Jungle Book versus Reality Shows

show The cartoon story of Mowgli and his animal friends that we watched with much enthusiasm during the 90s on Doordarshan, written by Rudyard Kipling, was given a U/A certification in India, following in the lines of the PG certification in the US. Reason there are 3D images of animals pouncing upon you that can be scary for kids. Justified, we would say.
However, how much of television content and that includes the many cartoon shows with violent and at times mildly explicit content from across the world being telecast in the US and India follow these regulations. The action oriented animation series and the regular cartoon shows do have much content that is not suitable for very young children, whose education, today, starts with television. Taking it a step forward are the reality shows that are becoming more unrealistic than ever. The shows are crossing every limit of logic and common sense by involving kids and youngsters in an atmosphere of undue competition and throwing them into a virtual world of fame and limelight. And, during the crucial formative years, they are turning into nervous wrecks, and quite ironically progressively growing away from the real world.
If such is the fate of the participants’; viewers that consist of young audience in majority are increasingly getting influenced by these shows. They are not only living in this make believe world, but quite a few of them inorder to be a part of the tamasha are resorting to dangerous means. The death of the Hyderabadi boy, who burnt himself trying to emulate a stunt in order to apply for “India’s Got Talent’, is just the tip of the iceberg.
Each one of such reality shows has a disclaimer at the end urging people not to try the dangerous stunts without guidance, but the young impressionable minds are at an age when nothing seems impossible to them. The hype and hungama around the shows lure these innocent kids into trying the worst, despite the warning – which is similar and as useless as a caution against smoking on a pack of cigarettes.
While justifying Jungle Book film’s certification Sensor chief Pahlaj Nihalani said, “”See the film and then decide on the suitability of the content for kids. The 3D effects are so scary that the animals seem to jump right at the audience. It’s not just the story that determines certification. It’s the overall presentation, the packaging and most important of all, the visual affects used to tell the story. In Jungle Book the jungle animal jumping at the audience in 3D is startling. It’s up to parents to decide how much of these effects are suited for their children.”
But of course, in television, despite the broad rating system that’s followed, there is no holistic approach to the greater evil and impact these shows may have on young minds.
In fact at the time of his taking over the censor board, Pahlaj Nihalani himself accepted, “There are double standards in judging films and TV serials, which should be corrected.” He was referring to television shows showing nudity and was obviously not referring to a graver problem. Most of the entertainment television content aired at primetime is unsuitable for kids.
An Australian study revealed that children are increasingly associating happiness to wealth and popularity. And it is not uncommon for kids to emulate dangerous feats after watching reality shows based on stunts like ‘FearFactor, ‘India’s Got Talent’ etc.
One way to ensure kids are safe from such influences is to limit the exposure to such shows and this should start from a very young age. As the kid gets addicted to watching such shows, it only becomes more difficult.
Such reality shows are usually aired at 11 in the night to ensure children do not watch it. This has to be strictly adhered to and one must ensure the reruns are not telecast at other times. However, if one would argue about the relevance of these shows that enjoy enormous TRPs, one can say there are none, yet it doesn’t seem possible that the television houses would consider completely restricting the telecast of these shows.


Medaram Jathara

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