MOrn­ing Mad­ness

Al­most ev­ery tele­vi­sion chan­nel fea­tures a morn­ing show. It seems that Pak­istani women have more to choose from in terms of fash­ion, cook­ing and gos­sip now. Per­haps this is what makes an ex­cit­ing dif­fer­ence in their lives.

Slogan - - FRONT PAGE - By Mahrukh Fa­rooq

Bright colors, a dash of glit­ter and rau­cous laugh­ter – no mat­ter what chan­nel you are on, it is the same scene every­where. Ac­tresses, mod­els and other me­dia per­son­al­i­ties, both old and new, gather to­gether on one of the in­nu­mer­able morn­ing shows that grace our tele­vi­sion screens to cel­e­brate the umpteenth wed­ding cer­e­mony of a fel­low celebrity (whose nup­tials were prob­a­bly also cel­e­brated on a sim­i­lar morn­ing show tele­cast on an en­tirely dif­fer­ent tele­vi­sion chan­nel the pre­vi­ous week).

The se­quence of events fol­lows the usual trend; a mayun, fol­lowed by a lav­ish mehndi, fol­lowed by an equally ex­trav­a­gant nikah/ rukhsati func­tion, with each of the gush­ing bride’s ‘friends’ and ‘rel­a­tives’ decked up with enough lay­ers of make-up to open their very own cos­met­ics store, not to men­tion de­signer dresses en­crusted with var­i­ous jewels that prob­a­bly end up weigh­ing more than the sofa on which the bride and groom are seated on!

Such is the qual­ity of en­ter­tain­ment (read: tor­ture) that we are treated to via our tele­vi­sion screens ev­ery day. If it is not in the form of some for­got­ten celebrity re­new­ing her mar­riage vows. It can be shown as ei­ther a row be­tween two sec­tions of one fam­ily, with the host act­ing as the ref­eree or an ex­er­cise ded­i­cated en­tirely to­wards invit­ing mem­bers of the para­nor­mal and ul­ti­mately giv­ing them free rein to cre­ate as much havoc as they pos­si­bly can, from knock­ing over stu­dio lights to possessing sup­posed ‘ran­dom’ mem­bers of au­di­ence, all for the pur­pose of evok­ing well­re­hearsed shrieks from the decked up host.

Who in the world watches th­ese shows, you ask. Specif­i­cally, house­wives - women who spend the ma­jor­ity of their day clean­ing up the house and look­ing af­ter the chil­dren. Since the only high­light of their day is when they get the op­por­tu­nity to put up their feet in front of the id­iot box af­ter pack­ing the kids and hus­band off to school and of­fice, re­spec­tively, many Pak­istani house­wives have be­come some­what ad­dicted to this genre of tele­vi­sion pro­grams, with most of them adu­lat­ing over who wore what, their con­ver­sa­tions ac­com­pa­nied with the oc­ca­sional ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ all in an at­tempt to un­der­score one’s sen­ti­ments re­gard­ing what was shown dur­ing that par­tic­u­lar episode.

Per­haps this is what can ex­plain a re­cent sur­vey con­ducted by the na­tional TV rat­ings provider, Me­di­aLogic, in which rat­ings for some of to­day’s lead­ing morn­ing shows on tele­vi­sion were re­vealed. Ac­cord­ing to the

sur­vey, Good Morn­ing Pak­istan, hosted by ac­tress Nida Yasir, bagged first place with a TRP of 0.6. This was fol­lowed by Jago Pak­istan Jago, hosted by yet an­other ac­tress, Sanam Jung and Utho Geo Pak­istan, with Bushra An­sari (who is also an - you guessed it - ac­tress), each hold­ing a TRP of 0.5. The list rounded off with The Morn­ing Show hosted by Sanam Baloch, with a TRP of 0.3 and fi­nally, Subah ki Ka­hani hosted by Madiha Naqvi with a TRP of just 0.2.

Though some may find th­ese re­sults lu­di­crous, al­most laugh­able, they also present an­other, rather grim, side to the qual­ity of tele­vi­sion pro­grams to­day. Ac­cord­ing to Maria Sar­taj in her ar­ti­cle for Dawn, ti­tled, “How Pak­istani Morn­ing Shows are Keep­ing Women ‘Where They Be­long’”, the con­tent of the morn­ing shows has some­what re­stricted women’s role in so­ci­ety to that of a home- maker. With seg­ments re­volv­ing around the cor­rect use of cos­met­ics to the var­i­ous kinds of cook­ery that can be done with a cer­tain group of in­gre­di­ents (both of which are heav­ily spon­sored), the fe­male au­di­ence’s think­ing is be­ing con­fined to el­e­ments that ex­ist within the four walls of the house.

“The top­ics are lim­ited and, even if a few pro­grammes have tried to tread off the beaten path, they’ve all had to re­sort to do­ing their ‘dul­han week’ for the sake of rat­ings,” writes Maria. She fur­ther ex­plains how de­mand for such pro­gram­ming has been de­lib­er­ately cre­ated in an at­tempt to limit any ef­fort that could have been spent in de­vis­ing orig­i­nal and in­no­va­tive con­tent. “Of­fer a hand­ful of op­tions re­peat­edly and the au­di­ence will soon be­come ad­dicted to the one which is the least worse.”

For those of us who have had the priv­i­lege to view morn­ing shows from other coun­tries, the inane an­tics cur­rently un­der­way on our lo­cal chan­nels seems al­most alien in com­par­i­son. Though also mostly di­rected to­wards women, th­ese shows re­frain from in­sult­ing one’s in­tel­li­gence; rather, they aim to en­hance it by bring­ing to the fore­front a va­ri­ety of in­ter­est­ing top­ics branch­ing over a range of sub­jects. From gun con­trol to psy­cho­log­i­cal disorders to ef­fec­tive par­ent­ing to ef­fi­cient liv­ing, this brand of morn­ing shows seems to be de­signed to stim­u­late in­tel­lect rather than re­press it.

If any of our tele­vi­sion gu­rus were to in­tro­duce such con­cepts and adapt it as per the Pak­istani au­di­ence’s tastes, we would be treated to shows that are of much bet­ter qual­ity than the ones that are be­ing shown right now. As a de­vel­op­ing coun­try that is plagued with a va­ri­ety of so­cial, eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal ills, it has be­come im­per­a­tive to em- power each and ev­ery in­di­vid­ual in a man­ner that they are able to take the reins and steer so­ci­ety to­wards growth and pros­per­ity. This in­cludes women, many of whom are al­ready show­ing great po­ten­tial as valu­able con­trib­u­tors to so­ci­ety, whether it is in the role of a house­wife, a doc­tor or a busi­ness-woman. The only way to do so is for the me­dia to set an ex­am­ple and to help broaden the minds of its view­ers so that they may be­come in­de­pen­dent thinkers in their own right.

When the time for this to hap­pen is any­body’s guess. Un­til then, it seems that we have no choice but to be treated to end­less cha­rades of mehndi dances cou­pled with make-up tu­to­ri­als.

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