The movies we like to watch often reflect our morals.
At least, I think so.
Considering how violent I’ve felt after watching movies like Natural Born Killers, Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, I’m glad I wasn’t brought up on a staple diet of movies like that.
Like many other Indians, I was brought up on a diet of Hindi films, for a major part of my life and upbringing. Yeah, it’s a chicken and egg story if you consider that films only reflect the morals of the society and the society follows morals from the films.
Not just films, even TV actually.
Thankfully, I was born in an era which has witnessed both the worlds — the holy world of Doordarshan and the globalised world post the cable and satellite revolution. Thanks to that, I know what we WERE, before we started believing that the guys in Friends lived no differently than us.
To test this theory, I considered a sample of people who grew up watching just cable TV alone… that would be people who are now 14-18. I’m seriously concerned about these guys. For they have grown up on American morals — Friends, Britney Spears, American Pie and hajaar other films and serials where sex is only the natural progression from dessert during a night out with a person of the opposite sex… at 16, do they know what they are doing?
Before you miss my point, let me clarify that I have no issues with consenting adults sleeping together, knowing exactly what they are doing and yes, as long as they are keeping it safe if you get what I mean. Yeah, like using a condom.
Keeping it safe is the last thing in the mind of someone who is 14 or 16 or 18 or even 20 in some cases. Check out the crowd at Bike and Barrel on Saturday nights and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Of course, thanks to the police crackdown, now they insist on ID cards before letting people in. But I think the damage had already been done. The young had already been introduced to alcohol, and now if one door’s closed, they are capable of finding another space (probably more private) to get together.
There are a few changes in the American society and the Indian which is why the morals from America cannot be applied here. The American society is a product of dysfunctional families, wrecked homes and peer pressure. The Indian society is still family-based protective and protected unit. If premarital sex is common in America, so is sex education and the quintessential free spirit. In India, sex means more than just an exchange of body fluids for pleasure. It’s a stronger bond that has to do with commitment and emotional dependency. Yes, there’s plenty of sex education happening in India, you may argue. True, there is. But how many people in the age group of 14-20 actually keep a pack of condoms in their pants? How many of these people actually have the courage to go to the corner store and ask for rubber?
But I’m digressing.
American films are the way they are, because of the lifestyle and the aspirational lifestyle the Americans have. Hollywood is steeped in American morals just like how Bollywood is soaked in Indian morals.
For example: Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge is reflective of the morals of the nineties when Shah Rukh Khan changes a drunk Kajol’s dress and only jokes about sleeping with her and explains to her saying: Ek Hindustani ladka hoke main ek hindustani ladki ka dil kaisey tod sakta hoon! (How can I being an Indian boy break an Indian girl’s heart?)
And the popularity of a movie like Hum Tum suggests that it is reflective of the existing morals when again, a drunk Saif Ali Khan sleeps with Rani Mukherjee who does not regret it the next morning because she knows it was not just sex. It was about two mature adults making love. Our society sure seems to be changing, so are the morals and so are the movies.
Morals are a little complicated to understand when you’re still the rebellious adolescent, which is why I have a problem with the young who have grown up watching just American programming and blindly follow the lifestyle. I’m not really worried about the erosion of culture or protective of it for culture is indeed a changing set of rites and rituals. But yes, I think age has a big role to play when it comes to comprehension of what morals are really all about.
Which is why I think parenting in the 2000s is going to be one hell of a challenge. The movies and TV programming that your child is brought up on are going to define what morals he/she inculcates. Because today, media and movies influence children more than parents do.
Coming up next. My take on parenting for the 2000s. He He!