If the world’s media were to suddenly decide to axe all reality TV shows, would the public still demand it?
If so, how strongly? If not, what does this suggest?
This may be mere academic hyperbole, as not all reality TV shows are dumbed down and indeed most countries which have a strong media dynamism, broadcast reality TV shows anyway.
India is no exception to this phenomenon, obviously.
In fact, its media head honchos have gone on to experiment with established reality shows aired in the West.
For instance, what we know as Big Brother in Britain, is called Big Boss in India and the disciplinary standards set in the Indian show have been notched up big time, conforming with the cultural norms that are upheld in and by Indian society.
Otherwise, the Indian audiences would simply not watch it!
Interestingly though, the contestants (mostly starlets with newly-acquired or semi celeb statuses) are only seen to take part in Big Boss. You won’t see the likes of Shilpa Shetty and Co on it.
While in Britain, The X Factor, which is infamous for it’s tabloid-style and oh-so-cringe-worthy standards of talent, attracts front-page headlines everyday as the show throughout the duration of it being aired on the British television.
This programme is going to hit Indian airwaves in May end, but judging by the promos, the contestants do have some talent and the judges are leading singers and connoisseurs of Indian highbrow culture.
What I’ve also noticed in the recent spate of reality TV shows, across the Indian cable TV network, is that successful, talented contestants are respected and even overly-goaded to do better, with the bars of challenges raised higher and higher. Those who are not successful are only shunned out if their behaviour is abominable, or heaven forbid, ungracious!
Otherwise, the rejects are bid farewell with hearty goodwill displayed and these scenes are dutifully replayed a few times (with sepia effect and supposedly tear-inducing background music cued in) before the show gradually crawls on.
I think Indian reality TV shows are regarded as a cultural outlet, while their British counterparts are mere forms of trash telly, produced keeping commercial viability exclusively in mind. They are strategising and showing whatever it takes for the viewers to shed their cash by texting or calling in their votes.
I’ve honestly never watched The X Factor in the UK, but I am going to give the Indian version a go. Why? Well, because if nothing else, popular mass media should be able to inspire audiences to aspire to do something better, right?