The Disgusting Reality of 'Reality Shows'

The Disgusting Reality Of 'Reality Shows'

adolf washington

by Rev. Fr. Adolf Washington

Are we becoming a nation of voyeurs, peeping Toms and sado-maschosists? At least, this is what the so-called 'Reality Shows' like 'Sach Ka Saamna' (Facing the Truth) or 'Is Jungle Say Mujhay Bachaao' (Save me from this jungle) seem to be suggesting, with their claims that TRP ratings are shooting up with millions of viewers getting hooked on to their shows.

is jungle se muje bachao

The disgusting reality of these 'Reality Shows' is that issues about sex, pre-marital sex, sadomasochism, wife-swapping, that was once looked upon not only as taboo, but also as sinful with religious sanctions against it, are discussed now with absolutely no qualms or queasy feelings on the show, but rather with a subtle endorsement.

One married woman participant for instance, was asked during the show if she would sleep with another man without the knowledge of her husband. She said with a beaming smile and almost instantaneously, "Sure I will". As if the disgusting resolve was not strong enough, the woman went on to answer the second question: "If you learnt that your husband would sleep with another woman would you mind?" she replied, "I sure wouldn't if I could sleep with another man again."

"If one should summarise the whole content or series of these reality shows it could be considered as 'a programme, which considers public entertainment as strangers (men and women) co-habiting, going to bed with each other in turns, speaking openly about their various sexual exploits and experiences with multiple partners, getting beaten up and put through painful 'challenges', made to starve as punishment for breaking the rules, and finally get awarded by the sponsors of the program for being more sexually virile and more aggressively resistant than other 'contestants in the challenge'.

'We have borrowed so much from the West. Among the worst that we have borrowed are these reality shows. We began by tailor-making Indian Idol from the American Idol to tap Indian Talent. But we over-stepped when we grabbed their reality shows with all their obscenity and vulgarity, for an Indian audience."

Reactions against these shows have been a cry in the wilderness. Religious leaders have not voiced their concerns against these shows either because they do not know about it or just that they presume not many would be watching these shows.

School and college heads too have probably not discussed the erosive nature of programs like these in the classroom.

Going by the number of advertisements that run in between these shows, one can be more than sure that advertisers know they are not making a wrong bet.

Our televisions are not in the closet, they are right before mum, dad and the kids. What we watch and enjoy either shapes our present and future mindset or social life. The invasion of traditional values in family life, religion and social life has long begun through television programs and even adverts, The I-pill (anti-contraception pill) advert for instance, featuring a mother enquiring on phone if her daughter has taken the i-pill after hearing that she made a 'mistake'. This advert is flashed almost ten times a day through various channels and important programmes, quite often between cricket matches when India plays.

There is a visible erosion of values. Long co-habiting is now receiving acceptance from the civil courts as something on par with 'marriage'. The Delhi High Court decriminalised homosexuality.

We must be concerned. More than concerned, because the future of the family is at stake and so is the very sacred institution of marriage. While we turn-off these so called 'Reality shows', we must turn-on our minds to think of ways and means we encourage marital fidelity, promote healthy friendships and protect the Family from being perversely re-defined by the whole gamut of junk shows and programmes that invade us by the hour. (SAR)

(The write is President of the Indian Catholic Press Association and PRO Bangalore Archdiocese)