I was wrestling with my mother last evening for the TV remote. Discouraging words were spoken by me (“what people get out of watching Pakistanis cry, I will never understand”) as well as her (“great! more kung fu and sword fighting and blood”). In the middle of it all, I found that there was an insight to be had in the middle of it all.
It wasn’t a ‘Family Drama’ vs ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ debate. It was a Hope vs Hopelessness debate.
Broadly speaking, I find our weepy TV soap operas (yes, even Pakistani variants of them) focused on loss and suffering. People are being treated unfairly, they are crying, their friends are consoling them, more shit is happening, somebody gets shot, someone else gets unfairly framed for it, more crying follows… you get the picture.
When we flip the channel and focus our attention on my Kung Fu Fighting flick, there is suffering as well. People are stabbed, whacked, thrown across the marketplace, and even struck unconscious. But underlying it all is a sense that “this is not over yet”. The one who has been smacked down will rise again, the wronged bride will have her vengeance, the virtuous fighter hero whose thigh is bleeding will fly back with a swirling kick that will restore order to the universe.
After all is said and done, the soap opera is more violent than the Kung Fu flick because it it involves the defeat of the human spirit. The Kung Fu flick is not about the stabbing, the jabbing, and the bleeding – it is about the return of the one who went down.
I like tragedy. I just dont like tragedy being the defining characteristic of life. I like to look down the dusty lanes of life and see a figure coming back for what is owed to him.
But perhaps that is just me.