Bigg Boss Tamil – If I Heart Oviya, Why Are You Offended?
Why is my interest in Bigg Boss Tamil or Oviya used as a crutch to guilt-trip me into caring about other issues?
Oviya is one of the contestants on Bigg Boss Tamil. Currently, surprisingly and inexplicably, she enjoys a level of popularity and support that the PR personnel of movie stars often dream about and sigh.
Right now, Tamil Nadu is divided into two groups of people;
1. Oviya rocks! She’s so honest and strong and brave.
2. Cauvery is almost dry. Farmers are still committing suicide. We’re not even sure who our CM is. And you’re talking about Oviya?! Oviya won’t solve TN’s problems. Where is your sense of responsibility? What nonsense is...
It is one thing to express one's opinion about a show or a format (Bigg Boss sucks. It is worse than a mega-mega-unending serial). But to use it as a crutch to guilt trip is unacceptable. More importantly, it doesn’t work.
The Guilt-Trip of Leisure
Television used to be called an 'idiot box'. My grandfather still calls it that.
Right now, over 1.4 billion households have access to a TV, which comes to about 3.5 billion TV watchers across the world. I wager, ALL of them would have been guilt-tripped for watching their favourite show at some point of time, for one reason or the other. The guilt of watching television is as pervasive as the TV itself.
Leisure is considered a guilty indulgence that one needs to do away with. And, of the different forms of leisure, consuming content – through TV, the internet or other electronic devices – is somehow considered the abyss of non-productivity.
Ah, so you slept through the weekend? Good for you!
What?! You watched Bigg Boss Tamil? What a waste of a weekend!
Productivity is directly linked to the amount of guilt-free down time you enjoy. The science is strong on this one. From tea/coffee breaks in factories to paid family vacations, which are a thing in the Netherlands, the aim is to take your mind off work. The result – you tend to work better.
And I'm entitled to my own form of leisure, as are you.
The Cultural Guilt-Trip
I used to love Chacha Choudhary comics when I was in class four. Problem is, I still do. To blame it on nostalgia would be unfair. Despite the sexist overtones and the stereotypes it enforces, there is still a part of me that finds it... pleasing. However, I'd think twice before I share a page from the book on social media.
Taste, and a sense of aesthetics, are quite personal and subjective.
But when it comes to sharing them, or talking about them, personal preferences often take a back seat. The 'society' insidiously dictates which song is worth appreciating, and my liking of which film denotes a lower IQ.
Haven’t you ever had a 90s item number ear-worm? One that suggests nothing but pelvic thrusts in the rhythm and lyrics, stuck in your head for hours on end?
Tell me you don’t secretly enjoy an inane pun right in the middle of an all-important, serious conversation.
Haven't we all spent an hour or two imagining we were a hero, with a body that spandex could complement? If you think you haven't, remember that every time you watch a movie, you superimpose your consciousness onto the characters you see.
Tell me you've never had the desire to strip to your inners, spread yourself onto the sofa, and watch whatever the TV plays. Where's the productivity or purpose in that? Where's the decency?
I can blame my dislike for Bigg Boss or my inordinate interest in Oviya, on my genes, my conditioning or even on latent tendencies that I carry from past lives. The point here is, you can’t.
The Guilt-Trip of ‘Not Doing Enough’
The feeling of inadequacy, of 'not-doing-enough' is extremely high among doctors, social workers and soldiers; those in professions that the rest of us look up to as 'life-saving', ones that entail personal sacrifice.
By watching Bigg Boss Tamil, and spending time every day in conversations about Oviya, and the other contestants on Bigg Boss, am I guilty of squandering my time on trivialities? Shouldn’t I be out there, doing good to the world, or at least to my community instead?
This is what most feeds in Tamil media have been harping on, the last few weeks. Right from the Cauvery drying up, to the suicide of farmers, to political unrest; every piece of news shared, is accompanied by the caveat – ‘stop watching/supporting Oviya, and look at this.’
There are two assumptions here, both of which I believe are a problem;
1. Altruism, or ‘helping others’, is the goal of life.
2. Everyone who’s doing ‘social service’, is in it for the same reason.
We each have our own goals, it is in the pursuit of these that we find happiness, and a chance to do 'good'. I worked for two years as a media consultant in a hospital in Madurai. In attempting to promote the paediatric cancer ward and the hospice centre, I got to work closely with children who fought cancer, and adults who faced immanent death. I had to get them to cheer up, to laugh at my jokes and face questions that they would have otherwise avoided.
My time with the kids in the cancer ward, and the inmates of the hospice centre gave me a deep sense of purpose. It also left me with a nagging feeling of ineptitude. I realised I could do nothing.
Guilt is a complicated feeling, and it doesn't go away when someone says to me, 'don't feel guilty.' But I'd rather deal with guilt that stems from within me, rather than that which is fed to me from the external.
Could I have worked on a story or finished an edit, rather than watch Bigg Boss Tamil? Last week, yes. This week, no.
Should I have done something for the society, instead of rooting for Oviya?
Well, as Oviya would say;
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