Grandma's Tales

March 24, 2007

This is not reality!

Filed under: Games People Play,Movie,Society — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 10:07 am

Last week, I watched one of those “chupa rustum” kind of reality shows. I watch them merely to find out the psychology involved. What makes people fall for the words of a complete stranger in a street? I say “street” because a stranger in a street is totally anonymous, he could be anyone, as opposed to a stranger in a local department store, in the sense you can attach some credibility to him.
In most of these shows, people get duped because
[1] they are well-mannered. A guy accosts you with a sob story, and as a fellow citizen, you stop to listen.
[2] They are curious. What is this guy selling? Should I know about it?
[3] Greed. Am I getting something cheap? Is it a freebie?
[4] Genuine concern. The poor guy is too scared to get down the tree. Can I help?
In the end all of them are exposed as trusting, uncritical, gullible sods. All for fun. Of course, some wise guys producing the show will claim that they are telling people not to be naive. How can you fall for it? Suspect everything and everyone. All are guilty till proved innocent (My husband endorses this theory fully) . This is public service, yaar!
Right. But what is this?
In one reality show, a guy walked around throwing peanut shells at passers-by. The setting was a well-known amusement park. There were young couples, families with very young kids and elderly men and women walking around, minding their business. The TV guy would sidle up to them, get close and chuck the shells at them. It was a horrifying sight. (I’m breaking a writing rule here – see the previous post). He wouldn’t stop at one or two of those little pellets. He would pretend to be eating – his bag had only shells – and pelt them in a continuous attack. Sometimes he would get in the middle of the group and throw them both ways.
More horrifying was the reaction. No one said a word! Here is this pest, attacking you with garbage, and you walk away?
It was interesting to note the difference in the way men and women reacted. Most men took it stoically, some childish prank, they seemed to say, but the women glared. Some nudged their male companion to do something. But the men weren’t getting into an argument. Many just moved away, shaking the debris off their clothes and hair. Don’t want trouble, you know. Meanwhile, the offender went on, relentless.
Till he did that to a couple of white women. At first they were taken aback, but then they stood in front of him and began to shout. Obviously, in their country, such behaviour in public meets with low tolerance. The TV pest smiled weakly, and pointed to the shooting camera. Horror! The women stopped shouting, but were not amused. They glared, muttered something, and walked away.
Here are my questions:
[1] Would those men and women put up with such behaviour at home? How is it that what is not tolerated at home is condoned in public? Is there such a disconnect between private and public life? To me, throwing litter at someone is an offence, period.
[2] What happens to all those films shot without the participants’ permission? Is someone in the studios watching them and doubling up with laughter? Is it used as a de-stresser?
[3] And who cleans up the mess left behind? Is it our right to litter a public place because we paid the price of a ticket to enter?
There was no shot on the show of anyone (where was the crew?) picking up after the TV guy. To me, leaving all that litter behind is an equal crime.


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