INNOCENCE is the hallmark of childhood. It is this singular characteristic which sets apart a child from a grown up person. The simplicity, guilelessness, truthfulness, trusting nature, are all qualities associated with innocence. While it is the most desirable trait in every child it also renders children vulnerable to threats from vicious and perverted characters in the society. It becomes essential for elders to preserve and nurture innocence in children at the same time protect them from exploitation due to naivety. As children grow up, they become wiser to the ways of the world through being tutored by elders and peers or experiential learning by observing and inferring from events and happenings in surrounding environment. However, in contemporary times the influences around children are so powerful that they are losing the sheath of innocence very early and in the process acquiring dangerously negative traits, which hamper their holistic development.
Television and particularly cartoons are one of the strongest influences on impressionable minds of children. Just two decades back children’s cartoons were very innocuous and entertaining with harmless and inoffensive contents and language. For instance the popular shows were based on pleasantly amusing characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Winnie the Pooh, Yogi bear, Tom & Jerry etc. The cartoons portrayed an idyllic world with gentle humour and subtle learning inputs. The unspoilt, innocent minds of children were not subjected to any negative influence due to these cartoon shows. However, in recent times the cartoons which are being shown on Television targeted for children are based on themes and characters which portray unrealistic and undesirable events and situations causing adverse impact on tender minds. The gentle and sensitive characters in cartoons of earlier years have been replaced by vicious, scheming , violent and brutal characters. The story line and themes of such sadistic cartoons tend to make children insensitive and aggressive. Even the games on mobiles are having similar impact on children. By exposing children to such undesirable influences the loss of innocence gets accelerated and further leads to their developing a wrong and patently misguided perception about the world. This leads to further disastrous consequences as being observed in children and adults addicted to Pokemon Go and BlueWhale.
Why children, even in case of adults there has been a rapid deterioration of simplicity and innocence in the very vital aspect of life that is humour. Laughter is indeed the best medicine and cure for many physical and mental ailments. But the kind of perverse humour that is pervading and percolating in the society nowadays is causing deep concern about degradation in mental and intellectual faculties in people. Once upon a time there used to be TV shows of Charlie Chaplin, Laurel Hardy, Lucy show, Yes Minister, Kakkaji Kahin, Nukkad, MrYogi, Wagle ki duniya etc. The humour was intense at the same time innocent, decent, sensible and palatable. The entire family could watch the show without any trace of embarrassment. classic movies such as Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, Padosan, Golmaal, Angoor, Khoobsurat, Chupke chupke etc set superlative standards of comedy and humour to be enjoyed by all spontaneously.
However, the current crop of “humourous” movies and comedy shows on TV are a torture for sensible and a decent society. An immensely “popular” idiotic comedy show has prominent presence of a sportsman turned politician who is continuously laughing at inane jokes as if he has consumed bhaang or inhaled Nitrous oxide. Crude double meaning dialogues, and semi-pornographic audio visual contents abound in Comedy TV shows and movies which perhaps may have great appeal to riff raff and vagabonds. The drastic fall in standards is simply appalling. John Milton wrote the epic “Paradise Lost” and now it is time for right thinking people to ponder on “Innocence Lost”.