Trends are sometimes inspired by other trends. Funny! That could be a new trend in itself. Especially when it involves media channels and their influence on the discerning public. Discerning—because people always have a choice. Not to switch channels but to squeak in protest. It’s a norm today in most channels to highlight mistakes, misunderstandings, mistresses, misanthropes, misogynists…the list is endless. Makes one feel like Armageddon is around the corner.
Let’s look at the entertainment diffusers. As the very name suggests, they are big perpetrators of “enter” “tain(t)ment”. Everyone is tainted here. Even the role model goes to jail wrongfully or rightfully. It’s a cross between The Bold and the Beautiful meets Dynasty meets the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Soon, I’m sure, there will be Sex and the City meets Desperate Housewives, within permissible Indian morality codes, of course.
Let’s shift to a new-age fun medium. Gaming. The sweeping success of Grand Theft Auto was its ability to beam live (apparently) how evil evil could get. In India, extremes in social class were what made bad things happen. Many movies between the 1960s and the 1980s captured that trend. Today, however, relationships have become the new evil. That is lavishly captured and twisted dispassionately (most insights are not even a mass reality) on a medium that beams into your home every day and influences many minds.
Pause a moment. When adultery mixes with Indian joint families, amnesia stumbles upon multiple spouses, when skin tone meets the aspirational Aryan suitor, when chinna veedu (the second house) is a necessary norm, when a star’s extramarital affair stifles the homecoming of a martyr… what do you expect reality to mirror? Why is every (TV serial) episode about dysfunctionality?
Do we see little worries, suspicions, relationship quagmires creeping into our everyday lives? I suspect so! Most of us are highly vulnerable to emotional theatrics, especially of the pessimistic kind.
It’s fomenting strong behavioural changes. We are unknowingly but voluntarily letting negative energy into our homes. Inspirational, life-changing imagery is getting replaced by malicious, guilt-ridden, lascivious, petty talk script writing. Practical woes are now melodramatic spectacles. We are breeding the seeds of angst in our own havens.
So, here is a suggestion for the disseminators. Just like we have dry days when the higher echelons impose abstinence, there are (can be) “happy days” in every month that programmes assiduously follow. Scriptwriters indulge their comic, optimistic, visionary, among others, skills on those days. Can’t negate the bad hair days but can at least ensure gorgeous hair more often. That way, there will be a balance. Good and bad. Yin and Yan. Now, that’s a life of worthwhile choices.
Sandhya Srinivasan is senior vice-president and director, strategic planning, Law and Kenneth India.
As told to Anushree Chandran.