The debate on twitter, some time back, on the subject of kids on Junior MasterChef Australia was an interesting one to watch. I have no definitive opinion on it, and I understand that it can be debated both ways. So, just a few perspectives.
I watched the show for a few days, and was amazed by the skill displayed by the kids. I also found the judges being very careful with their words. (they can be scathing as the ‘regular’ MasterChef show would prove) The kids seemed to be having fun. I don’t know if the elimination grind got to them. I don’t know how the entire experience would affect them – irrespective of them being winners or losers.
What I do think is that in many ways, the show is preparing these kids for the world – for making choices, (I’m reasonably sure none of them have been forced to come here) chasing a passion, the consequences – winning and losing, fame and despair, public scrutiny and the loss of privacy, dealing with judgments passed by others and so on. And that goes for all sorts of reality shows – dance shows with scantily clad kids included. Any opinion I have against dance shows is a judgment based on my baggage, and objectively, I can’t be sure that dancing (of any kind in any attire) < cooking. I could be flawed in my rationale, but that’s like saying Vidya Balan’s performance in The Dirty Picture is somehow lesser than Sanjeev Kapoor’s erm, Dal Makhani.
I am not a parent, so I can only talk from the perspective of a child that I once was. We didn’t have reality television then, but we had non televised competitions, and I have been a participant. Music, debate, hockey, quizzing, cricket, dumb charades – I’ve represented my school/college in all of these. I was lucky enough to be encouraged in most of these (very few got the point of Dumb C ) by my parents and teachers. I can only dimly imagine the sacrifices my parents might have made for letting me pursue these and my other indulgences – voracious reading, for example.
I do believe that most parents want the best for their children, though the way they show it could be seen and judged in different ways. Parents have no inkling of what the world will become, though they pretend to. They make choices based on their experiences, their perspectives of the future, and their desires for their children. I have a choice to make now too – I could blame my parents for not making me focus completely on studies. (for example) Who knows, I might have gotten in and out of an IIT/M and might have finally written a book. Or I could be thankful for the choices they made for me, and for the experiences that gave me. I, for one, am indeed thankful, and think that these paths gave me valuable perspectives – with regards to all the ‘preparation for the world’ points I had listed earlier. There can be no A/B testing for all this, you realise.
The fun part is that somewhere along the way, I started writing a bit. This blog has been around for more than 9 years, I write 2 newspaper columns. I haven’t been trained for any of this. Whether the story has a fairy tale ending is completely subjective and dependent on many factors that are beyond the parents’ or the child’s control, or imagination. The parents and the children are living some great moments. Perhaps that’s all there is to it.
until next time, show stopper