD TO BE AN INDIAN so if ur an indian and do not want our moral values and culture,tradition not to destroyed then protest against these type if reality shows

    1. Mohan says

      sachith…whoever you are…your english is really terrible…first please bring your english to a level where people can understand your rantings and then write on blogs…

      i dont know what your problem is…if you are talking about culture being spoiled, i think it is more the responsibility of the television viewers to avoid the such shows…

      the government and our MPs needs to concentrate on more pressing issues like employment, education and erradicating corruption…they are getting into this fracas only to get their share of the lime-light (and some kick-backs from the television channels)!!!

  3. apoorva says

    well this politics is also a kind of a drama…nd we all noe dat..these politicians r not taking the problems of our country seriously nd waisting time,discussing on such stupid issues!!!.
    but atleast we should be aware of …and not reacting like the politicians do..so
    if we really care for our religious/cultual values to sustain then hav control on oneselves and take those serials juss for entertainment not to currupt our thougts by absorbing that wat happening in these reality shows…well one can hav a good control on himself/herself if watching it..as no one is forcing it to be watched…..everyone noes there is less of truth and more of a drama in these reality shows juss to raise their TRP and making money out of it…there r lots of people specially youths watching it in g8 number then why should they stop making it..afterall entertainment on TV is all a part of buisness and so is their work.

  4. Ankit says

    @Sherwan

    Good point here.
    Given the kinda stickiness that the saas-bahu soaps have had and so damn close to reality they are(atleast t way they potray relations, brickbats) and stuff, i would say the reality shows are better off as one off entertainment

  5. sherwan ahsan says

    Couldn’t agree more with arun…its high time we exercise tolerance over our objections..the fact that such shows draw high TRPs is testimony enough to the fact that there is a huge audience out there…and we are no one to decide what they ought to watch….let they themselves be the judge…and as far as entertainment is concerned,I(and many more from my ilk) believe that Rakhi’s antics are any day better than the saas bahu conspiracies our audiences are subjected to :D
    for more on Rakhi and her swayamver
    http://blog.idubba.com/2009/08/09/the-pursuit-of-rakhi/

  6. Ankit says

    Well @Natraj, you have it bang on target this time.. The Politicians do not want to be left out of this free publicity.
    But then, what pains me is that “We” the people elect them at the first place.So,somewhere we too are the culprits.May be will keep this discussion for another post:D

  7. Natrajan says

    Politics is a big reality show in itself. Politicians are against these TV reality shows as it competes with them and politicians lose their time on the TV. This is the main reason for opposing the reality shows.

    For more insight into Indian reality shows check the following articles.

    http://strat.in/2009/08/rakhi-and-her-dramatic-swayamvar-what-sells-in-indian-television/

    http://strat.in/2009/07/reasons-for-reality-show-dominance/

  8. Ankit says

    @rabi thanks a lot!! Feels great to be a part of trak.in and particpating in the discussions!!!

  9. Ankit says

    @mayavi Thanks for ur detailed opinion
    Now for the first one, i understand that not all the viewers are smart enough to differntiate whats wrong and right.That is where Parental guidance should kick in.Moreover, if you dont show it on TV, isnt there any other the not so smart ones will go watch it.
    I basically meant it in the part that media,entertainment,opinions. all these are very vague and change with people.there is no way we can make everyone happy.So, a consensus may not be possible.

    For a censorship, how do i gaurantee that the censor board will cater to all sections of society.
    If i find violence a bad influence, should they ban it too.that way, almost everything will have to be bad even the news channels.

    So, the idea here is that instead of people talking all rubbish bout it, they might as well dont watch the channel broadcasting it!!
    And the jest of the post was, that this is something not to be highlited in the parliament is absurd

    As for the porn part, yes it can get them very high trp’s but it is something which even the smart ones will find difficult to resist.moreover, it is outright understood that they are not legit to be broadcasted

    PS:: BTW m not a 30 year old married guy!! I am a just crossed teenager and very much single!!

    Appreciate your comment too!!

  10. mayavi says

    >> If u and I dont like watching them, we switch the channel:D The viewer is smart enough to know whats best for him.

    what about those viewers who are not smart enough and viewers who can be easily carried away in to believing one way or the other just by the looks of it…!!??

    I am talking about teenager… who are in quazi decision making state from their adolescent hormonal rush!!

    i am sure it is reasonable to expect that a married 30 yr guy or any other mature older (now i am not saying u r a 30yr old married guy :) coz I donno u… ) would best know what he likes n does not – and to him this show might not have much of an impact on his lifestyle or thought process…

    but what about a teenager …? a guy/girl at 16 – 20 yr or whatever less than 23yrs ..??? in the age-zone of being influenced..?? I am sure they can be quite easily be influenced and i am not sure if everyone agrees if this is the kind of influence is legitimate .. given that parents are increasingly having less control of the TV influence on their kids.! ..

    and the other argument
    >> TV channels show reality show becoz people like it and watch it..

    I can do a million dollar bet that TRP rating of channel showing uncensored – unrestricted – free – Porn channel or highly sensual videos will sky rocket as well..!! :)
    why can’t we just do that..

    I am sure the argument –
    >> If u and I dont like watching them, we switch the channel:D The viewer is smart enough to know whats best for him. — ho
    – holds good here as well! ;-)

    Having a parliamentary discussion on this is a whole different ball game!!!

    I would agree stricter censorship though..

  11. rabi gupta says

    Lots of interesting stuff happening over this post :). Congrats Ankit and Arun!

  12. Ankit says

    Whoa, So we have @rakhisawant too..As arun said, the authenticity is doubtful:) but then yes, if you did get married on live TV, kudos to u.Even though i dont approve of such an act, but to each his/her own.

    @nikhil Eggjactly my point.If u and I dont like watching them, we switch the channel:D The viewer is smart enough to know whats best for him.

  13. Nikhil Kadadi says

    I’m certainly no fan of reality shows & neither had nor have the inclination of watching them, but i don’t believe these shows destroy our culture and morality, i know a lot of close people who watch these purely as entertainment after a hard day’s work and nothing else and they are doing fine and not getting influenced in a negative way and changing their believes because of it!

  14. Ankit says

    @pooja bedi

    It was indeed a great experience to watch and hear you speaking for what is right.What was much better is that your defence was justified with your opinions and not because of you belonging to same industry.
    I wish more and more people start taking things the way they should be.
    Thanks again for taking the effort to read the post.
    BTW, dint know you had a online presence too.
    Are u on twitter?? :)

  15. Rakhi Sawant says

    This is an interesting debate. People like to watch reality shows and thats why they are so popular.
    And I really got engaged on the reality show. How much more real can a reality show get? Please grow up and face the truth.
    — Rakhi Sawant

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      @rakhi Thanks for dropping by and commenting. (I really hope you are the real one though, lot of impersonators around here)
      Its reality show alright, but bottom line is, its all about money…and TRPs, everything is good for business and biggest thing celebrities are making truckloads of money.

      What I am worried is Rakhi ka Swayamvar & Sach ka Saamna has taken reality shows to a level where audience are literally entering into completely intimate space of an individual.

  16. pooja bedi says

    thank you for the compliments..
    nice to be watched, heard and responded to in a positive light…
    glad to see we’re both on the side of progress and looking to do away with regressive thought processes and those looking to create an uproar for reasons best known only to them….

  17. Ankit says

    @akhil Glad u agree with me!!! But, given that, the government is decided by us only.So, it is a a very bad vicious circle after all

  18. akhil sethi says

    I think Ankit is right in saying that Govt. should focus on other issues like poverty, Employment & infrastructure in this Economic Slowdown, rather than on these trivial issues like in deciding what people should watch or not….!!!!
    The public is much more educated enuf now to decide upon the choice of serials/shows they should watch.

  19. Ankit says

    Well said Sriram!! U nailed this one perfectly.

    Publicity it is for sure.But what hurt me most was the politicians resorting to it, they have enough of a horrible past to make them immortals:)

  20. Sriram Vadlamani says

    If TV is the greatest invention of our generation then remote is the greatest invention since TV. People ought to use it at will. If you don't like it change it or shut it.

    On the contrary I think the Sach Ka Samna issue is a publicity stunt. Remember, any publicity is a good publicity in show biz.

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