Thursday, July 05, 2007

Because there are audiences -- and they are entertained

It’s always fascinating when I read something written about another country and another culture and discover parallels to what is happening in India. Here’s a great instance.
Till last night, Jamie Lee Curtis, to me, was a successful actor – no more than that. After stumbling upon a blog post by her, she’s much more than an actor – she’s a deep thinker and a brilliant writer and commentator.
And there’s so much in her post that could be transported out of the America that she writes about to the India that I live in that you know that globalisation rules; trends in media, especially television, are the same everywhere.
Curtis is baffled by the success of, and audience fixation with, reality-elimination shows – as I am. The truth, however, is that there are millions of viewers everywhere who feed this monster and the format is here to stay.

Snippets from her post:
“There I was trying to celebrate with my friend when my eye kept being pulled to the set on the wall. There were some chefs on the screen, all standing with their hands clasped behind their backs, at attention, as a panel of people (who are they?) told them mostly bad things about, I assume, their food. I knew they weren't nice supportive comments as the camera was close on the chefs' faces and they looked scared and sad. They were then marched in and out as a group until one woman was asked to leave. She was crying, packing up her knives. It made me so sad and sick to watch. Why was I drawn to this? I didn't want her to lose...did I? Do I? I don't even know her. Why would I wish her harm?
I understand there are many of these shows now. All "elimination"-based and faux reality. Real like a firing squad. I understand there is a good side, a jubilant winner getting their shot at fame and fortunes, but the bulk of the watching, I gather, is some communal elimination where the audience gets a hand in the stone-throwing. It begs the question of why we feel the need to watch this. Are we all so unhappy in our own lives we need the fix of watching another human go into the gladiator ring and come out a bloody, eviscerated mess? What does Russell Crowe scream in Gladiator -- "Are you not entertained"?
I am not entertained….”

The full post, here. Go there, get entertained.


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