Media Accountability. Parents’ Responsibility
I’ve been hearing on and off from various sources of TV, news, other Blogs… about what factors in today’s society are responsible for the Delhi Gang Rape that occurred a few weeks ago, resulting in the death of a 23 year old girl. A heinious act which I hope will serve to change somethings.
However, in the midst of this, like in any tragedy, people have started the finger pointing. In the beginning it was justified, as the fingers pointed to the government for not enforcing stricter laws, the Indian police for not treating rape cases with more sensitivity, the courts systems for not expeditating cases involving crimes against woman and so on.
But now, the fingers have circled around to some pointless-ness as they start blaming Bollywood and the Indian Film Industry at large, for being responsible in portraying negatives about women, implying that this in turn leads to rape and other offences against women.
This topic is something I often rant about, and the above scene has now influenced me to discuss this topic at length. I’ll be breaking up my thoughts on this in 4 different parts.
I agree, that there are gratuitious and exploitative content in Bollywood that demeans and objectifies women. But, so is there in Hollywood. Such content is also present in the Fashion Industry and the Print Media. Any and all forms of Marketing will feature some form of sexual innuendo or imagery. Do we hold them all accountable?
The problem with blanket intolerance is that it can be manipulated to make anything and everything seem offensive. It becomes a slippery slope where everything must be closely examined and regardless of the actual content, will end up being deemed ‘inappropriate’ because ‘it’s better to be safe than sorry’.
Once we start blaming outside forces for the possible influence they may or may not have had on horrible acts committed by people, you can never know where to draw the line. If the viewing of sexually explicit images of women through Bollywood, corrupts the minds of men, then the same can be said of the Internet, as pornography is readily accessible there. But we don’t hear about an enraged mob with pitchforks protesting outside of Bill Gates house wanting a ban on the Internet do we? (I’m aware that Gates did not ‘create’ the Internet.)
I accept that gratuitious filmmaking IS irresponsible and exploitative. However, such content and mentality will always be present from the inception of Playboy to the subliminal sexual messages which are ever present in every marketing campaign. As long as content drives financial gains and profits for large entities, sex will sell. And it is futile to try to prevent, restrict of control the output of these machines.
However, it is our responsibility as morally conscientious members of society, and more importantly, as parents, to be able to pass down the sence of morality to our children. To be able to put into context these ever present content which our children will at one time or another in their lives be exposed to and become aware of.
It is the parents responsibility, in all walks of life, to teach their children values, ethics, morals and essentially how to be good and responsible members of society. If outside influences such as Television or Movies are able to completely unravel those values that should be taught as soon as a child can form cohesive thoughts, then that is more of a commentary on effective parenting techniques than it is on content in Movies.
I’ve always maintained that before we start holding accountable outside influence which we ourselves willingly expose our children to, we should look inwards. Society, businesses, and the world at large is out of our control. However, what we can ensure is that our children are imbued with qualities and attributes which make them morally good and conscientious members of society. Instill in them the values and traditions that out South Asian community is so famous for all across the world, and ensure that they have all the tools they require to better handle the explicitly graphic nature of the world.
Natasha Harmer · May 11, 2013 at 6:41 PM
great article! Agreed, there is a lot of objectification of women in the West, probably more of it in Hollywood than in Bollywood.
Rather than pointing fingers they should be dealing with said rapists, not trying to pawn off excuses on various influences; ie film.
Baudrillard talks a lot about this, and how society is slowly finding it more and more difficult to decipher the difference between reality and representation because of our reliance on hyperreality for entertainment..so violent video games, films ect taint our ability to know what’s real and what’s representation. I suppose that has something to do with it, certain people in society might end up thinking the things they see in films (like rape, objectification etc) are acceptable in reality. Personally I think there’s no excuse for horrible behaviour be it rape, murder or just general violence…anyone of sane mind should be able to tell the difference between what’s OK in a film and what’s acceptable to do in real life.
Shah Shahid · May 12, 2013 at 10:36 PM
Thanks for the comment Tash.
I completed agree. And again, the root of the issue comes back to parenting. With the evolution of the Television and movies, and child-centric channels and movies, parents have become entirely too reliant to let the TV raise their kids. Especially with misleading concepts such as ‘educational programming’, which serves the same purpose as spending an hour with the kid discussing life, nature, teaching them the alphabet, etc. But the latter builds social and communication skill along with a better bond between parent and child. THAT is where the difficulty in distinction comes into play, when we let our kids watch more TV than talk to them.
I’ll stop. I have to dedicate a whole 3 other Articles to this series. Gotta save the good stuff. 😉