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Attack of the Idiot Box July 2, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, Culture, Entertainment, india, Mass Media, Media, Personal, Television, Writing.
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Shinjini is in hospital. A participant on a regional reality dance competition, she lost movement and talk after an episode in which her performance was criticized by the 3 member judges panel.


Presently she is in a Bangalore hospital recuperating and spoke her first lines in some days. As expected there has been a furor. Did the judges overstep their jurisdiction? Was their criticism justified? Did they in fact critique or did they ridicule the hapless participant to such an extent that they, albeit unwillingly, injured her – emotionally and psychologically?


Noises are being made to draft guidelines for judges, which is welcome. Many a time, producers and directors of such shows cross the line and succumb to the tactic of ridicule and humiliation – the very basis of some reality shows. It is the participant’s unscripted helplessness, humiliation, humbling and eventual triumph that draws audiences to the format.


Schadenfreude – a German word meaning ‘enjoyment taken from the misfortune of someone else’ is the guiding principal. It is common knowledge that ‘reality’ in television reality shows s ‘constructed reality’, mediated by concerns of rising or falling ‘Television Rating Points’ or TRP’s. There have been cases of sexual assault on some reality shows that have been aired just to boost its popularity. Many even suspect whether the said assaults were in fact pre-meditated by the show’s director’s.


India is an evolving market and reality television is here to stay. The epochal 15 minutes of fame will seduce us to sell our soul – the price is, as always, negotiable. There are a few things to be kept in mind –by the contestants, conceivers and last but not the least – the audience.




In the beginning it is you who wants the show. The show doesn’t want you. There are thousands like you who are dying for the opportunity to be on national television. So if you get it, grab it.


If indeed you make it to the show remember that it’s a golden opportunity. Be smart, use all the prior experience of watching reality shows and create a persona that is right for the contest. You will feel schizophrenic – but that’s the general direction in which the entire world is moving. Live with it.


You will be judged, criticized – basically ripped apart. Are you ready for that? Remember that even if you were promised otherwise – you are not the one who is in any position to change the way in which the show is conducted. You have only 1 option – to leave the show – will you? Most probably not.


You have the possibility of becoming a brand. Harp on your dominant trait – even if it is offensive. It will get you noticed. But be smart to realize when it stops paying dividends. Everybody acts a bit on reality television and so must you – a bit that is.


If you in fact indeed have the talent then losing on national television can in some cases be better. You get sympathy and people recognize many a final round loser. So, it is not the end of the world. In fact, it is the beginning of a brand new career. Enjoy.


The Conceptualists


Know when to stretch the envelope in style and content.


Exploitation and humiliation don’t work all the time. Audience and tastes evolve faster than we think they do. Most Indian reality content being adaptations of foreign formats, there is a time lag and voila things have changed. So should content.


Talent, skill, popularity, drama, controversy – what are your show driver’s and do they work in the local market?


Please – something original.


The Audience


Take everything with a pinch of salt…and other assorted spices.



















1. myexpression - July 2, 2008

thank god i do only fictional formats… may be its a less sin…

2. astralwicks - July 2, 2008

maybe. maybe is a big if. do you want to exploit audiences by something insidious and hiddden or entice them by something obvious, direct and visible. i think both the genre’s are strong in theri own ways – depends how we screw it up 🙂

3. gudus - July 2, 2008

Teething trouble this, reality television is here to stay and it can only grow, bigger, ‘better’. Parents will learn, will counsel their wards, future participants, will get smarter, stronger, and as in the case of natural selection and the theory of evolution, the weak will perish, forever. Shinjini is just the first casualty, there will be many more, and who knows the ‘reality’ might even extend beyond the show, you actually think this girl is not faking it?

4. myexpression - July 2, 2008


yeah the doubt is always there but still …

@ astral
how we screw it up 🙂 lol

5. astralwicks - July 2, 2008

faking it…possibly…who knows? i will give her the benefit of doubt. and as i said sometimes losing a competition could be the best thing to happen to you.

6. gudus - July 2, 2008

I don’t think anyone should blame the judges or the production company/channel for what has happened to Shinjini. I don’t think there should be any guidelines either for anyone, in a reality show. The concept should rule and decide the limits, the viewers will decide its existence. A monster has been created and we must let it grow, to control it will be injustice, for whatever happens, however great or terrible, we deserve it. Go on thou content creators, concept writers, go mad, crazy and give us a hell of a ride

7. astralwicks - July 2, 2008

power to you gudu messiah of the free… 🙂

8. beylee - July 3, 2008

we need reality check tv..

9. astralwicks - July 3, 2008

hee haa haw hee 🙂

10. Ruchira - July 22, 2008

I will just say one thing. What you say about Reality Shows is all very good- but the fact is, the doctors have been repeatedly saying that Shinjini’s case was viral fever- it was a pathological and not a psychological illness and she was ill before she went to the show. Just like the media likes to hype on Reality Shows and their winners, right now they are repeatedly harping on how the judges nearly killed Shinjini, even though it is not the case. The only thing I don’t like about Reality shows is the sms voting business, but they are better than saas bahoo stuff any day.
If the judges and organizers are responsible, so are the participants and their family. I wish Shinjini gets well soon, but if she tried another method of finding fame as a dancer than a reality show, she would still have to face insults, rejections and refusals. This is how life works for all of us and we need to be prepared. Agreed that some of the judges are way out of their limits, but my point is, why this hype on Shinjini when in fact the judges were not responsible for her illness? The media celebrates Reality shows when the celebration sells well, and damns it t the public when the criticism sells. Whatever happened to responsible journalism?

11. astralwicks - July 22, 2008

Hi Ruchira appreciate the comments. In today’s television scenario grey is the pre-dominant color. Whom do you blame? From the misbehaviour of judges to contestants hitting (Roadies 5) to Chetan Hansraj slapping a contestant on the new 9 x show. Nobody knows to what extent we will fall.

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