Jul 13, 2012

Why TV shows think I am evil...

So, I've recently been ranting on twitter about regressive tv shows. And I thought this topic deserved its very own blog post.

Now where do I begin? Maybe from the time when I switch to any hindi GEC. Pick any show at random, and under the guise of all the recent fad of 'modernity', you will find some regressive idea being plugged and pushed into people's minds.

I'll give the most recent example that irked me. Boy and girl in some tv show fall in love. Turns out boy was just using girl for some 'revenge'. He impregnated her and then refused to accept the affair. And left the girl 'regretting not agreeing to an arranged marriage'. Regretting love.

There is so much that is wrong with this. Firstly, it's not the first time tv shows have used this plot. It's so common, I am willing to believe that a lot of parents now think that love can only have this outcome and boys are only looking at impregnating and abandoning women. Nothing else. Also, I'd like to believe that women today are much smarter than this. They know about the existence of birth control, they know how to handle a guy and they know how to take care of themselves.

Also, this just leads to reinforce all that Satyameva Jayate with its 'no more honour killings' episode was trying to advise against. It just gets more people to think 'love' is forbidden. And those of you who think this is just fiction are unaware of the power this medium has on a majority of the populace. There could be a bunch of parents locking up their girl for wanting to marry a guy of her choice. And citing the tv show as an example of why love is a bad idea.

That was about love. There is also the issue of working women. What exactly is wrong with independence? What is wrong with wanting to live on your own, with not knowing how to cook and hiring a cook, and so on? Yet, working women are the evil forces wanting to break up homes, only looking for money and so on. If they want a career and money, they are bad. They have to know how to sweep your feet, soak your bullshit, feed you nods of agreement, etc. This is not a thing of the past. Look closely, and you'll see how the shows even today, subtlely reinforce these mindsets.

They will 'allow' the main lead to have a career, but the situations will finally all focus on her either having to balance her home and work, or her being the ultimate woman because she sacrificed career for home. That is just propaganda. Constantly being drilled into the viewers' heads. Slowly. Steadily. Watch them nod at every situation, mumble their approval, take mental notes to use in their life, and form opinions.

Every time a character does something rebellious or different, why does the plot always have to take a bad turn?

We were taught the power of pop culture in literature class. It influences the majority mindset. It is strong enough to bring change. And it is strong enough, as in this case, to reinforce regressive beliefs and thoughts. What the majority likes needn't always be good. But why can't we create only the good, so that the majority can like just what is good?

Where are the shows reflecting an actual teenager's life? Where are the shows that talk about a girl and her real ambitions, lusts, feelings? Maybe not a radical change all at once, for the sake of acceptance. But we can at least begin by Stopping this silliness. Then we can slowly introduce new thinking, and the changing India. Use this medium wisely.

Just one show 'shocking' everyone on Sunday will not bring that much change. Spread it across shows, across channels. Practice the preach in your daily soap story lines.

We feel angry that there are people who blame a woman's dressing choices for her being eve teased. But tell me, how many leading ladies on tv have ventured towards dressing more like urban women today? Those who do wear short skirts, Jeans, halter blouses, are vamps, house breakers, or foreign returns. Why?

I wear skirts, I wear halter blouses and short skirts. I strongly believe in independence and a career. Even though cooking is a hobby, I don't think of it as a necessary skill. I will willingly employ a cook so that I can go to work daily. I prefer a nuclear family, and I do believe that if love happens, one should follow the heart. I know wonderful couples who have fallen in love, and are perfectly happy.

So, if I were to believe these shows, I'm an uncaring, disrespectful vamp who won't ever live happily.
I am evil! Then so be it.


Chris said...

Love the post Haem! Here's a different point of view though. There's nothing wrong with independence or living on your own or career. But they can be dangerous sometimes. Here's a quote from Katie Roiphe in a 1997 article for Esquire entitled "The Independent Woman (and Other Lies)." "I live alone, pay my own bills, and fix my stereo when it breaks down. But it sometimes seems like my independence is in part an elaborately constructed façade that hides a more traditional feminine desire to be protected and provided for." Marriage and family life may not necessarily be a bad thing. Marriage is not an entirely raw deal for women. By spending years and years living entirely for yourself, thinking only about yourself, you never learn to see life beyond yourself. Marriage forces you to grow up, become a more kind, giving, compassionate person. A person not afraid to put someone else's needs above their own purely motivated by love. Besides its possible to be a happily married working mother satisfied with your job. I don't like Hindi serials but lets not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Haem said...

Thanks for reading and commenting chris :-) I do agree with what you say. let me use this chance to further clarify my viewpoint. I am not opposed to the idea of marriage or family. I know women are awesome home makers too. What has irked me is stereotyping. Because I do believe that such stereotyping and compartmentalising leads to the creation of a belief system that will restrict women to only that. What I am saying is, let there be choice. Show all aspects, home, office, even party. But why display that only a housewife or home maker is virtuous? Can I not be caring, and build a home while being career oriented? Even with men, why do boys always have to only take advantage? My problem arises only from the constant drilling of one message, and from segregating something as good or evil. All I say is let there be choice. Else we will end up with many more dhoble think-alikes who believe they can decide what a person (and I don't say just woman) must do.

Mariette said...

Very well put Haem. The deeper issue here is of stereotyping. The lack of choice given to these characters, and how they seem are portrayed to enjoy the regressive role that society has laid out for them. As you mentioned , it is the lack of choice offered that creates a deep rooted issue, which then turns into an attitude of how women 'should' behave and what their roles 'should' be, which then in turn leads to (in extreme but very real cases), anger at the fact that any woman doing something different is defying her place, and hence needs to be 'taught ' a lesson and put back in her place - which ultimately leads to aggression and violence against women. This may be an extreme scenario, but it is very real.
Well thought out and well put.