Posted by: Laxman | October 1, 2008

The Moment of Truth; The Moment of Trial!

Reality TV rocks. It really does. It is the in-thing as far as the Proverbial Idiot Box goes these days. The top networks around the world have caught up with the rising TRPs and are more than willing to exploit the inquisitiveness of billions of unassuming couch potatoes for commercial space, time and the interminable inflow of revenue from advertisements. There used to be a time when seasons of episode after episodes of numerous television series secured the topnotch; ranging from drama, comedy, action, adventure to historical and sci-fi, fictional and entertaining, these genres occupied the prime time of television around the world. They were these which came with the ‘Emmy-Nominated’ and eventually the ‘Emmy-Award-Winning’ tags.

Then came a time of the talk shows. Your Oprah’s, Leno’s, Helen’s, Kimmel’s, Kumar’s at 42 – if you happened to be in India – Shekar Suman’s, Coffee with Karan’s, Yuki Sethu’s, Hari-Giri Assembly’s where eminent celebrities were interviewed by these tongue-twisting, loud-mouthed, non-stop talking machines who asked them the ineffable and yet got away asking them alright, questions, for which a sincere journalist at an official press-meet would have received acerbic answers with piercing icicle stares. Back in the studio, in front of live audience and later aired on national television, the celeb quips, laughs, smiles at his/her vagaries, indulges in self-inflicted comedy, tries to imitate the host’s stand-up lines, fails, looks sheepish, jumps on couches, dances, shares a light moment, another dense one, becomes sentimental, sheds a tear or two, gathers support for a noble cause amidst rhythmically co-ordinated theatrical applause.

Everything, literally, every’thing’ has an initial period of establishment when introduced. If found decent, it gains an upward momentum. If found good, a further steep inclination on the graph. If found very good, keeps on climbing till it reaches a peak. And unfortunately every’thing’ has only one peak; one prime. Then the declination process starts as another ‘thing’ manages to replace it in its position at the zenith or even soars breaking the vertical barrier to never before discovered highs.

It is quite tedious to cite in particular the first ever reality series on worldwide television. However, it is of little significance under the context. The talent hunts comprise a galaxy of their own. The mean and ruthless Simon Cowell has come under the scanner of many a critic that it becomes rather redundant to dwell on such shows that consist the likes of him with the accompanying two other decoys. The focus right now is on an American game show that sells itself beyond the amount of prize money involved; beyond a hype that can ever be associated with RAW or Smackdown; beyond issues or intellect. It is a game show which with a little help from technology goes after the universal deceit, truth. Truth is something, they say, which can never be swept under the carpet and sustained beneath it for too long. Oftentimes, the length of ‘too long’ is quite elusive and undefined in such a statement that denial prevails in the form of delay.

However, in this tuesday night primetime telecast of ‘The Moment of Truth,’ on Star World, there is no room for terms such as denial or delay. The person seated on the hot-seat, quite practiacally, is questioned on some of the most uncomfortable, the least to say, shocking private affairs that it seems as if all world around them is falling apart when they attempt in vain to make some money losing a lot of reputation. The pyramids detailing the dollars won based on levels cleared might be the participant’s own catacombs. The maximum is $500,000 but even that kind of gold seems to be undeserving of the kind of information a participant will be bound to impart to the general public and in particular the ones from whom they had been keeping it from till that point. Before the participant, in a couch, is seated a display of overwrought wife/husband, parents, siblings and all and sundry and one is made to confess ‘truth’ which until then ‘the liar’ had convincingly managed to make-believe of them as otherwise. The attrition rate beyond level two is immense and we witness people returning home empty handed after reaching $200,000 and overthrown on one of the relatively simpler questions with a punctured ego, distraught and deprieved off the strength to face their kinsfolk.

If ‘The Moment of Truth’ is believed not to be a simulation and it’s legitimacy unquestionable, there are a few bothering implications which sprout around the overgrown greenery of its glory. After witnessing a substantial number of episodes one can conclusively gather all the participants of the episode so far in a sample representing the pied american pie-chart of the larger general population. With samples we associate statistics. With statistics we associate a thesis; more colloquially a bottomline. The questions asked fill the studio with a hard to breathe air of disconcertment. Each question is punctuated by the reflexive ‘ooohs…’ and ‘aaahs…’ from the audience. It is not so much a response to the question than an acknowlegdement of feeling fortunate that one is not cursed by fate to be on that seat facing that particular question. The weightage of these questions designed to disorient the despondent dice thrower willfully bowing into the guillotine is most with regards to his/her sexual life.

‘Have you ever been paid for sex?’ 

‘Have you slept with over one hundred women?’

‘Have you ever slept with any of your friend’s wife?’ 

‘Yes’

‘Yes’ and

‘Yes,’ goes the answer from three different participants. All through the season, so far, there has hardly ever been a human being who has not been found to have slipped and fallen on-top or underneath someone they are not licenced to be. The stereotypical promiscuous American Citizen never fails to entrall the viewership. The Sex and the States are inseparable, mostly pre-marital and otherwise extra-marital. And most of these brave men and women don’t even get paid for their act. They should have perhaps risked the cynicism of Simon Cowell rather than embracing themselves to face the deceitfully amiable Mark Walberg.

It is quite hard to fathom how such a reality concept would fare in an ethnically proud and profound country as India. The chaste and the haste will be put to their place if a replicate was to hit the Indian television. Whatever the outcome is or how much ever the prize money is, the sensible soul will choose to stay out of such diabolical duel against truth until when it is most called for, during ‘The Judgement Day.’

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