Sin or Swim

March 17, 2017
Zara Maqbool

Orange Room Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, in New York, NY (Rebecca Davis / TODAY)

By: Zara Maqbool

Last night I had the misfortune of coming across a morning show. I had the choice of quickly changing the channel but the unexplainable and obnoxious dance number taking place made my fingers powerless to change the channel. Also the deadline of submitting a blog breathing down my neck every week piqued my interest that this had a story somewhere. A transgender was dancing in the most vulgar fashion accompanied by girls and boys taking the torture further. What was absolutely wrong with the whole picture was thinking that if a transgender is dancing, it’s acceptable. You could see the host laughing and having a good time at his expense, which I think was in such a bad taste. These hosts who are highly paid and given so many hours of screen time should have some sense of responsibility for what image are they portraying of Pakistan. Apparently ratings are high due to such trashy material but then has TV become a totally commercial business too?

There is no end to what all needs to improve within our country whether it is education or health sector or generally the state of affairs as far as security is concerned. But I fail to understand what is the role of PEMRA when it comes to censorship and checks and balance. PEMRA has the authority to impose restrictions in the interest of religion and is responsible for improving the standards of information, education and entertainment. So where do morning shows like these fit in? Not only do they lack information and entertainment, my conservative streak screams out against the indecency.

I would also like to highlight the recent development, where an Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge has called for a ban on social media sites in Pakistan, to curb the spread of ‘blasphemous’ images online. I totally support that strict action should be taken against the perpetrators of blasphemy against the Prophet but punishing an entire society’s right to stay aligned with the rest of the world through social media is preposterous, as if we are not falling behind the rest of the world in so many ways already.

Also those who have self-appointed themselves to guard the religious sanctity of our country need to protest against a lot more. The material being presented on our morning show needs some serious looking into.

Our majority of women which includes homemakers and who are the central force in a home are learning irrelevant things. Looking at designer clad hosts and their constant repetitive programs on how to look good not only creates resentment and inadequacy but further reinforces the difference between the classes.

I recently watched a program where an actor comes and has to select between three girls as his bride. They have to answer his questions, cook for him and try to impress him to see if they can come up to his expectations. What happened to being responsible? What kind of culture are we promoting on national TV? Why do we keep strengthening age-old belief systems? How about calling a lady and three grooms to see if they fit the bill?

There are many other covert messages that are being spread like slow poison across the masses teaching them a different set of norms and values to what ours is.

A couple of actresses spent an entire morning show displaying their summer shopping. Seriously? Can we more blatantly rub into people’s faces that we get to travel and the majority cannot afford to?

I am sure if a survey is done, the majority of our women will support the content of these morning shows but then its like being conditioned to watch and like a certain kind of entertainment. Why not try to evolve and come up with more substantial matter to educate these women who spend their entire morning mindfully watching TV? Here is a captive audience who is the backbone of our society and we waste that precious time telling them how to look good and cook well, when all day cooking is what they do and these beauty tips would further frustrate them as many have financial constraints and lack of time. Also why should looks be such an important area of concern anyways and which further objectifies a woman.


So I plead to these mornings shows to move out of their typical thinking and try to empower these ladies rather than helping them to regress further in their thinking!