I was vacationing in India this summer. The sultry and scorching days did not leave any choice for me and my daughter but to slump in the couch and watch some cartoons. I switched on the TV and after some careful shuffling through buttons, we settled on one of them. It was a commercial break that took forever to end. Guzzling down that advert was not without efforts , there was a beauty soap advert, where there was a fuddled husband running behind his wife to know the secret of her lasting fresh looks. I wondered what was there to achieve through this commercial that was running on a channel dedicated for children.
The commercial break ended after conducting a litmus paper test on my patience.
It’s good to see a good bunch of home-grown cartoon characters coming up. It’s equally sorry to see the contents famished of positive messages. There seems to be no concerns for what an average mother must be going through when she overhears her kids laughing and rolling over something like, “Bidu tera fatela hatela advice nahi mangta”.
There are some new crop of characters and episodes running on different channels. One common pattern that runs through the tapestry one after another is that all protagonists are good at kicking, punching and resorting to physical violence to teach lessons to the devil ones. One popular cartoon series is about three ghosts who keep track of sins committed on earth and they come down from their ‘bhoot-lok’ to torture and punish. There is also a timid and coy cop in the story. Law or rules are at mercy of these supernatural trio. If you are going to tell me that it’s a harmless subtle entertainment, hold on, this is exactly my issue. Our definition of entertainment is so grim and gross! From an early age we are allowing those impressionable minds to get conditioned to normalcy of laughing at somebody’s misery, pulped beaten faces, deformities and abnormalities.
How are we defining entertainment for school going children? What kind of apathy and aggression are we slowly injecting in them through the colourful hunky-dory characters?
The Indian cartoon factory is yet to spin out a character which can solve his problems with his good humour and positive attitude without having to beat the devil ones to pulp.
We should move towards more participatory and interactive format, where parents have more say in what kind of cartoons characters they want to be aired on TV. Definition of entertainment that is being formed and slowly gaining acceptance will have detrimental effects in the long run. There is another new series in which there are two he-cats who flirt around a neighbour she-cat. This she-cat has the tendency to tilt towards the stronger and better provider of her needs. It’s appalling!
As Indians we have the tendency to adjust to everything, make room for everything. Let this passivity not hamper the personality development of our kids. Their understanding of life should not be marred by the junk they take through TV every day. Let’s take the control button in our hands and let our voices be heard.