Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Morning Shows Tamasha


Everything on television, aired during a particular time period, is a reflection of the society at that point. Whether it is advertising, dramas or morning shows.

The latter have, over the past few years, invaded our television screens in a manner similar to the aliens, who invaded Earth in H.G.Wells sci-fi masterpiece, War of the Worlds. But I’m afraid we can’t be rid of them in the manner the human race was rid of the aliens. The only thing you can do is not watch television. Which, practically speaking, is impossible – or is it?

How, you may ask, is a three hour program reflective of us? To answer this question we will go down memory lane and talk, a little, about the founding father of morning shows, Mustansar Hussain Tarar or Chacha ji. That was what all the children of Pakistan called him and since there was only one channel on telly back then, the children had no option either! But we liked him. He dedicated 10 minutes of the show to us where he talked about, well, kiddy stuff, and put on display the drawings children sent him from all over the country. There was a terrible cartoon squeezed in between the kiddy talk and drawings, mostly Danger Mouse. Tarar Sb. was the face of the morning show, Subah Bakhair, on PTV and I’m sure many of us remember him. And he talked sense because he wasn’t just a pretty face dressed in a designer outfit, but a learned man who, restrained under a controlled and censorious network, helped viewers start the day on a positive note.

Fast forward to the present, a day and age where there is not one, not two but like ten morning shows, and all of them are, more or less the same. The ingredients for the perfect morning show? An elaborate set, with lots of useless items all around the host which may include an aquarium, gaudy colored sofas and high-tech gadgets (after seeing the ipad on two morning shows I’m quite disenchanted with it) which are used to read out a plethora of messages and emails. Besides this a female host is essential, preferably the popular one of another channel or a famous actress (who does not have an acting career any longer. Is applicable to other professions also.), dressed up as a doll in designer outfits with a fashion consultant, dermatologist, astrologer (or tarot card reader), trainer and a chef in her team. The latest is a ‘match-maker’ on one of the morning shows (that’s the title under her name!) who considers herself an authority on all pre and post marital issues (morning shows are equal opportunity employers,it seems.)

When the lawn frenzy (a glaring reflection of our materialistic society) hit the nation, morning shows took turns to talk with each designer. For example, Umar Sayeed was on all the morning shows for each day of his exhibition with a different model sporting his outfit accompanying him. At least he and others like him in the showbiz /fashion industry need such publicity but why in God’s name is the useless Sharmila Farooqui on morning shows? We all know her capabilities (none exist), but why does she have to prove her worthlessness again and again? As if we don’t get to see her enough, talking nonsense, in every other talk show in the evening.

And then there are the attempts to do something for the society, Oprah style, by inviting people on the show to discuss their problems publicly with lots of tears, confessions and accusations. If that wasn’t enough, morning show hosts are now providing detective services to spy on your husband in case he is having an extra marital affair.

Materialism, useless banter, wedding celebrations, fashion talk, silly games – morning shows are a reflection of the tamasha our country has become, on a cultural level (among others). Maybe this is too strong a statement but when the topic of the day being discussed early morning is ‘Do you think the mother-in-law is the bigger villain or the daughter-in-law?’ you know there is something seriously wrong with us.

I think Chacha ji needs to make a comeback.