Someone recently wanted to see a certain cricket match on the television, so they wrote a letter to one of the newspapers.
This person, I’m sure, is a lover of cricket, and probably cannot get enough of it and would like to feed their hunger for the game by viewing the Ashes Series of matches.
But how much of one thing is enough? Cricket, being our national game, so loved by many, enough may never be enough. But isn’t there too much garbage, if I may use that term, on television today? And the Guyanese population can’t get enough of these shows. There is a popular saying about you are what you eat. Could you be what you’re interested about on TV or watch too?
With all the strides being made to disseminate knowledge and vital skills in the midst of growing poverty in Guyana, there still exist in many parts, much ignorance and unawareness, even a negligent attitude towards the national front – burning issues (some issues of which affect these portions of the population yet they do not care) and intently or un-intently refuse to be players towards the betterment of the society.
Sad, to say, there exist these areas in much of Guyana; in the very far corners of our land, in small villages and squatting settlements, mostly where immense poverty and hardships exist, where social amenities and basic services are virtually non-existent. In these areas are the hindrances to the national and intellectual development of any nation. It was in this backdrop that Indian movies gained popularity in India decades ago.
In India 42% of the population live just under US$1.25, the population turned to Indian movies for entertainment. It kept them satisfied and contented — the films they viewed, they were mesmerized and lost in trances with their eyes fixated on their favourite stars.
They saw themselves in the heroes and heroines in the movies. The movies served as channels through which these people could’ve forgotten their lives of poverty (even if it was just for a few hours) and realities were sent aback of their heads. It was in this way that Bollywood became a powerhouse and driving force within the movie spectrum of the world. The Indians looked forward to these films and would gather in large masses and groups to view them. When the films ended, they would return to their shabby, dreary lives. Reality would once again step in and the glitz and glamour of the big screen would only be a pleasant memory. And so life continued in India, and up to today, India, like many other Middle- Eastern countries continue to suffer immense poverty and scarcity of resources.
Bollywood has stepped across to our country of Guyana and has made a home here as well, startling many Guyanese men and women, boys and girls. Nollywood, where the African films are being made (some 200 titles are released every month), also has seeped its way into our markets and homes. Currently, Nigeria has a $250 million film industry.
But are these films (both Indian and African) wholesome to watch? Time is of the essence these days hence I cannot understand how someone could sit down for three and more hours to view an Indian film. My point, does not centre on me being biased in any way towards he Bollywood or even Nollywood Film industries, however, at this time, when so much is being said about the Millennium Development Goals, we as a people have much unfinished work to do.
People need to get serious about their lives and play vital roles in the development of their nation. And I cannot see the continual showing of these films (virtually numerous times a day on the various channels in Guyana) would enrich and educate this population in this 21ST Century. But families can still be free to rent these movies at movie shops nationwide. That would be another issue.
The television is a very powerful tool and if everyday there are sexually-explicit movies and shows airing, even during the day, then we are doing more harm than good to this generation and the next.
There are so much healthy TV shows out there which can bring the same amount of enjoyment to our hearts, while feeding our brains and minds. Stimulating educational game-shows such as ‘Jeopardy!’ and ‘Wheel of Fortune’, even ‘Who wants to be a Millionnaire’ among many, many others should become a part of our daily viewing habits.
Similarly, there are healthy, wholesome movies with excellent morals and messages for our young people today, without the nudity, sexual material and lewd language. Today’s young people are not interested in Hallmark Channel Movies, National Geographic, Science Channel, or even some Lifetime Channel movies, but seek after the bloodiest, goriest and most violent films where guns and knives are used, where sexual acts are found in every scene among other unhealthy elements of these so-called literary works.
Why can people sit for hours and watch Bollywood and Nollywood movies, cricket matches, etc but not a half hour game show or a two- hour movie about rape, abuse, and other life stories and situations, some of which have been inspired out of real-life situations?
This is why too that reading has become virtually non- existent in our society today. The other day I visited the New Amsterdam Library and except for about two persons or so reading in the library, it was empty, yes empty!
Many of these Bollywood films air up to very late in the evenings, thus, encouraging people to retire later to bed and getting less rest. School children arrive later to school the next day. Sometimes, people even stay away from certain wholesome activities in their lives to watch these films on TV. Bollywood movies provide little or no moral values; clouded realities; they distort and contort the true Indian culture; today’s films provide too much fighting and violence and sexual scenes; not to mention their plots lack creativity and meat so to speak. And they’re all about virtually the same thing with predictable endings.
I know it may be the easiest programme for many of our TV stations today to ‘put their hands on’ to show (Indian and of late African films), but maybe our people need to be exposed to other varieties as well, maybe people need to learn to appreciate other ‘proper’ genres of movies.
The satellite has brought its good and bad today. But still, TV stations have a wider pick. The older folks (and some young) do love old Indian films, and those were good, I am told, with dramatic issues facing people. Some may argue, too, that the soap operas we see during the day on the TV present real- life situations too. Yes, I agree. But even the soap operas of today are being led in the direction of selling sex and immense adultery situations. Cancer, AIDS, Multiple Personality Disorders, and other health illnesses were used in the plots of numerous soap operas back in the 1980’s. Not so much today because these things do not sell, but sex does — all over.
We must always strive towards becoming more and more educated, not only academically, but professionally and intellectually. You are what you watch. Let us build Guyana through building constructive minds. This would auger well in the sphere of development we so much seek after.
Leon Jameson Suseran
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