Monday, June 20, 2011

Rude seems to be the new cool

And no, you don’t need to have any special powers to be able to see that. Watch any of the new, popular, “youth” type movies, look at any of the new ads, or watch any episode of the dozens of “Reality Shows” that are airing on any and every channel. The first and most obvious thing that jumps out at me in any of these things is how rude, badly behaved and unethical everyone is.

For years I have been cursing and ranting about how progressively ruder the world seems to be getting. How people NEVER turn off their cell phones in a movie or a play; how they insist on being loud and obnoxious in public places like movie theatres, malls and restaurants; how they push and shove and run people down on the sidewalk, in supermarkets, and everywhere else; how they never offer seats to ill, pregnant, or older people anymore; how they yell and curse and are rude to people regardless of age etc; and so much more. Now, it’s gotten to a point where I’ve practically stopped going out, and completely given up watching TV because of how angry these things make me.

Getting out of the house, going anywhere and doing anything has become so much of an irritation generator, that I would rather spend time at home, with my friends, books, music, or a good movie, rather than go OUT for something. Luckily urban living also means not having to step out for necessities or luxuries. Most things come to your doorstep at the end of a simple phone call.

As for TV, where do I start? When each ad seems to be about lying to, cheating, or manipulating your girlfriend or boyfriend; about sleeping around and stringing people along; about snatching, and greed, and shortcuts, and cutting corners, I am hard pressed to figure out what to let my five year old watch. What are the values she will imbibe from these images? No matter what I try to teach her at home, I cannot deny that a huge amount of influence is exerted by these images and subliminal messages she imbibes and absorbs from that fascinating screen.

And its not just ads! A majority of the cartoons that are on air these days are horrendously rude and abusive! And these are programs for kids! The worst culprits seem to be the Asian ones, especially the Japanese and Korean cartoon series, which seem to be populated almost entirely by shrewish mothers who are perpetually screaming at and beating their kids, bullies who are forever tormenting and beating up other kids, and a weak, spineless, and totally unethical protagonist. Moreover, most of the six and seven year olds in these series seem obsessed with the opposite sex, dating, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc.  what this says about the structure and values of the societies that produced these cartoons, I shudder to think. What does concern me, though, is what kind of things my daughter is picking up from them. In spite of rigorous screening and control of what and how much she watches, I find my monkey behaving in ways that apes the behaviour of those characters. I have to keep reminding her not to be rude to friends and family, especially those older than her.

Reality shows are another whole layer of rudeness and abuse. Normally I wouldn’t watch any of them if you paid me a million bucks. Recently however, teenage cousins were staying over, and seemed to be addicted to these programs. With them watching these series practically all day, I ended up having to see quite a bit, whether I wished to or not. The common denominator, as far as I could see, was the fact that all the people on screen were perpetually screaming at, abusing, cursing, and generally being unbearably rude and uncouth to everyone else. Whether it is you current or ex boyfriend or girlfriend, just other contestants, or the world in general, the only desired action or response seems to be cheating, unethical behaviour, and highly uncivilized language.

Orchestrated and scripted as these programs obviously are, they seem designed and made only for the purposes of seeing how rude and uncouth it is possible to be on TV. And the growing tweens and teens, the biggest audience demographics for these shows, are lapping it all up! The ruder, louder, and more abusive the program, the higher its ratings. No wonder then, that this entire generation thinks its cool to be disrespectful, and rude. Parents these days don’t seem to wish to exercise any control over what the kids watch, and they don’t seem to have been able to inculcate good taste so that the kids would voluntarily refuse to watch such shows. Funnily enough, there also seems to be no censor control over Indian television. Much as I hate the idea of censorship, I find it ridiculous that sex on TV and in movies is such a problem in India, but this kind of pure excrement is allowed to air day after day, and month after month.

There is zero meaningful content in any of these ads, cartoons, and shows, and the whole point of the exercise of even making them seems to be to demonstrate how “KOOL” and “HIP” and “WONDERFULLY rude” they can be.