Impact of American Television on Pakistani Culture
This piece my personal opinion on how the media in America is impacting the people and most importantly the youth of Pakistan.
Remember the days when the only channel on TV was PTV (Pakistan television)? When we barely had any other option to turn to when it came to media entertainment? Parents didn’t have to worry about putting channel locks on the TV as everything on TV was appropriate for families. PTV offered a blend of educational, cultural and entertaining programs. It promoted our heritage through the cultural hours allocated to each region of the country. Children were educated through entertaining game shows and dramas that encouraged ethical behavior. The soaps and dramas depicted the social aspects of our lives and the social evils found here.
With the arrival of cable television into our society the public now has the option to choose from hundreds of channels to watch. Getting the latest news from across the world is only a few seconds away due to the many news channels available. Like our local channel, PTV, promotes our culture so do the channels from other countries. This has heavily impacted the society of Pakistan. American TV shows have become really popular in Pakistan and, especially in the youth. They are watched to such an extent that their culture and ours’ is intertwining and this is a cause for concern. The fact that they are now accessible on DVDs has made things worse.
The western culture is very secular and liberal. Everyone is allowed to do as they see fit without caring for what other members of the society thinks. There are no limitations. Our society on the other hand has clearly defined boundaries, which if not complied with can cause many problems.
With the growing popularity of western television, the ideologies of the western culture are being promoted in our society. The lives of the kids in the west are opposites to the lives of kids here but due to watching TV our kids are picking up their culture and implementing it into their own lives. The defined cliques shown in the western high-schools and the stereotypes associated with each one are now seen to be shooting up in the local schools.. We don’t realize that teen suicide and depression rates are extremely high in western high-schools due to the discrimination based on cliques and now this evil is becoming a part of our younger generation. Instead of promoting the educational aspect of school these shows make the actually smart kids look like the worst of the lot as they don’t concentrate on the superficial things and work on their studies. The girls are always concentrating on their looks and clothes and the boys on sports. Yes, these shows do help the kids get a better fashion sense but this turns negative as majority of the people don’t have the resources to be as fashionable and therefore feel they can’t fit in. school should be about learning and enjoying ones youth but these shows have made it like a popularity and beauty contest.
Another major impact these shows are having on our society is that they don’t promote family life. In the West divorces, single parents and kids born out of wedlock are very common. And in situations where a complete family is there the kids are sent away to live their own lives when they turn eighteen. Our society puts a lot of emphasis on the close family unit. The parents make the major decisions for the kids and remain a vital part of their everyday lives. Families stick together and handle the problems. But with the influence of western TV on our generation many problems similar to the ones the western society faces are coming up. Divorce rates are going up and kids are becoming rebellious. I’m not saying parents should control each and every aspect of the kids’ life, we’re not puppets of course, but incorporating their experience and wisdom into our lives will end up benefiting us more.
Dating and having pre and post marital relationships is shown to be something not just acceptable but more like a need for the people. Marriage is shown to be nothing short of a death sentence and having kids means the end of a person’s life. Characters like Barney on “how I met your mother”, joey from friends and Charlie from two and a half men are set as examples young men to follow who literally spend each night with different girls. Not just that now they are even promoting homo-sexual relationships on these shows. Just the other day on the show 90210 a gay couple being intimate was shown and it totally disgusted me and made me realize that it is through these shows that we are being made accustomed to such things. If watching such shows is okay with us then there will come a time that we will begin to accept homo-sexuality in our society too.
Rules and ethical boundaries are what give our society strength. We may think that the pressure from our families put on us might hurt our individuality but we should also consider that it is due to this pressure that we stay focused on our education and end up having good substantial careers. The western kids don’t have any aims and studies have shown that due to this they end up changing majors so much in college that they barely have any education to build a career on.
College life shown in shows like Blue Mountain State and Greek is nothing but a four year party where the only concern the kids face is getting drunk and finding someone to pay to do their homework. The western shows paint a very unrealistic picture of life if examined from the eastern point of view.
I admit these shows are addictive and entertaining, I mean the humor in them is really good and not to mention the background music. These shows have led to the local youth becoming more fashion conscious and also improved the language skills of younger kids as by watching these shows instead of Hindi ones they converse better in English and learn new words.. But we should realize that these shows should merely be taken as entertainment. Parents should make sure that the kids are watching shows that are appropriate for their age and make the effort to explain to the kids the expectations of our society and the differences from the west.