Reality drama: reality not only bites, but it also reaps in a hell lot of profits.

September 7, 2009 at 8:01 pm (Uncategorized)

There used to be a time when simplicity used to reign in the television circuit; a normal day would consist of a series of cooking shows, talk shows on current affairs and soap operas. Sure, the soap operas were a bit over the top (ladies’ faces caked with makeup, lame cliched dialogues and never ending episodes devoted to certain conniving characters who have nothing better to do than plot and conspire against the main character who possesses such an angelic like demeanor that it’s to the point of being absolutely ridiculous) but one could take comfort in the fact that television, in general, is mainly a source of entertainment and although we may not like certain aspects of it, yet largely it helps us get through the day. Thus we were content.

However, big shots at certain production houses began to think otherwise. They thought that many areas of the media horizon were yet unexplored and that such areas held immense potential. If they were able to tap into them, they would become millionaires. Thus the concept of  ‘Reality TV’ was born. Now here was something new for the viewers to devour. Instead of pre-determined stories and scripted dialogues, people will now get a chance to see participants ‘react’ to certain situations that are thrust upon them. Gives a whole new meaning to the following phrase, doesn’t it?

Some are born great, some achieve greatness and yet some have greatness thrust upon them

Now viewers can see people similar to who they are tread a path full of obstacles in the quest to achieve greatness and make a name for themselves. In other words, viewers can easily ‘relate’ to the participants. Therefore these kind of programs do provide some appealing entertainment.

However due to the fantastic response received by their audience, creators of such shows are now exploring every available avenue for something which they can project to their viewers and in doing so they are looking, to say the very least, quite desperate. For example, a show which is currently being aired on Star World by the name of ‘Are you smarter than a 5th grader?’ Why everyday people who have stable jobs and stable lives risk public humiliation by coming on national television and fumble around for answers to 5th grade questions is beyond comprehension. Upon first arriving on stage, their chins are high and with puffed chests they announce to everyone that going through this competition would be a piece of cake for them as they were A+ students back in grade school. What image they project at the end of the show is anybody’s guess.

Then there’s another series which surely pushes the envelope; ever heard of ‘America’s Greatest Dog’? Now you can get the chance to see a number of dog owners subject their canine counterparts to the greatest humiliation and embarrassment. Yes it’s a sad day in Poochie Land. Beneath all the frills and glitter, i am sure there is a poor, unconfident canine, who suffers from such immense low self esteem and inferiority complex that it may not possess the energy to bark in protest.

Even our own country, Pakistan has not been able to escape from this reality drama mania. ‘Maachis’ proves to be a good example in this case. Now we are no strangers to televised court dramas; in fact such scenarios ensure immediate justice which are a blessing especially in our case where the judicial system is in dire straits. However even these have been corrupted by adding spice and masala to attract the audience into watching certain families show their dirty laundry in public. Such shows are being shown with shameless abandon. From start to finish, the show is engulfed with shouts of allegations and accusations from both sides with the host’s voice sounding as loud as the participants’ voices and thus causing you to keep your television volume to the bear minimum. In short, it can be called our very own Jerry Springer show. The only difference is that instead of showing images of gays and lesbians making out on stage, one sees images of people belonging to the same family but at odds with each other over a certain issue and thus persistently trying to drown the other person’s voice.

Unfortunately due to the lack of check and control on behalf of the authorities with regard to the proper operation and procedures of such reality television shows, sometimes the producers of such shows in their greed for more profits tend to cross the line. And sadly, many times the cost associated with such greedy and selfish pursuits is too high and completely irreversible. Case in point: Saad Khan’s untimely death due to the excessive danger he had to face in a certain reality show sponsored by Unilever. As part of the exercise, he had to carry a load weighing a couple of tons on his back and swim across a river within the time limit allotted to him. During the task, he began to face some difficulty keeping his head above the water. Other contestants standing ashore watched in horror as he disappeared underwater and never emerged. Unilever accepted no liability for Khan’s death.The company is in discussions to provide for Khan’s wife and four children “out of rightness”. Having said that, it is evident how dangerous such shows can become. Such shows are the manifestation of the greed and selfishness of certain producers who are always on the lookout for higher ratings which can be translated into higher profits. i believe there is no way the death of a family member could be compensated for. Gluttony has reared its ugly head for all to see this time.

To give an idea of how ridiculous reality shows have become, the following video should put things into perspective. =)

until next time, ciao. =)

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