A man wanted to buy a TV so he walked into a showroom and began scouting for one. The salesman seeing a potential ‘bakra” approached and directed his attention to the latest (spelt expensive) model, extolling its features and finally showed him the remote (which had so many buttons you could solve a maze in them). The man took one look at the remote and said, “I don’t need remote control. With four kids, my chances of controlling it are already remote.”
TV channel surfing is the most popular sport of the couch potato, rivaled only by computer games and Internet surfing. A TV, as a gadget, is a boon, a good servant, but once it gets married to Cable, it becomes a gruesome taskmaster. Cable TV has opened a Pandora’s box, with producers outdoing each other in scandalous profanity and melodramatic absurdity. Soap operas and detective serials instill fear in the hearts of hapless, hopeless housewives. A workaholic husband becomes a TVaholic once the cricket season is on. Children jump on worn-out sofas, imitating Ben 10 as parents gape shockingly at the ‘1 and 0’ on their report cards.
When we migrated from Amchi Mumbai to Aam Aadmi Goa, we made ourselves a promise - No Cable. I broke that vow once for 8 months and experienced WWIII. The boys wanted Pogo at breakfast, Cartoon TV for lunch, Hungama for tea and once hubby dear was home, we all got a deadly cocktail of CNN, BBC, and all the ‘NEWS’ for dinner. I would plan my shopping days to coincide with cricket season because my ‘4 idiots’ would be glued to the rectangular ‘ICU’ (Intense Cricket-lovers Unit) and this left me with plenty of “ME’ time. When my firstborn went to the 10th standard, I grabbed the excuse to disconnect their life supply. For a month, all of us faced withdrawal symptoms, including me.
What did I do with the idiot box is your next question, right? Well, it evolved from being a monitor for rented movies to being an educational and entertaining tool for us all. Whenever I would hear of a good movie (No sex, no violence, no bad words) or an educational CD, I would buy it outright or copy it thus creating my own child-friendly video library at home. I figure that if the kids want to see a movie 10 times in a row, it had better be a ‘clean’ one. My sons are in the habit of imitating movie characters; each takes on a character and learns their dialogues and mannerisms. I don’t want my budding child artistes to embarrass me in public.
U/A movies have too much of adult content that is largely uncensored. When asked to comment on film censorship, Helen, India’s celebrated film vamp, once said, “I have spent my whole career dancing between a pair of scissors.” My friend in Australia tells me that movies there are categorized into M (mature), PG (parental guidance) and U (universal). But again, this can be monitored only if a mature adult is present to give parental guidance to the child otherwise there is always the chance that the universal forbidden fruit will prove tastier.
I leave with a final salutation. Remember: Give cable TV an inch and it’ll be a ruler. Be the boss in your house, don’t house the boss.