Don’t Watch Me, I’m an Escapism

You can (and possible dread, at some point) escape reality and television is one way for you to have that sort of thrill.

Before cinemas or other types of recreational act shows up, television provides that certain perspective of an issue to our daily basis. Be it about political affairs, lifestyles, even gossips. To some, television is the bearer of news while others find that it fills the background noises on your living room at night.

It probably crossed your mind to mirror your desire to what’s in television, because sometimes I do too. Deep down, though, you know it’s just bits of scripted situations (except for news). In some cases, television can be a misleading tool to the masses if not used properly.

Today people drift online to watch film and watch news station on cable networks. They’re safer for children and more reliable for adults. Content is responsible for both. Contents of a media determines quality thus formed society’s line of thoughts. In return, people behind television looking back at society and take interesting bits to put in.

Time is relative when you go online. Due to our constant exposure to the internet, we are easily influenced by our choice of programs to watch. Western part of the world have done it since 1940s and now we can access it through YouTube. Hell, you can even find hijab tutorials in there as well. USA have developed programs long enough for generations to accustomed to especially at night like Tonight Shows, Late Night Shows, etc.

It’s really ideal, yes. If you live in America.

In Indonesia? We watch Turkish or Indian soap operas, sometimes even local soap operas about a porridge vendor going for a hajj. There are also television programs tailored to appeal the viewers’ sympathy, by showing how difficult it is to live in Jakarta. Some network televises foreign movies with dubbing or subtitles.

Those are the shows dominated the nightly time of television today, as I have looked the ratings and shares of television programs from 20th – 26th of March this year.

These preferences didn’t appear overnight. In 2009, New York Times have compiled that Indonesians embraced American-styled reality television. Reality show have been around for a couple of years, but it dominated around 2008 according to AGB Nielsen Media Research. Nielsen tracked 11 Indonesian national station and 10 local stations. They scored high on all social and economic categories, especially around affluent viewers  in the city.

Head of Central KPI, Judhariksawan alongside president Joko Widodo when met with head of mass media, explicitly stated few important note to the head of state regarding qualities of television programs. Judha point out that rating has been the hub of quality television. A network would keep a show producing high ratings despite its quality and/or effect on society.

Many complaints filed in to KPI’s website displays the inability of television networks to produce programs that contain Indonesians’ culture and value, and instead play upon pop culture and current celebrity issue. No longer is television about desire, it drowns us out in the sea of irrelevance.

If we are to focus on one Indonesian aspect of togetherness, maybe those programs can be a ground for little talks or conversation. But really, watching it for inspiration? Good luck with that.

Though before we dwell in further, we have to know what it is that makes a show unappealingly bad, quality-wise. KPI said that we as a viewer have to be able to segregate it out by forming the Broadcasting  and Program Code of Conduct (P3SPS).

And that is resulted in this: the record of KPI ever making a complaint started in 2012, and ever since there has been at least 10000 complaints made towards television shows and news programs. We can access all of that online.

Look, we know there are some terrible shows out there but we can’t actually ask its owners to make something else in a blink of an eye. They have done this for so long until we are used to it showing on our telly. Even some of us can make out an agenda out of a show, but we can’t be up against its effects.


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