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From Tariq Aziz Show to Jeeto Pakistan: A Tale of Social Degradation

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Television viewers have started equating popular television game show Jeeto Pakistan to a game of Roulette played in casinos, an equation which is both amusing yet worrisome for the observant lot.

The above argument stresses that these shows act as a viable alternative to gambling, which is counted as an illegal activity in a country like Pakistan. The only difference, perhaps, is that in these game shows, people are required to put their dignity at stake instead of money.

These fancy-named shows, which promote capitalism and consumer products that otherwise remain out of range of an average person, is a poor spin-off of quiz shows like the famous Neelam Ghar, which was later renamed the Tariq Aziz Show. It is difficult to pass any judgment on something that certain people find entertaining and rewarding, but a critical analysis of this increasingly growing industry is the need of the time.

These television game shows frequently feature renowned celebrities as hosts who act more like kings. They not only distribute material goods among needy people but also enjoy a great discretion in giving away less expensive consumer products like ovens, cycles, branded clothes and washing machines.

For a dignified person these takeaways would seem like peanuts, but not for the people participating in these shows.

Many viewers can also vouch for the fact that these gifts are given away at the expense of utter public humiliation that some people have to face on-air. The argument that they have an informed choice and voluntarily sign-up for these shows is weak since these television programmes specifically target a certain class of society which may be enticed to participate in the show and earn the television channels good ratings.

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These game shows are designed to be addictive, and probably this is why they have a large viewership. Many channels have started launching their own shows of this sort, quickly responding to the demand of viewers. But one may question what is wrong with this kind of entertainment and is it an implicit type of moral correctness when we see such shows critically? The answer is in the negative.

Shows like the Tariq Aziz Show were developed to be interactive and informative shows with quiz competitions based on general knowledge, which rewarded the persons who could provide the maximum number of right answers. Also, the rewards would also increase with varying difficulty levels.

It is not to say that the Tariq Aziz Show had no lame moments, such as giving away gifts to someone in the audience who, for instance, had a napkin of a specific color with them. The idea was to celebrate very odd occurrences, which would come as a total surprise for the viewers.

Unlike the above show, contemporary entertainment shows not only mock the miseries of people in demeaning ways, it also tries to portray it as a form of charity, which is extremely disturbing.

As we all know, it is nothing but a tool of marketing for the brands that sponsor these programmes, under the pretext of spreading happiness among the people. Also, it has little to no respect for the elderly participants or those who are more expressive and desirous of taking something home.

The round in which a contestant has to open random boxes filled with gold often involves the advice of the host to the participant as to which of the boxes should be opened and which should be left alone. The participants also have an additional option of quitting the show. In case of non-compliance (because the participant is skeptical of the host’s opinion) and a consequent loss, a feeling of regret is not only instilled in the mind of the participant, but also the viewers.

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Such shows also have a huge psychological impact on the viewers and audiences because these promote a culture of chance, total luck, effortless rewards and overnight success among the public, in rather nuanced ways.

People are encouraged to publicly expose themselves to an unfriendly behaviour in order to get monetary benefits, rather than valuing hard-work. It acts as a smokescreen to the complexes that people with fewer means have developed in connection with mindless consumerism.

There is a great need for us to re-examine our definitions and choices of happiness and contentment, especially when it comes to our television programmes. The disparity which becomes evident in such shows is far from entertainment.

It is a sad reality which is in need of our attention, and not our addiction. The same moral question should be asked from the media which promotes its image as the champion of freedom and advancement in Pakistan, with celebrities and stars standing at their service to make fun of people’s desires. Let us pledge to have this debate in our private gatherings, in case the media cannot afford to give airtime to such topics on the platforms that they run.

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