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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

02 November, 2004

A Rebuttal

The reason the post about “Indian Idol” irks so, has nothing to do with my being American. As far as the show itself is concerned, it is, in all likelihood, canned rubbish just the way “American Idol” is. The American audience loves to watch it, therefore the advertisers love to support it, the television network loves the revenue it brings and this supports the show in perpetuity, until the next big idea in TV viewing.

The show airs at a set time every night. But do I have to turn my TV on at that time to watch it? No, I don’t. As a responsible parent who doesn’t approve of the values that this show is propagating, can I stop my kid from watching it? Damn right I can! I am the adult in the household. Granted I don’t have an out of control teenager in my household, yet, but the steps I take now by diverting my child’s attention to other areas of interest like sports, reading and other healthier extra-curricular activities will pay dividends later.
Our lives are about choices and consequences. We are not inanimate objects waiting for someone to inflict their ideas and opinions on us. There are no agents of influence if we choose not to be influenced. Why let impressionable young minds be influenced by TV, why not take control and influence them or make an impression on their impressionable minds ourselves?

Do we ever ask ourselves what we did to help bring about the erosion of values that is our constant refrain? The comment about “aping the bad qualities of Americans” is so terribly misplaced and smacks of such clichéd “ugly American” generalizations! It is a country of 250 million people and, like any country, there are all sorts of people here. American “bad qualities”, I have found, are no different from your standard human bad qualities. There is only a finite gamut of bad qualities that any person in any given country can run. Americans do not have special ones.

Finally, another disconcerting comment in this post was about television being an unchecked and uncritiqued medium. Do we really want the appointment of an external authority or governmental agency reviewing and censoring free speech and expression? This is the kind of precedent setting that starts out small and balloons into a full-fledged
book-burning, fatwa-issuing kind of thing, until you have lost all claims to being a democracy. People have a right to express themselves in a democracy and whether or not they find an audience is a function of how responsible their target audience is in exercising the rights and privileges that a functioning democracy affords them. If something is on TV it’s because there is a universal demand for it. TV shows only work if ratings and, therefore, advertisers, support them. If it offends us, we shouldn’t watch it, that’s the easiest way to make it go away. Why lament eroded values and standards? Why feel victimized and out of control. One always has control.


Blogger jivay said...

Yeah Pragya, I couldn't agree with you more...

And This comment is for John.
Sorry this is not personal, I kknow I just can't seem to get off your back, but I would like to understand something.

Among the the stuff you wrote yesterday you mentioned television being an unchecked medium.

Now tell me 'Sony', the carrier for Indian Idol, I thought is a cable channel for which one pays some amount of money every month???

03 November, 2004 10:07  
Blogger John said...

Paid or not my cablewallah delivers it to me! I won't block sony because it shows "Indian Idol" as I would be missing the other programs.

I rarely watch TV these days. But the only program I watched that day made me grimace. But, I agree it is reality television and is watched and enjoyed by the masses who give it rating points and advertisers just love it so they give them ads and sponsorship.

What does that say about public taste? Something about reality television hasn't been discussed. Why? We don't have time to discuss it. If we don't then the next reality television will be about people killing each other for the amusement of people watching. That's what I meant about crossing the limits.

I wouldn't have liked my son to be rejected like that in any contest. I watched it that day because my son said it is good entertainment. But I didn't like it one bit.

As for blocking the channel, it comes as a package and I cannot block that individual channel. As for making a choice about what to view I am not at home all the time to decide what to watch.

May be it is my private and distorted view that I put across somewhat humorously. I didn't realize it would kick up such a big controversy.

Sorry if it offended someone's partriotic sentiments. My views were harmless comments to initiate some discussion. That I made a comment about "American Idol" doesn't mean I am against America or American Culture or George Bush or the entire gamut of Americanism. My views were only against the program "American Idol" as represented by "Indian Idol."

I hope that clarifies. Or does it?

I seem to stirred a hornet's nest with a harmless piece of writing!

Wake up John, introspect some more.

03 November, 2004 12:56  
Blogger Pragya said...


No one doubts that yours was a harmless piece of writing. It was. That it sparked a response is a good thing as well, don't you think?

But, you have completely missed the point if you think you have offended some kind of patriotic feelings by simply mentioning the show "American Idol"! My response was about choices, consequences and free speech!

03 November, 2004 14:46  
Blogger John said...

Pragya, I accept your explanation. Now let us move on to better things than splitting hairs over a television serial. Look forward to reading more of your submissions.

03 November, 2004 18:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just recently I got acquainted to the Caferati and had been since wondering why everyone was so goody-goody to everyone else. There was so much of debate-provoking topics, so much of issues capable of generating a meaningful inter-active session and bloggers were not catching upon any of those. Thanks John and Pragya! It was an interesting and arousing session. I feel Pragya's intervention has a larger context though it was ignited by maybe a limited lament.'One always has control' are the words to be marked and have to be read in context only. What kind of 'control' do we have? Blocking the TV channels is the technological control which comes with the package and turning it off is another that one uses at will; but Pragya, you mean probably the control by offering 'quality options', that is 'more worthwhile' diversions from the option which we find or consider damaging or unhealthy or unhelpful in growth and development of personality. Yes, this is the real control.

09 November, 2004 20:02  
Blogger Pragya said...

I wish you were not anonymous!

Thanks for further slicing and dicing my "we always have control" comment!


12 November, 2004 05:09  

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