Racism Row : A Popularity Stunt Gone Bad?
Vaibhav Arora | 19 Jan 2007

REALITY SHOWS ABOUND on television these days, and why not, they successfully keep you hooked to the idiot box (or may be not so these days with all the enlightening stuff to feast your brains with) like buzzing bees to a luscious fruit. Though a new concept for Indian television, these so called real life dramas are not a new affair for the overseas audience, with shows like American Idol, Amazing Race and Temptation Island becoming a craze with the viewers and earning millions of dollars for its producers. Naturally, the producers and the participants resort to some or the other things to boost up the TRP ratings, stuff which includes everything from creating fake conflicts amongst the participants to introducing surprise guests (like John Abraham in Big Boss) to add that extra bit of tinge and spice.
Big Brother, a reality show broadcasted on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom joined the bandwagon a few years ago and has since been one of the most watched reality shows in the entire country. It became the hot topic for the Indian masses with the introduction of Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, as a celebrity participant along with few of the other ’white’ celebrities, and more so after Shilpa accused her co-participants of abusing her on racist grounds. The issue has become the topic of debate for people all over India and the United Kingdom since, and channel 4 has received thousands of letters seeking apology for the injustice done to the Indian film star. What may have been intended to be a popularity stunt to gain a few more TRP points became a bone in the throat for the sponsors with the biggest patron pulling its hand back from the sponsorship suggesting and claiming that it had nothing to do with supporting racism. The thought of a popularity stunt gone bad is empowered more so by the fact that Shilpa Shetty has now went back on her accusations of her being made a victim of racism.
The row over racism might subside down in a few days time but one thing is for sure, in future channels will have to think hundreds of times before carrying out any such popularity stunts that may go bad and instead of earning those few more bucks for them gains a whole lot of unwanted publicity.