Thursday, July 24, 2008

The pressures of childhood...........

Well, I saw an episode of BONES yesterday, and that really provoked a lot of thoughts. The theme covered two topics on which I have had rather strong sentiments about. Well, for those who don’t know BONES, it is an excellent show that generally revolves around a newly found skeleton every week. It is the job of the forensic experts to trace a face, figure out who the skeleton was when it was more than just bones, and eventually trace the killer. All within the one hour. And this makes the show totally power packed. Anyway, yesterday’s show spoke about the skeleton of a 9 year old female, who had been a kiddie beauty pageant winner. The suspects ranged from a demanding parent, a competitor’s miffed mother, another kid’s creepy looking elder brother and hold your breath….. another 9 year old! The killer…. The 9 year old!!!

They say television more often than not projects current society or at least a projected society of the future. (Please do not include regressive daytime soaps or the Hindi K serials!!! They don’t represent television as a genre!) So, this episode covered two topics – pressure on kids and glamour. So I was tempted to write ‘A Childhood lost…. II’. I still remember, many households in our native village, which I would visit during vacations, would have at least 2 kids. And the parents there would feel very proud if their kids could recite shlokas coherently. “You know, Ganesh can recite 8 verses of the Geeta without prompting, and he is 4.” This statement would be accompanied by a beaming face, full of pride! And today, people take pride in the fact that their child can sing ‘Ishq Kameena’ or even dance hideously to those tunes! I am not terribly old. But yes, I have seen the decadence if I can call it, in front of my own eyes. It would have been better if this was restricted to the households and family-friends parties. But, now, we have managed to broadcast this crass show on national television. The result? It is for all to see. One kid was paralyzed since she suffered a terrific shock at being ridiculed on national television. Now we all know how hideous it is to be made fun of in front of a classroom full of kids our own age. While competing, the motivation is to become a star in front of the nation. The ultimate exaltation. Unfortunately, the fall is equally, if not more precipitous. And kids till the age of 12, are not psychologically strong enough to handle this hit. At an age when all they should ideally think of revolves around amusement parks, swings, clowns, games, playing and of course school, I guess people choose to burden them with careers, glamour, fame and fortune. There is a time and an age for everything. Just like how you can’t be a football star at 80, you cannot be expected to be a celebrity at 8, and lead a normal life. Every star has a high and a low. It takes tremendous courage, strength and grit to put up with failure and ridicule. This maturity comes with age.

The second issue is glamour. This has been an industry that has fascinated me since ages. Not for any other reason except the fact that it aims to make money through people’s vanity. What is in vogue today will be passé tomorrow! And all we can do is try to continuously match up. I am reminded of a time when I was a little girl. There was this real mean older girl in the neighborhood. She had a huge bunch of cousins and all these people were my only ‘friends’. I still remember one day, when we were going to go outside to play, they were just getting out as well. And all of them were wearing a certain green hair band. Mine was red. And the mean girl said, “we are all green… you are only red.” I ran back home, and pulled out my green band, and went out, only to see them all wearing red now. “we are all red, you are only green.” I guess I got my first lesson of not wanting to play match up, pretty early on in life. But the world of glamour is harsher, meaner. You need to have the perfect hair, perfect skin, perfect smile, every single minute. Add to it the bitchiness and backbiting tendency of everyone who wants to make it to the top. The place at the top has room for just one person. And it is a crazy world out there with everyone kicking and scratching and screaming, pulling down those who managed to rise up. The result? Many dope to doom! The most prominent case, which was also made into a movie, is the case of Gia – immortalized by Angelina Jolie in a movie by the same name. Closer home, we have Shivani Kapur and Geetanjali Nagpal, the latter notoriously found begging on the streets of Delhi. Imagine, 25 year old seasoned arc light experts buckle under the pressure. And kiddie beauty pageants are a craze in the US. They have always been so over the years. I don’t think I need to describe the immense psychological pressure it puts on these kids. I don’t even need to describe the tremendous consequences.

I wish I could make an earnest appeal to all the fame hungry parents out there. Please let the kids be happy. They need to enjoy life. See the world, smell the fresh rain soaked mud, scream from the top of a windmill, run barefoot in the waves, eat ice creams and chocolates without worrying about calories and inches. Just please return their childhood to them and take pride in the fact that their innocence is intact, and not in the fact that they can identically imitate Hrithik Roshan’s dance steps!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Serious talk .. something I agree with and worry about as well. But craze for fame and glamour are some strands of the DNA of most adult human species. Who does not want to be a hero?
You quite echo my thoughts that parents are the culprits here. While I try to add my two cents, excuse me if I put down some nonsense. In most instances I know, these kids are forced into realizing the fantasies of their parents. Since I remember my childhood much recently than the parents of these kids, I can recollect well that learning music or dancing is no fun. So brainwashing these small kids and stealing them of their childhood to satisfy the childish whims of a mother or father to be famous and on TV is reversing nature's choice of children growing to be men and women. When these kids at the end of the puppet show end up on the losing side,Do they even realize that they leave their kids nor with a realistic dream for their future neither have they given them a past to look back to and be nostalgic about.
While I say so, I cannot agree better with your line that said "It takes tremendous courage, strength and grit to put up with failure and ridicule.This maturity comes with age." But then maybe its not the right line. If it did come with age why would these kids have to play a role of mockery on national TV.