Thursday, July 2, 2009


Children are being commoditised through reality shows

“If you have liked my performance then please, please pick up your cell phone and vote for me by typing my name and sending it to 12345. Please vote for me”, - this desperate vote appeal is actually made by innocent kid contestants, who have become ubiquitous to the general entertainment space across television channels. Children across various reality and talent-hunt shows can be seen clamouring for votes every now and then.

Though entertainment never holds any boundaries, off late what has been observed as a harmful trend is the manner in which children are being commoditised through entertainment packages. Today most of the popular reality shows either have child actors or rather have dedicated ‘child’ version of the show. One can find a beeline of programs which invite children to participate in myriad singing, dancing and comedy shows. No doubt these programs act as a platform to attract new talents and allow children to showcase their skills, but then it is very rare that any of these child contestants make it big in life. Most of the time they are lost in oblivion soon after the show ends. Most of the time these shows ruthlessly translate innocent emotions into TRPs, by adding special effects, or rope them in to host some programs or as guests. And worse is the fact that this sudden splurge of attention, glitz and glamour coupled with an overdose of commercialisation at such a tender age, have a severe bearing on the natural growth process of these kids. On top of it if there is lack of proper parenting, then it is a sure shot disaster in the making.

Honestly, if these TV channels are so very interested in hunting talent and providing them a platform, they should have provision of mentoring the talented kids towards better coaching and bigger platforms, instead of promising heft y and glamorous cash prizes. Take for instance, Anamika, the winner of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Little Champs-II - She received a cash prize of Rs.20 lakhs from Kidzee, ‘Hyundai i10’ car plus a laptop from HDFC insurance. First and second runner-up received a cash prize of Rs.15 lakhs and Rs.10 lakhs respectively – which is way above the annual incomes of most of the middle class families in India. And that's all the more reason for parents, who are found pressurizing their children towards these shows, to a large extent. At times such is the extent of parent’s expectation that recently, a father of a contestant suffered a heart attack after hearing that his daughter has been eliminated.

What we need is strong regulation in the lines of OfCom in the UK (that regulates TV shows) and laws on roping in children for TV shows. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had recommended that children below 16 years of age be barred from participating in reality TV shows. But it hasn't been implemented yet. We don’t need to stop the shows but what should be necessarily done is to put some kind of cap on cash prizes and alternatively replace it with various schemes which hones their respective skill sets, provide larger platforms and create an enabling environment which does not dwarf the natural growth of the child. All this would create a huge reservoir of talent pool who can represent India at a global level in the future. Till this happens, please remember, that every time you are voting for your favourite kid, you are destroying the childlike aspiration for ten others!!


No comments:

Post a Comment