Friday, November 11, 2011

4 The "Cute and Innocent" reality

Reality shows have become a part of life with the entertainment industry banking on them completely for revenues. Any time of the day you can find people dancing, singing, cooking, debating - some with sense, some senseless - but definitely TRPs are soaring high.

Some participants have managed to become stars. Others have made their careers. They are a good avenues for talent search but not the only one. Stars and careers - shouldn't these words be associated with adult or max the teen phase - why childhood? Shows that involve children are nice to watch - lets say "Cute" (the most often word in these shows). But do these shows let the children participating and those watching it remain cute and innocent?

What do children gain and what do they lose? We can talk about a lot of positives - Children open up, gain confidence, become popular, start earning money. All of these qualities are admirable but are reality shows the only path. They are also learning that competing is good, very good. They need to be a winner no matter what. Winner here is only when you get the title. At that age, you cannot expect the child to be level-headed when parents themselves are out of tune. In the name of support, this is what happens.
Yesterday they showed a girl who was not selected and she ran out apparently upset with herself. Her entire family was there to support (really?) her outside. A minute passed and the camera zooms in on this family - her mom is screaming at her - "What is this aeeee.. aeee singing? I told you dont do it that way.. Look at what has happened" and the child clings to her dad even tighter. The level of maturity in the child seemed to be greater than the mother. Of course, the mother would have put a lot of effort into training and supporting her but is this the way to treat her when she herself is feeling let down?

How does the rejection play in the child's mind? Are we bothered?
 And who gave the network permission to amplify the emotions of a mother and child? Why should they play on this emotional spectacle? The manipulation and use of emotions - Is it any better than a saas-bahu story.

My cousin, who is all of 11 years old, already has it drilled down his brain that he must enter IIT. He is not allowed extra-curricular activities that are un-related. But he loves to attend CV Raman science institute classes twice a week. His parents are extremely proud becuase in these classes he gets to learn 9th class problems while he is in 5th. I dont understand what he will learn when he is in 9th - maybe some IIT course. Yes - parents are doing this because they want a good life for their child and want the best for him. Is joining IIT the best for him? According to society - a resounding YES. Why not a marine biologist or a doctor or an artist?

Ultimately, the shows and the child's career are a refection of what the parents want rather than what the child wants.

Would you force your child to participate in such shows?
Would you allow your child to do it because he wants to? How will you handle if the child is really dejected because of this - it requires an understanding between the child and parents. The child needs clear signals that his winning or not winning does not make a difference to you.

Parents of children who were not selected should pose in front of the camera and say "I am proud of her". Pride does not have anything to do with winning. Children do not owe it the parents to make them proud.


  1. Hi Sam...
    I make it a point to watch these shows which have children singing and dancing and what not just to know the general attitude of the parents. And I learn. On how to avoid being a bad parent! :(

  2. @pangsofsenselessness

    Absolutely. 'Lessons on bad parenting' maybe thats how these shows should be named. Maybe be they are helping a minority of parents:)

  3. Children do not owe to the parents to make them proud.

  4. @Ashwathy
    Even today many parents portray this kind of emotional bonds and make the child feel indebted to make them proud. If only they could have done things themselves.


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