Those of us who grew up in the early years of the 21st century in India would remember what a joy the kids' programs were during those days. They were so eagerly awaited in the evenings, so passionately debated during the lunch hour at school and so fondly remembered. I bet everyone would relate to Tom & Jerry, Oswald, Ben 10, Pokemon, Winnie the Pooh, Timon and Pumba......in case you remember anything I may have missed out; feel free to mention it. ;) To be honest, these shows played an integral part in our lives.
But today as I was flipping through the cartoon channels, after a very long time, I couldn't connect to the new shows. Somehow all of them seemed strange to me. Somehow Doraemon didn't interest me, and neither did any of those other shows. The use of language and the values being taught caught my attention. Well, put simply there is this cartoon called Oggy and the Cockroaches, and you should just see the tone and the content. I would begin to worry if kids of this age spoke like that. Chhota Bheem is beginning to get on my nerves. You simply can't make a 2 hour freaking movie about nothing!!
The one key factor that has been missed is that during our times, 10 years ago, some classics were being retold. I remember we were eagerly waiting for Mowgli on Sahara One. I would sit in front of the TV to wait for Winnie the Pooh episodes. I read the books too, and the picturization was just as good. And while many TV show adaptions of books aren't that successful, a couple of shows such as these managed to capture my imagination. I rarely see classics being retold. I see the soft, thoughtful words of Mowgli, Pooh and Oswald give way to loud, useless and irrelevant dialogues. Shows these days focus more on talking behind people's backs, and kindergarten kids hitting on their class teacher.
Another thing is consumer fatigue. Or something in that same line. I remember when any series would come to an end, it would fill me with a sadness that lasted a couple of days. And as heart-breaking as it sounds, it only made me appreciate the worth of such shows. Very few episodes, easy to recollect, lots to reminisce about. But today? I never see an end to these cartoons. They have been going on for such a long time. New episodes, movie adaptations...they never seem to end. There seems to be a serious dearth of new, fresh and genuine ideas. *sigh*
Point no. 3, the language. You know that shrill pitch of Doraemon, that desperate attempt to copy Sunny Deol's voice for a cockroach, Roll no. 21- the failed attempt at recreating mythology- all these failed to charm me. Nothing- there is absolutely nothing that stands out in the language.It is quite unpolished, very vernacular (I am using the term in a negative sense). It may seem entertaining to you at first, but remember the only reason you find it entertaining is because you know the actual, pure form of that language and you understand the pun and the jokes. Try telling this to a kid. He doesn't know the actual language yet, and the only thing he hears is the light-hearted informal one, which sometimes doesn't go well in the professional life. To know the difference between the formal and the informal form of a language and appreciating it is one thing, while making a kid learn only the informal one is another thing.
All said and done, the content which a child sees needs to be carefully monitored. It should be subject to extensive debate and discussion, and there should be regulations. These days, with both mom and dad working,the only way to quieten a child is to make him watch TV. Therefore it becomes all the more important to keep track of the content and the dialogue of the show. We say kids these days are becoming insensitive; is it because we have left them alone infront of the Idiot box? Is it because we are not with them when they make judgements and form opinions about the characters?
This has to be kept in mind- these shows will make or break a child, and this is what they're gonna remember for long. As one of my favorite characters, Pooh says......
“Sometimes, the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”