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Reality Bites The youth is the civic group most enraptured by Reality TVs, as evidenced by the rise of Reality Shows on Indian TV that specifically target the youth e.g. MTV Roadies, Axe your Ex, Emotional Atyachaar, BindassDadagiri etc. Whether these shows are scripted or not are debatable (although chancesare they most probably are scripted) but their popularity is undisputable. The television offers an escape and instant satisfaction to people from the busy, mundane and more often than not, terrible lives they are living. To watch someone dance, cry, laugh, bitched about, yelled at, and fired on TV gives the viewer delectable ecstasy and stress release as the viewer probably lived through that very same episode at some point in their life, and are as such able to relate to the show. However the very same episode may illicit completely opposite reactions in two different viewers, as is most evident between Parents and Teenagers who view these shows together. For parents shows like Splitsvilla, MTV Roadies, Big Boss etc. are a symbol of moral decadence, scripted drama and ambitious youth vying for their 2 minutes of fame by disrobing one's dignity and self-respect, dismantling the trust of one's life-partner, throwing the time-tested values to the wind, shattering family, embarrassing and misguiding the young viewers with abominable deeds. For youth reality shows are a platform/medium for the common man to gain instant exposure, fame or money. They might also help in increasing one's confidence level and self-awareness, and depiction of the youth as foul-mouthed scheming delinquents is a mirror of modern society. No doubt, reality shows offer opportunities to the common man to gain instant exposure, fame or money. They might also help in increasing one's confidence level and self-awareness.But as studies show, it is basic human nature to revel in other people's miseries and misfortunes or SCHADENFREU DE , German loanword to the English language is formed by combining “Schaden” (adversity, harm) and “Freude” (joy), which literally means “To derive pleasure form other people’s misery” . It then becomesan addiction as the people tend to get caught up in other's lives on television and the daily events surrounding them while they forget about their own. It is akin to getting a “narcotic fix” or Alcohol, indulging in which sends the user into blissful ignorance and euphoric ecstasy. TV has found its way into even the most poor and illiterate households and right from lowest social strata of the society to the very highest; everyone is watching Big Boss,the socio circus that utilizes washed up celebs, loud foul-mouths, token beauties, sensationalism and voyeurism. Voyeurism is the dark side of a person's nature, buried deep in each and every person. Exposure to such events through reality shows can impact the psychological growth of a teenager, leading to the loss of sensitivity and the basic senseof humanity in him/her.

"If the viewer does not like a show he/she has every freedom to turn off the channel", is the standard argument of defence most often used by the producers of reality shows, which appears to be analogous to presenting a child with a chocolate cake and giving him/her the option of eating it or leaving it. Profiteering off of the dark side of human nature which remain suppressed otherwise due to societal taboos has turned out to be a masterstroke in Media Programming. These reality shows along with Talent (Dance/Song) Shows have also introduced the element of voting, by which viewers can “influence” the outcome of the show in “a democratic and transparent manner” all the while making truckloads of cash by votes, TRPand Advertisers. Whether these shows serve any progressive purpose for humanity is anybody’s guess, considering that in 1995 when Govinda’s “Meri Pant bhi sexy” came onto the scene the Indian public sprang into an uproar in protest of the song for using the word “sexy”. Now thanks to constant use of the word in various media it no longer has the vulgar connotation that it once used to have and is as such used by everyone; anywhere and anytime. Maybe modern reality shows are a reflection of the rapidly evolving youth that attempt to keep the rest of the people up to speed with the development, or not. In either caseas Shakespeare said, "There is a method in madness". And for better or for worse it seemsto be doing wonders for the producers and TV channels and who knows they may help alleviate other social taboos that exist in Indian society even including social practices of teleologicalism (End justifies the means) in which Bitching, Betrayal and Backstabbing are acceptable means to achieving one’s objectives may it be Beg, Borrow or Steal.


Reality Bites  

Reality Television in India. The modern voicebox of the youth. Enabling moral decadence or highlighting it?

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