Macchars don’t wear sweaters

Happiness and TV

Posted on: August 4, 2010

As i was watching Indian Idol the other night, and the broadly smiling hosts, I wondered why it is that there is never an unpleasant moment in reality shows like this. Nobody ever slips up, stutters, has awkward moments or says anything unpleasant. Not just the media people, who have been hardened over years of facing attention and the camera, but also the contestants, flung into the limelight only very recently. They are pictures of poise when they modestly acknowledge the appreciation they get, when they laugh good naturedly on being cornered, when awed by the celebrity guest (who is also their childhood idol), or when bonding and having college fun with their fellow contestants. Even the tears are timely.

Sometimes I feel its just me being a misanthrope and grudging these people their happiness. But then there are other reasons. The marketing department cannot let the show be hostage to fickle individual behavior and relationships, because the show is a product which needs to be packaged and sold. So behaviors have to be orchestrated, emphasized with music, and unpalatable parts edited out. Everybody obviously also self censors according to the situation, as in everyday life situations.

The behavior on shows sets up standards of behavior for the audiences. The ideal of “happiness” put out by these shows does to some extent creep into our life. The same holds true for the bitchy genre of shows on MTV, UTV etc. They convey standards of behavior of a different nature, targeted towards youngsters. As the media sinks deeper and deeper into our lives, maybe our ideas of happiness, self and behavior become increasingly “media savvy” and plastic as in the world of advertisements and shows on TV. The thought makes me wince.

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4 Responses to "Happiness and TV"

“It was hard and sour, but, as Poushkin said, the illusion which exalts us is dearer to us than ten thousand truths. I saw a happy man, one whose dearest dream had come true, who had attained his goal in life, who had got what he wanted, and was pleased with his destiny and with himself. In my idea of human life there is always some alloy of sadness, but now at the sight of a happy man I was filled with something like despair. And at night it grew on me. A bed was made up for me in the room near my brother’s and I could hear him, unable to sleep, going again and again to the plate of gooseberries. I thought: ‘After all, what a lot of contented, happy people there must be! What an overwhelming power that means! I look at this life and see the arrogance and the idleness of the strong, the ignorance and bestiality of the weak, the horrible poverty everywhere, overcrowding, drunkenness, hypocrisy, falsehood. . . . Meanwhile in all the houses, all the streets, there is peace; out of fifty thousand people who live in our town there is not one to kick against it all. Think of the people who go to the market for food: during the day they eat; at night they sleep, talk nonsense, marry, grow old, piously follow their dead to the cemetery; one never sees or hears those who suffer, and all the horror of life goes on somewhere behind the scenes. Everything is quiet, peaceful, and against it all there is only the silent protest of statistics; so many go mad, so many gallons are drunk, so many children die of starvation. . . . And such a state of things is obviously what we want; apparently a happy man only feels so because the unhappy bear their burden in silence, but for which happiness would be impossible. It is a general hypnosis. Every happy man should have some one with a little hammer at his door to knock and remind him that there are unhappy people, and that, however happy he may be, life will sooner or later show its claws, and some misfortune will befall him — illness, poverty, loss, and then no one will see or hear him, just as he now neither sees nor hears others. But there is no man with a hammer, and the happy go on living, just a little fluttered with the petty cares of every day, like an aspen-tree in the wind — and everything is all right.’
from Gooseberries by Anton Chekhov

What is happiness? Someone said, I can think of nothing less pleasurable than a life devoted to the pursuit of pleasure. In any case it is not simple to find the ideal template or role model for life. It would seem that MKG/MLK were among the happier lot.

I can’t stand Reality shows n the fake emotions n tears!! Thank god fr Sitcoms!!

lol. just when you thought programming couldn’t fall below sitcoms, there were reality shows.

very well said.
links to that post of yours where you describe to the sale of struggle-stories in TV reality shows.

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