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Bhutan Observer
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The uglier side of reality shows
Editor, April 16, 2013
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Sentencing of a reality show organiser to six months in prison by the High Court this week puts to rest a contentious issue surrounding the rapidly expanding reality show business in the country. The verdict comes as a relief in that it will help curb dishonest and deceptive practices in the reality shows. This was one case that the parents concerned did not leave lying down, but there could be other instances of organisers not living up to their promises. It’s unfortunate that one of the first reality shows, which claimed to nurture the budding talents, turned ugly.

Bhutanese reality shows, generally, are not wholesome in many ways. The average music-loving Bhutanese may take them at face value, but for a critical viewer, there are many aspects of them that are unwholesome or downright distasteful. There is no denying that recognising and grooming musical talents is important. However, when talent hunt or recognition comes as part of overriding business interest, there is a fundamental problem. That is why, it’s important for us to get down to the fundamentals of the show.

Our reality shows are modelled on the Indian reality shows, which in turn are modelled on the American shows. And this model is business model. Prizes are mostly sponsored and contestants backed up by businesses, which often steal the show. Contestants often appear with a business tag and are often under pressure to go out of their way to seek votes.

Often, young children – some of them just off the mother’s lap – are put on the stage to beg for votes, stand criticised by adults, and face “danger zone” and “elimination”. And they have to go through these stages with a show presenter who tries to make everything emotional, sentimental, and teary. These are not the stuff for children. Such a model of reality shows throws young children and the audience into uncompromising world of business and competition.

Music – and musical shows for that matter – should be humanising. We are not sure if our reality shows follow this fundamental premise. It’s high time that the government set a strict guideline on how reality shows should be organised so that they are musical and humanising.

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