How TV ads turned us into a nation of voyeurs

ROHIT BATNI writes from Bangalore: Lately, watching TV at home has become synonymous to watching ‘public undressing’ performances most of the time.

TV today is giving birth to more voyeurs in this society than anything else ever did. It is sad that creativity has lost all its colors and reserved itself to blue!

With advertisements restricted to 20% of the TV airtime per-hour, advertisers are pushed to the limit of retaining viewer attention, and resorting to ‘public undressing’ seems to be their way-out?

Watching these lewd visuals have gradually come to being an acceptable ritual in the living room. What used to be earlier a taboo to even talk about has suddenly become the tea-time pastime for a good portion of the TV market.

And this very society is now plagued by rapes and other heinous crimes. These behavior changes sponsored by the market forces are not doing any good to us at all.

Clearly, as a society, you cannot undress in public (on- or off-screen) and not be plagued by crime at the same time! We’ve got to choose between these two.

There’s absolutely no logic in daring the opposite sex by taking them to the limit of hormonal tests by means of these public undressing performances.

Likewise there’s no logic in questioning the integrity of people when there’s no way of separating the ones with integrity from the ones without it.

It is enough trouble if each city has one rapist at large.

But on similar lines demanding capital punishment to anyone that commits this crime, however heinous, doesn’t help alleviate the problem. A judicial precedent means nothing for a mind that is weak enough to become criminal.

Rapid, unplanned and unsustainable urbanization has triggered unforeseen migration at national levels, leading to unhealthy inter-personal relations in an otherwise well-connected society, also causing a perceivable plummet in average moral values among dwellers.

Viral consumerism, considered quintessential to running any urbanized settlement, has blinded the average citizen to the ill-effects of such sponsored behavior changes in a society.

The aberration between market and society faced by common man makes him miss the big picture – that he is being modified (from within) in the pretext of being captured better by market forces. Even to the extent of approving the inappropriate and making their societies breeding grounds for criminals.

Although a weird one, this is a comparison I find convincing always – crime is like a river, with not a single clear source of its birth, innumerable tributaries contributing to its growth, all headed towards one common destination: an out-pour of the darkness out of oneself.

This state-of-mind called crime cannot be culled by an act of law, instead it should be culled by an act of collective conscious minds.

In fact drawing from experiences of various people in the same society, it can even be deduced that penal laws constructed out of similar compelling situations (viz., Sec 498A IPC) have only jeopardized harmony in the society and paved new avenues for corruption of the human mind.

Like it is said, in the case of Sec 498A, it has heralded new ways of exposing the lowest levels of the executive & judiciary to corruption, who had been deprived of the benefits of erstwhile penal laws.

Hence, in the interest of public welfare, it would be prudent of the youth to not take up the cudgels for compelling the legislature to play a blind-game.

Instead the same youth had rather display their collective sense and strength in warding off spirits in the market that, in the name of consumerism, convince people to even approve vulgarity such as ‘public undressing’.

Being a better informed customer is as important today as being a better informed citizen. Let us not build unnecessary fortresses of legislation when we can prevent such a need by being a better informed customer.

Also view: The commodification of women

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15 Responses to “How TV ads turned us into a nation of voyeurs”

  1. Vinay Says:

    I don’t know what point you are trying to make here?

    This is yet another asinine piece. Blaming “market” and “consumerism” for rapes.

    Drivel and utter nonsense. Bullshit.

  2. Deepak Says:

    We have eminent newspapers like TOI which want a total ban on dress code in colleges and will be thrilled to print photos of college girls in revealing dresses. We have eminent film makers like Mahesh Bhatt who thinks Sunny Leone is the role model for women in India.

    With such eminent types ruling the roost, women will keep getting commodified day in and day out. The likes of Mahesh Bhatt titillate by exploiting women and then come out with philosophic homilies about protecting women!! We have become a sick society!!

  3. narayana, narayana! Says:

    Agree that the ad industry has crossed the limits of decency, of titillating people with these undressing scenes and high time that there be self-regulation or Censor Board must step in by rejecting such ads.

  4. chidu22 Says:

    If you don’t want to watch then you may switch channels or switch to BBC which has no ads. Blaming media for everything is to not accept any self regulation or responsibility.

  5. Vinay Says:

    Personally, I think this entire article is a huge pile of gas with long-winded and pompously worded language. One can hardly make out what the author’s point is. Aside from the fact that he wants women to show less skin on TV, I really fail to understand what else he wanted to convey in his long article.

  6. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Rohit Batni,
    The only undressing that I see is the working of your shallow mind! What’s your point dude! Switch to other channels if you cannot watch these ‘public undressing’ as you call it! Go watch National Geographic channel to learn the mating ways of the Gorillas or something! You sound like a ‘Khadi Nirodh’ patriot who is against viewing women on TV!

  7. Rastrakoota Says:

    No clue wat this piece is intending to tell! Load of Crap!

  8. Rohith Says:

    Vinay & Doddi Buddi,
    I can understand the heat in your minds when you typed in your comments on this page. And I do feel you need your own times to cool your heels after what all we’ve seen happening in Delhi in this matter. “Khadi nirodh” joke well taken. I am not against viewing women on TV. I wonder what makes you think women cannot appear on TV without doing the undressing act. Its out of scope here, of course, if one actually logs on to watch only such content on TV – you’re in for a treat then!!

    As always, responses such as yours have exposed the similar mindset one gets to see in many a protester out there in Delhi. Getting a conviction for the rapist is never going to solve the problem. There’re capital punishments given out for various crimes in India, but has that brought down such crimes by any degree? Solution to problems (related to crime) usually dont rest in attacking the individual involved in the crime, but in addressing the mind of the criminal and the roots that relate to the formation of this mindset called crime.

    It is only in a Utopian society that one can imagine all men to be fair as Vinay, Doddi Buddi or me and say that vulgarity on TV doesn’t have anything to do with such heinous crimes.

    It is stupidity to think that because our heads are tough we can crack big boulders using them.

    As you may notice, this article is not ‘supporting’ rape anywhere, if that is of any solace to your minds. It is only giving another perspective of why rapes are rampant in a society which is being exposed to a combination of two contemporary factors – much deeper multimedia reach-out (TV, radio, mobile, cinema, even internet etc.) than the last few decades, and infinitely higher proportion of public undressing in these shows.

    Yes, this article expresses an urgent need to curb such acts of vulgarity in public (through informed consumer voices) and changing the channel is exactly what it is indirectly calling for. That is a very strong consumer move, but that needs to happen with an informed thought process in the background. A thought about what those ADs are actually trying to achieve by such commodification of women, and what impact they are having on our societies in the long run.

  9. Vinay Says:


    Thank you for your detailed reply.

    Basically I have a problem with blaming things like “scantily clad women in ads” for issues like rape. Rape in India has been happening all the while, even in the Doordarshan era. We have been hearing about mass rapes as “caste war punishments”, judgements by Khap panchayats decreeing “rape” as a punishment for eloping, and so on, from decades now. Remember what happened to Phoolan Devi, and to countless others like her. Think of what has been happening in the tribal districts of the country for decades.

    Mohan Bhagwat’s comment today morning that “rapes happen in India and not Bharat” is an asinine statement to make. The reality is that rapes have been occurring in “Bharat” too, but those are always ignored. There is a massive hue and cry only when someone from “Bharat” rapes someone from “India”. No one cares when a man from “Bharat” rapes a woman from “Bharat”. You are making a similar mistake.

    Vulgarity on TV is hardly anything to worry about really – even rural areas these days have a dozen “cyber cafes” where horny young rural men go and watch porn. Even before the internet era in India, all “pan shops” used to sell “porn magazines” in every city and town in India. Your prescription hardly makes sense in that context.

    I agree with you that knee-jerk demands for “tougher laws” are not going to help. The real issue is with the implementation of laws by the police. Execution is the issue. But then your diagnosis of the problem (the “root cause” as you call it) is completely incorrect.

  10. Gundaa Says:

    Mr. Rohit, If these ads could make you a voyeur or a rapist then you need to be admitted to a mental hospital. The problem here is the culture. Indian men should get raped too for being assholes.

  11. Rohith Says:

    Thanks for your response as well. But in your comment I see that you’re describing a clear set of reasons for rape in various contexts and at various times in history, and the present. What you need to see in your comment is that as times change, people seem to have matured from getting excited by porn magazines to video games and later to real flesh (the Phoolan devi example).

    The fact that Doordarshan era also saw rapes happening doesn’t rule out the impact of even more scantily clad women on a daily basis could have on a changed male class of Bharat or India. You’re right in saying that scantily clad women on TV “should not” be the reason for rapes & other crimes happening in our society, but that, as I said, is something one can expect in a Utopian society. When there’s hardly anyway of measuring a man’s real character and its strength, it makes no sense in making a blanket statement ruling out such a closely related reason behind such mysterious crimes.

  12. Drangons Says:

    I couldn’t read the entire article as i couldn’t understand your point. But reading the first paragraph, I wish to say this –
    You really have a problem if the soap ads in t.v causes relate rape

  13. Nastika Says:

    (1) Before all, your prose is difficult to read since you are going around the bush, instead of calling the wolf, a wolf. I guess you wanted to say atrocities on women is due to poor (less) dressing of women on TV. Isn’t it?

    (2) You talk about 498A IPC (Dowry law). But the arguments against it are not concrete. From Wikipedia, why it is bad:
    * Gender Bias againt men
    * Vague definitions of dowry and stridhan
    * Presumption of guilt of men
    * Duplication of existing laws. Laws already exist to deal with offences against intimidation, violence, extortion and murder.
    * Corruption in the police force, which often does no investigation before arresting innocent people.
    * Human rights violations
    * No penalties for false complaints or perjury.
    * Often gifts offered by the bride’s parents to win over the bridegroom are channelized into a dowry tunnel

    (3) I don’t find anything voyeur or anything alarming in the 2 videos you have posted.

    (4) Unlike you say, rapes, heinous crimes and such behavior is *not* sponsored by the market forces. Rapes are embedded in history. After any war, the women folks were raped by the victor. Rape is not a recent phenomenon. Actually women are more empowered in last 50 years than anytime in history of India.

    (5) Rapes happen on ‘helpless’ women (even if she is draped in 50 yards of clothes). Dress of women is irrelevant. So just give freedom to people to wear whatever they want.
    If dress protects from rape, then Afghanistan under Taliban must had been the safest place for women.

    Finally, having strict content censoring on TV, movie & Internet doesn’t achieve anything, as long as people feel they can get away with crime.


  14. Vinay Says:


    Well put. I was going to type a reply to his latest post but didn’t have the patience. You’ve expressed everything I wanted to say.

  15. Nastika Says:

    @Vinay, thanks the feedback & great to see a positive one.

    @ROHIT BATNI, you are not alone. BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP also feels so:

    “ಇತ್ತೀಚೆಗೆ ಟಿವಿ ಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಬಿತ್ತರವಾಗುವ ಕೆಲ ಚಲನಚಿತ್ರಗಳನ್ನು ಕುಟುಂಬ ಸದಸ್ಯರ ಸಮೇತ ವೀಕ್ಷಣೆ ಮಾಡುವುದು ಅಸಾಧ್ಯ ಎಂಬಂತಾಗಿದೆ. ಸಾಕಷ್ಟು ಮುಜುಗರ ಉಂಟಾಗುತ್ತದೆ.

    ಅದರಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ಕೆಲ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮಗಳ ಟಿವಿ ಆ್ಯಂಕರ್‌ಗಳನ್ನು ನೋಡಿದರೆ ಅವರು ಕೂಡ ಅತ್ಯಾಚಾರಕ್ಕೆ ಕಾರಣಕರ್ತರೇ? ಎಂಬ ಅನುಮಾನ ಕಾಡುತ್ತದೆ.

    ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮ ನೋಡುವವರು ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮ ಬಿಟ್ಟು ಅವರನ್ನೇ ನೋಡುವಂತಾಗಿರುತ್ತದೆ ಎಂದು ಆ್ಯಂಕರ್‌ಗಳು ತೊಡುವ ಬಟ್ಟೆಯ ಕುರಿತಂತೆ ಆಯನೂರು ಮಂಜುನಾಥ್ಪ ರೋಕ್ಷ ಅಸಮಾಧಾನ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಪಡಿಸಿದರು.”

    Read more:


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