To say that media and the million soaps that TV brings to our homes everyday has a profound impact on society, would of course, be the grossest understatement ever. Interesting however, is, why it has this effect and at such a scale.

Take hindi serials for example. Most of them are part of the ever growing K-family. Most depict huge and very rich joint families where the men all work in the family business and most of the women sit at home, form teams against each other and hatch plans of doom. The woman who goes to work, is , in all probability the vamp. The prototype vamp has her own custom background score, she makes fashon statements with wierd makeup and more wierd innovations to the traditional sari or salwar kameez.
Its a woman's world inside the idiot box. They fight, they bicker and they bring justice to the world. Men are props, often confused bungling souls who have no clue why they are there and when their characters are going to be killed or when they are going to be brought miraculously back to life, almost always with amnesia and in the vamp's house.

Ask the average viewer why they watch these soaps and they say they "identify" with the characters. Identify with who? Is the real world a woman's world? In the real world will the bungling male let the more intelligent female take charge and make decisions?

They identify with, Ba being sympathetic to Tulsi. They identify with Savitha or Tulsi ( depending on which side of the line they are) even as both the characters fight over Mihir and they identify with Tulsi's wrath when Mandira tries to "steal" him. They identify, also, with Parvati feeling angry at the "other woman", not saying a word to Om and leaving the house and of course with all the puja Shaina does to keep Kunal away from Ramola's evil eye.

Its strange however that stronger points like Tulsi standing up for her daughter-in-law in a lawsuit accusing her son of raping the daughter-in-law recieves no such "identification".Parvati's support for her daughter, turning them against the whole family recieves no such applause either.

Worse by far, is this tamil soap portraying a family of 5 sisters and their widower father. Each of them is married and each has a different kind of marital problem.A middle class set up periliously close to the average urban middle class family. A set up which almost all of the tamil speaking population identified with. Disastrous because it portrays the woman as the typical "pativrata" who will spend all her life crying in a household that shows her no respect, with a husband that couldn't care less and will beat her up at every possible opportunity. People freely spewing dialogues that ,translated, go something like " Your education has spoilt you". She will take it all, cry lots of silent tears, bear his children and get beaten some more for not bearing a son.Another will show a very smart divorcee , smart enough to run a business of her own but still reduced to tears because she is not with her "husband" any more.

Essentially media slots all humans into three types of people. Men,"good" women and "bad" women.Three distinct species, the women-kind fighting for who the Men will listen to. A media student ,an ardent fan of all the above mentioned soaps, found herself locking horns with me. On being asked why media never tires of dishing out such trash she simply said " Because it sells". Point taken. Don't you think , as mass media , with so much impact, you should be thinking of something that would also help society grow? She stared at me with a blank expression on her face, trying to suppress the irritation she was probably feeling by now and said as simply as before " No, that won't sell".