Television: our puppeteer

By Sonia Khudanpur

With the ever-increasing number of channels on our television and with each channel having something unique to offer, this medium influences our minds most effectively.

Today, there are over 500 channels in India and several more yet to be launched. The sheer number proves the impact that television can have on an individual’s way of thinking.

We watch all sorts of programs on TV- comedy shows, family drama, food and lifestyle programs, music and dance programs etc. Each of these programs has a certain agenda, a purpose that it tries to push through to its audience. For example, the serial Laado on Colors channel, tells the audience that in cities like Haryana the girl child is seen as a curse and the boy child is the ‘chiraag’ of the house. This message is brought out through the story.

Serials use families to show values and traditions that must be upheld by society. The representation of families, characteristics of every family member, the customs and ritual they follow, the decisions they make affect the mindset of the viewer. If the viewer identifies with a certain character on the show, he/she will pay close attention to how the character deals with or handles situations and problems that come in its way. So, television gives the viewer solutions to problems and also tells the viewer how he/she should behave or react.

Television serials also manage to create aspirations in viewers through its exaggerated portrayal of life. Most families in serials live in extra-large houses that resemble palaces and are clearly unreal, but viewers accept this. The producers of such serials believe that viewers dislike seeing a house and family that is just like theirs and prefer the unrealistic bit. Familiarity is considered to be boring and thus most serials display their characters and their lives as being larger than life.

People now tend to spend more time with their TV sets than their families. This growing bond between a person and the television can affect or change the mindset of the person more easily than any other medium of communication.

As there are about 110 million households in India that have access to television, it is not hard to believe that television does influence our beliefs, values and our attitude and is thus in a way our puppeteer.

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