Degradation of society or what is there on TV

by Ayan Rahbarli

Television is probably the most widespread and easily accessible type of mass media. It is hard to imagine our daily life without it. So, I won’t hesitate to say that society is being influenced by TV and its content, the most popular of which are TV shows.

A few years ago, all foreign channels were closed and now we have only 8 local ones (one of which is a sport channel, with no science or education oriented channels). To be honest, I’m not a big fan of our local TV and haven’t watched it for a long time; nevertheless, recently I noticed that our TV shows are being discussed more and more often. Some just make fun of them, share funny videos, make discussions, while others take them really seriously and follow them with an authentic excitement.

I decided to make a little research and find out what is it about these shows that make them main topics for discussions. So, I took the TV channel guide and started to count the number of shows. The result surprised me; I never thought we had such an abundance of cheesy entertainment programs of all kinds. What surprised me even more was that they all were very popular. I’m not saying these shows should be taken off air and I’m not saying that it is only in Azerbaijan where such TV shows are popular, but what made me concerned is that there is not much alternative for them on local TV. To make it clear, I’ll bring some numbers; there are around 20 programs related to culture, education, health and economy on all 7 channels, ironically most of them are broadcasted on a channel with the lowest rating. In contrast to these, we have more than 70 low quality entertainment shows during a week. I divided these shows into three categories.

As a starter, we have what I call “Make me cry” shows. The main purpose of these shows as seen from the title is to make people cry. In order to do this, hosts mostly invite our “stars” from show business and create an opportunity for them to talk about their hard lives, as they are also human beings and have problems as all of us do. In general most of the stories start with a description of the hardships they all had to go through before achieving their current statuses; betrayals they faced from their families and colleagues who were very jealous about their popularity. These all are being accompanied by tears and sobbing. I’m not laughing at their problems or emotions, but in general there are only two reasons why our “stars” decide to shed light on their personal lives. First, they just feel their minute of fame is coming to an end, and people are finally sick and tired of their 3 notes, same word songs, and it is probably their last chance to gain some attention and interest to their personalities even for a week before there is another “falling star” being invited to the program. The second reason has the same aim, but for those who appear on these shows as they see no other way to get some attention from the public (talent is out of the discussion in these cases). They are easily watched as they make people forget their own problems and get closer to the life many feel much exited about.

For the main course, we’ve got all possible kinds of song and music contests. These TV shows are the most widespread ones. Almost every day they are being broadcasted on every channel, and it is impossible to remember all the faces you see in these competitions, as singers in Azerbaijan are “produced” with an unbelievable speed. Sometimes it seems to me that the main purpose of our youth is to become singers, whether they have a voice or not, as long as they appear on TV. My favorite show is the so-called “Queen of Weddings.” As we already have “King of Weddings,” it is not surprising and makes sense that someone decided to pair the “king.” A famous proverb would suit this situation well, “Let us starve, but have fun,” something that doesn’t lose its actuality for Azerbaijan.

For desert I kept my favorite type of TV shows – “Marry  Me”. These shows are very new and considered the most popular ones on our local TV. In our society we still have a stereotype that if two people date, have a relationship and try to know each other closer before they decide to get married it is something very shameful. It should be noted that the dating process is the most annoying one for our society. But not to worry as now there are shows specializing in bringing people together, with popular quote, “in front of the 9 million population of Azerbaijan.” The process is fast and straightforward – first is the appearance on the show, second are calls coming from those who liked you, third invitation to the studio and if the two people like each other they can finally go to drink tea!!! Once the final decision is made, and it is positive, then within a month or maximum two there is a wedding. Most of those who come to these programs only have a secondary education, are unemployed or have nowhere to live. I do respect everyone’s choice to have a family of their own, but taking into account that the number of divorces have increased significantly over the last couple of years, I doubt whether this is the right way to cope with this growing problem. Not to mention the criteria young girls on these shows look for in their future husbands – it is not his education or career but his JEALOUSY skills?! And even this doesn’t scare me as much as the fact that young people of 18-25 or even others really consider these programs to be their last chances to create a family of their own. Does this mean that we are not able to make one of the most important decisions of our lives independently, and trust created shows more than ourselves?

Some might say that it is not a big deal and there is no need to take all of this seriously and make a problem out of this; at the end of the day it is always possible to connect to the cable TV. But we shouldn’t forget that not everyone has an opportunity and resources to do so. The world of these people consists of these TV shows mostly as there aren’t many alternatives.

Today instead of going to theatres, ballet, listening to opera, and spending time to develop what we already have, we seriously think of who deserves the title of the “Queen of Weddings” and hurry home from work, putting everything aside just to see who is going to be the next happy couple to marry. Who would have thought that Azerbaijan, a country with rich school of classical music, literature, and poetry would one day become a place where much of this will be forgotten and replaced with degrading and low quality TV shows… Sad, isn’t it?

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