“Jesus Christ XYZ, you have school tomorrow. Stop watching FRIENDS and go to sleep.” said(yelled) my father. Despite my most exhaustive defensive strategies, my father caught me watching an episode of my favourite sitcom at one o’clock in the morning. Which wasn’t a big deal except it broke the illusion I had managed to create that I promptly go to sleep at 10 every night. I didn’t mind shutting down the computer. I had my entire video library on my iPod, which I would continue to watch under the sheets for the next few hours. The next day my dad deleted everything from the computer. That stung a little.
Admittedly the premise of his argument wasn’t invalid. Watching movies and TV shows isn’t a particularly lucrative hobby. It’s passive entertainment. It deteriorates the eyes. Oh and the poster boy for anti-television reasons – MOST OF WHAT IS SHOWN TODAY IS RUBBISH. Whether it is to exploit the schadenfreude of the viewers or to garner their empathy, the science of television production and broadcasting has seemingly boiled down to creating loud, toxic drama. This takes various forms ranging from the manifestation of ancient ideas leading to family feuds and murdering the female foetus like in Balika Vadhu, to essentially harmless but absolutely brain-dead and delusional depictions like Taarak Mehta. Even the news channels today show either only murders, rapes and scandals or presumably false and absolutely irrelevant success stories of whichever political party has paid them off. And don’t even get me started on reality television. From Roadies to The Bachelor, it’s a constant onslaught of uneducated, unimpressive people eager to try their luck at riding the TRP wave to super stardom. The thriving entertainment business today might be the biggest sales job where garbage is sold to garbage-men, often without the pretty packaging.
And I love it. I absolutely love it.
Now that I’ve showcased my frustration for the slimy, sticky, corrosive part of this industry, allow me to explain why it has had me hooked for as long as I can remember. Why I choose to ignore the thorns and smell the rose. Why I believe that the true value of TV shows and movies is more intangible than we are ready to understand.
Since the total number of movies, TV shows, talk shows, game shows, reality shows, documentaries etc. annually produced around the world is beyond staggering, there’s more than enough of these that are in fact well thought out and beautifully executed. These are the ones where the proprietors wake up every morning with the goal of creating media that is just as much a creative outlet as it is a genuine public service. These are not made with the end goal of making a vast amount of money, but of striking a chord in the heart of the audience and being memorable long after being forgotten. (No, the paradox isn’t lost on me). Funnily enough, these are the productions that end up making the most money.
Since there are no more bushes left to beat around, here are a few reasons(off the top of my head) as to why a little bit of TV might do you some good.
- Makes you laugh
The average child is said to laugh about 300 times a day. The average adult, less than 10. That is just plain sad. And if you’d google the astronomically impressive benefits of laughter, it’s borderline unhealthy. Well-made sitcoms make you laugh. They bring that glow to your face that can only come from happiness and are an instant mood lifter after a bad day at work. And I mention laughing because personally I have a slight preference for the genre of comedy. But similar responses can be triggered by programmes of nearly any genre. A good drama will give you goosebumps. A good mystery/thriller will get the wheels in your head going. Even a good tragedy makes you think or tear up a little. Essentially, well crafted television can unclog your emotional pipelines, and that will serve you well in all other aspects of life.
- Exposes you to the genius of the creators
Some of the smartest, most intellectually acute and creatively superior people on the planet have given their lives to the entertainment business. These are people who have a unique lens of viewing society at a global level, and at the same time an erratic imagination that will leave you breathless. And when dozens of these geniuses pool their time and energy into creating and polishing something, being able to watch it is not only a pleasure, but a privilege.
- Showcases different cultures, businesses etc.
Not one of the most obvious benefits of television and movies, I agree. It’s there, nonetheless. A lot of research goes into the creation of the context, and it is ultimately packaged beautifully in a way that can quite often provide insight and knowledge. Whether it’s the culture of a far off country or the intricacies of a particular business, stories emerging from these carry with them the basic understanding of their ins and outs.
- Gives you a certain flair for the language
Once again, a more passive perk. I am absolutely convinced that the grip I have on my languages is in no minor way due to the countless hours I have spent indulging in numerous productions. (If you don’t know just how much, have a look.)
- It’s good entertainment
Oh, and I’ve actually made money watching sitcoms.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting centering your life around the screen, nor am I arguing that movies are a reservoir of knowledge. I’m a devoted reader of books and I agree reading is a far superior mechanism for enlightenment as well as entertainment, but books already have a good reputation, so that’s not what I’m here to argue. AlI I’m saying is that little portion of your life you do spend in front of the screen can not only be relaxing, but also rewarding.
Now if you’ll excuse me, House Of Cards just finished downloading.