Tuesday, July 01, 2008

On Reality Shows

I am sure you have heard about Shinjini, the 16-year old girl who was criticized for her performance in a dance reality show, driving her into depression. She has now lost her voice, and the movement in her limbs, and is under treatment in NIMHANS, Bangalore. Her parents blame the jury of the show, and are angry that the media is pointing fingers at them. Who is responsible? Well, I say that everybody is responsible. The parents, the jury, the makers of the show, the channel, and all of us too, the audience who watch and applaud these shows.

It was cute, I admit it, when the first reality show with children was aired. We watched transfixed, marveling at the immense talent of these kids. The TRPs soared, the other channels caught on, and now you have a proliferation of reality shows in all channels, all languages, all kinds (dance/music/talent/you-name-it).

As I hardly watch television, I am not too familiar with national shows. But I get fleeting glimpses of the Kannada reality shows when my mom-in-law watches television. Admittedly, the kids are super-talented, and it is a pleasure to hear a few of them sing. But to put them through all that stress, the competition, is it really fair on them?

I have seen how those innocent faces crunch up with tension when the results are being announced, I see how some of them break down when they are eliminated, I can see the tears and disappointment in the parents' eyes, I can see some parents who get up and start fighting, and then I can see embarrassment on the child's face... really, is all this necessary?

Do they want to bring out talent? Let them have shows, just shows, not competitions.. but of course, the TRPs will drop you see..... I know people who watched the elimination rounds of Indian Idol and American Idol just to see how rude the judges were to the participants. So, obviously, people like to watch the judges put the participants down, and so the programmes have them. TRPs, you see...

A couple of Kannada shows that I have seen have the judges being very soft to the children. They correct them, but very gently. It can be argued that the kids can be praised publicly, but corrected in private. But that is not enough. To put kids through stressful competitions like these is not excusable.

And I don't even want to talk about those dance shows. Little girls, dressed in shiny, skimpy, stuff, moving their body to obscene lyrics - cringe-worthy and disgusting to say the least. I cannot believe that people actually watch it with pleasure.

Everything, everything for that elusive fifteen seconds of fame.

Childhood is the only innocent stage we have in our lives. Why sully this golden period? Let children remain children.


SloganMurugan said...

Dream on.
But then, it's your choice. Do what you think is right for your child.

Wunderyearz said...

I completely agree with you. I still remember watching the first season of Sa Re Ga Ma with mom. We would never miss the show, but as time went by the number of shows have increased and now it is not about finding talents but purely being in the limelight and earning money like never before.......
Hope the whole situation is not going to get worse than this....

Anonymous said...

A lovely post!!
Just what i feel when ever i see even singing competations!!


Anonymous said...

So well said Shruthi.

In this regard , I appreciate Kannada E-TV's "ede thumbi haaduvenu " very much . S.P Balasubramanyam handles this show with such dignity. He neither praises an individual child to the sky nor brings down anybody.

The way he comments on the "pure music" part of it is a pleasure to watch.

- Anitha.

Emma said...

I totally agree with what you say. To me to a large extent the parents are to be blamed. I can't help but wonder if they don't realize what they are putting their children through.

But yes, others - channels, show producers, audience - cannot be condoned.

Manasa said...

Even Anu Malik was too rude while screening the contestants for Indian Idol. Though, he always flicked music tunes from English hits, shamelessly he commented on the contestants. One even told him-tu bahaar aayega tho khalaaas!

Sa Re Ga Ma Little Champs on Zee where Sonu and Suresh Wadkar are the guest and SPB in Ede Tumbi Haaduvenu put their comments in a gentle manner without
hurting anyone's sentiment.

At the same time, parents should also counsel their kids in a right way that-its not the only competition and there are much more coming ahead. Winning should not be the only reason for participation. There's a bright future for everyone.

Mama - Mia said...

oh well!

its all about money honey!! with the craze for reality shows getting worse, they are just truong everything!

i wonder what is it that appeals to our baser instinct to watch other people fall and fumble?!

i havent watched TV in ages and everytime i read such posts i feel i am really not missing anything!



Sachin said...

Hey, wanted to add that just the other day I was comparing my childhood with the kids I see these days. Just imagine the amount of outdoor activities we used to have as compared to the kids of today who do not even look further than their computer games, music channels etc.

Teenage faces do not reflect the innocence that teens during our age had - they are knowing, unchildlike and somehow its very disturbing to see the knowledge they are already equipped with. Anyway, if we want to, guess we will have to work around it and find ways to make sure that childhood for our kids is what according to us, is a real childhood.

Usha said...

I have stopped watching these shows. Some of the children sing very well but I have had enough of the tears and the drama that seem to be a prt of every episode.
Agree totally with the sentiments you have expressed.

anoop said...

I had grown tired screaming hoarse about these "reality shows". At least you have a better way to fight this 'social evil' - by blogging about it.

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Shruthi, tagged you: http://sudiptachatterjee.blogspot.com/2008/07/litterateur.html

Will come back and read the post later :)

Anonymous said...

Pull the plug on all reality shows featuring children - that's my opinion. Let kids be kids, playful, innocent and not a care in the world!

I gather that this whole Television Rating Points(TRP) thing is flawed and does not measure the popularity of a show accurately since the equipment used to gather data that is used to come up with the TRP for a show is designed for more homogeneous western societies where it has been known to work within acceptable limits of errors for many decades. The same equipment imported and used in India, where the society is a heterogeneous mix of culture and language, will never measure the popularity of a show the same way as they do in a homogeneous society.

Media executives, armed with inaccurate TRP data, could be making wrong TV programming decisions that could have serious implications on the society and country itself.

The sad story of Shinjini could be a wake-up call to everyone - media executives, parents and viewers - to step back and think if we, as adults, are doing everything right to give our children a better tomorrow. A tomorrow where they can live a better, happier and healthier life.

Anonymous said...

ooops! Forgot to include my signature in my anonymous comments.



Madhu said...

Well said, Shruthi.. can't agree more on this.. I have also watched some of these shows and find them totally ridiculous.. it's all about getting that instant fame and money these days which are really not worth.. and I agree with one of the readers on the show "Ende thumbi haduvenu".. it is one show which is aired without frills attached.. simple yet entertaining to watch the participants sing.

Bhupi said...

I'm not a TV fan at all. I do even think I would not keep a TV in my house when I have kids(don't know how much feasible that would be).

But to your point i think the reality shows are ok for adults as they are responsible for what they do, unlike kids. Kids do what parents want them to do without even fully understanding what they are doing.

All this gave a thought to my mind. Are these reality shows for kids any less than child labor? Comparing the stress, mental agony and embarrassment they have to go thru.

Goli said...

I completely agree with you, and have never been a fan of any of this reality shows. But just my two cents on the debate of children in reality show.

I really think government cant do anything about this, I think it is responsibility of parents. Parents have to teach kids that this is just for fun, and idea is not to win. I think with this idea instilled the shows can go a long way in making kids confident.

Mampi said...

These reality shows are a raging favorite with people. But what they bring out is the sadistic in them. I have always felt that performance is more important than winning, and that is what most of these judges proclaim that they believe in. However, their bitter, sarcastic, criticizing and biting remarks always amaze me-given that they are supposed to be great artists judging the lesser mortals.
Well written post.

Kadalabal said...

nothing but to say agree agree agree with each word of your post. parental pressure is too much and the selection of songs etc., some times is sp irritating.
I agree with anitha SPB is doing a great service to this field and he is superb and encourages the child and warns parents and the music teachers to select songs with good themes and not some lousy songs carrying obscene material being sung by a small girl/boy without knowing what they are singing.
wish this poor victim will come back and shine well like a phoenix

shark said...

somehow I for one blame the parents 100%. Yes they are to be blamed completely. If they don't know what is good or bad for their own kid.. how can they expect somebody else (in this case the channel and the judges) to be "sensitive"? After all they are in that for money. But you as a parent is sending your child there!
Either prepare your child to accept failures or don't take to competitions.
In a competition one wins and one fails and criticism is bound to come specially on a national TV channel. They should have understood this and prepared their child accordingly.
Its unfair to ask others to behave when you yourself are pushing your child beyond limits.

As others have also pointed out, i really admire how SPB does the show. Hats off to him!

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Swati said...

Well said!

Shruthi said...

Gopal: That of course, is correct.

Wunderyearz: Well, I hope there will be a limit when audiences will get bored of it!

Mohan: Thank you!

Anitha: I so agree with you. A dignified, decent, show, and SPB says it all so gracefully.

Emma: I tend to think so too. But unfortunately parents think they are doing the right thing.

Manasa: That's true. Parents need to instil in the child the confidence that this is not the end of the road. But losing is one thing, getting rebuked is quite another!

Abha: You are totally not missing anything :D And thanks for the comments on the other posts too!

Sachin: I agree with you completely. Kids look much older than they are. SUch a pity.

Usha: Yeah, the tears move me to tears. Not worth it.

Anoop: Yeah, but how effective it is? So far, all that it has helped in is that my burden got lightened :D

Sudipta: Oh, I have already done that tag!

Vish: Really? I didn't know this about TRP, though I have always wondered how they measure it. Nobody asks me, for exampld :D And in that case, it is even more frightening.

Madhu: Agree with you. SPB is really very good.

Bhupi: I used to think so too, but I realized that it is not practical to totally shun TV. Limited use is always good. And child labour?. That is a thought-provoking perspective.

Goli: Yeah, the onus is on the parents. But the channel, programme makers have a hand in it too.

Mampi: you are so right. It just shows what these "artistes" really are.

Kadalabal: I hope for the best for Shinjini too!

Shark: You have a point. Once parents take these kids to such competitions, they need to have trained them mentally too. But of course, who can read the mind of a sensitive child?

Swati: Thank you!

Ms Cris said...

Well said

Kadalabal said...

great news Shinjini is fine and released from hospital and was looking quite ok.
but I heard something worst in another reality show I dont know the details I think somebody slapped a guy and whole show was taken aback. if someone knows more details they can share

Veena said...

i agree with you completely!
The other day, I took my 4 year old kids to a birthday party.
The party was in full swing..
Loud music --top kannada numbers and 4-5 yr old kids gyrating to the music.
When My kids were asked to dance, they declined politely saying,
"Illa, nange dance barolla".
At this, The older kids started teasing ,"Yenu, dance barollva?"

At my place, we never encourage kids to ape the film heroines and dance/sing.That explains why my kids cant dance..
Dancing to popular numbers has become such an "in thing" nowadays
that I start getting worried when I see the confused look on my kids faces...
What has the world come to?

nagashree said...

hi U ve written what i was thinking for all these years. Thanks a lot. Some shows creully harass the children just for the fulfilment of their selfish mottos such as TRP,advertising time so on...

Atleast the parents should have the heart to respect and love the soft and tender feelings of those cute buddies.one and all should learn to handle n respect the self esteem of children rather than getting cheap entertainment from these shows...

We as a responsible human beings stop watching and start protesting against these literally horror shows.


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