Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Nobody can dispute that the idiot box can sometimes turn us into idiots. Ever since the country got TV service way back in 1963 (and colour TV in 1978) concerns had been raised about its effects on society. Apparently, we are not alone. In many countries, especially USA, where the bulk of the TV programs come from, parents' concerns are growing and they are feeling more and more helpless at what Tok Mat, Malaysia's former Minister of Information called VHS - violence, horror and sex on TV. The latest observation by the Deputy Prime Minister will not be the last. For now, it should be chewed well by all those in the media.
As I have mentioned before in previous posts, TV has many messages. A single commercial can have more than one message. The unspoken message sometimes speaks louder. Let us take a soft drink ad where it showed a young man happily gurgling the drink right from the bottle. The obvious message is "Drink this soft drink and you will be as happy" or whatever emotion strikes you as you were watching. The unspoken messages are: It is ok to drink right from the bottle and it is ok to drink standing up. You might say "Whats wrong with that?" and you could be perfectly right. But to generations of parents who taught their children to drink from a glass and to sit down when eating and drinking, this is far from alright. These are part of the our values that the DPM was talking about.
We have been strict in the past. Movies with messages that "crime pays" were not shown. There were other taboos too. For example, I remember an episode of "Longstreet" was taken off because two of the characters in the episode lived together and they are not married. I guess we cannot ban episodes like that anymore nowadays because in most of the imported TV series, it is considered normal to live together as husband and wife out of wedlock. People forget that it is normal in USA and should not be normal in our own country. The thing is, the more we see it, the sooner we accept it as acceptable and normal. It is just like watching a lot of violence on screen that we are not shocked or appalled at real life violence anymore.
Let us take a trip down memory lane and think of the popular TV fare that you (or your parents) got hooked on. Since there were too many programmes and too little time, let us just take the soap operas. We cannot talk about soaps without mentioning "Dallas". We felt for the Ewings who had their trials and tribulations. We pitied Bobby Ewing for being too noble. Some rooted for the manipulative and wily J.R. I even heard a few people admiring the evil J.R. The most watched episode of Dallas, worldwide was when J.R. got shot. The message, in simple words, was "good always triumph over evil". Many people got the wrong message though. Many wanted to live the way the characters live. Champagne wishes and caviar dreams. The same message were gotten from "Dynasty", "The Colbys" and other prime time soaps. From these we learnt about wheeling and dealing, deceit, betrayal and other unsavoury stuffs. How much unconsciously stuck in our heart and mind and how far they influenced our way of life, we do not know. What I know is nobody wants to have a hard life like Oshin in the soap opera of the same name.
If you think that TV has no influence whatsoever on our way of life, look at how our teenagers dress and listen to how they talk. Where do they copy all these from? What are we to do? Do we throw away all our TV sets? Do we let other people's morality and way of life usurp our own?
One wise person once said that the flesh of the living fish swimming in the ocean will not get salty. Let us not be drowned in the sea of money-minded programmes and become salted fish.