Let's face it: 'A' rated content is no longer a 'Western' or 'English' phenomenon. It is very much present in the daily Hindi soaps that are aired right into our drawing rooms.
This week, our surfers came up with a very interesting debate on what exactly constitutes 'Adult' content. While they were aware of the fact that inappropriate content is shown even in India, our surfers opined that there is no point trying to ban such shows. The reason being that there are other ways of looking for titillation and erotic pleasures.
Kshitij from Bangalore set the ball rolling. He wrote: "I think an 'A' rating is too broad a parameter to quantify inappropriate stuff shown on TV or movies. Guidelines should be made to further breakdown an A rating into A+ or an A++. This is because I would not prefer my younger brother to be deprived of a good movie like Kaante or Omkara, just because it's marked 'A'."
Agreeing with him was Diya from Mumbai who said: "These days, there's so much content that's offensive, that there should be parameters that further define adult content."
Pratibha K from Cambridge, USA, had a similar take.
"There are no standardized guidelines to define adult content. Having defined parameters would greatly help in ensuring appropriate viewership and a sense of fairness, and also avoid stifling creativity in media. Secondly, the titles U and A convey very little information by themselves, and do not help educate the audience about their choices. A more defined measurement scale (like G, PG13, M and R ratings) instead of a blanket A or U category would help people make more informed choices about what they want to watch, and also help parents decide better about how they want to present and explore various issues with their children."
Then there were a set of viewers who said that a fuss was unnecessarily being created about 'adult' content and all that.
Vinod from Cochin in Kerala led this group. He said:
"It's just that we Indians make a big deal out of it. We are not open to sex like the westerners, but it is there in every preachers mind. The only difference is that westerners do sex in the open and admit it,while Indians do it hidden, then try to be saints. This is because we lack the understanding and necessity of sex education. If you go to a video library in any western countries you can see a separate section for explicit adult movies, which is open to the public. Whereas in India it is a crime and taboo to rent such movies. Sometimes we forget that we Indians are more addictive to sex than any other people. Remember that the Kamasutra belongs to India."
Mandira from Texas was next. This is what she wrote: "Why do we make such a hullabaloo about erotic content? I think it is because in India, sex is such a taboo topic. And sex education is still unthought of in the educational curriculum. If movies and TV shows are supposed to reflect real life, then why can they not show erotic content as well? Do we not indulge in sex in real life? I hate to say this, but Indians are a hypocritical lot of people. They preach something and practice something else."
Ashley from Delhi had an interesting take on the issue. He said: "Don't rapes take place in India at an alarming rate? And don't youngsters indulge in sexual acts even in school? Then why this fuss about movies showing erotic content? I mean, we people can do whatever we want, it is the showing of it that is the problem."
Countering this opinion was a group of people who said that innocent youngsters, who were still unaware of sex and its ramifications would undoubtedly be affected by watching adult content, and so such movies and TV shows must be discouraged.
Malashree, a mother of two, wrote in from Dehra Dun. She said: "How can I allow my kids to watch the nonsense that is shown on TV these days? Even the so-called harmless saas-bahu soaps have offensive content. So it is my strong view that such content must be banned from India altogether."
Aman Varma from Delhi echoed the same view. He said: "How can I give my kids a chance of growing up as innocent, pure children, until and unless offensive and unsuitable content is banned from Indian screens? It is easy for us to say that kids today are as sexually aware as adults. Do we ever give them a chance to be otherwise?"
Tannisha, a 25 year-old from Mumbai, was surprisingly 'adult' in her response. She said: "Adult contents are strictly against the Indian ethos. I hate to see the youth wasting their time on frivolities like sex and sleaze." Wow!
Now for the numbers.
A whopping 255 people said 'A' content to them meant explicit sexual content. 40 people said it meant bigamy and other 'distorted' behaviour. 30 people on the other hand, said 'A' content meant double meanings and sexually-overlaid content.
Again, the majority (198) were sure that erotic content was no longer restricted to the Western world. 36 people still equated 'A' content with the West, while 91 people were unsure.
Not surprisingly, 132 people said Indian soaps which showed a husband two-timing his wife were undoubtedly adult. 106 people said that it was not really 'adult', at least you could watch it without squirming. 87 people said they were not sure.
Interestingly, 151 people said they had no problems with adult contents being shown free-for-all. 98 people claimed to be indifferent to the issue, while only 76 said it was not a good trend to show adult content in an unrestricted atmosphere.
Again, the majority of our surfers (209 of them) said that a government ban on such content would be a silly move. 66 people said it would be a good idea, while 50 claimed to be unsure.
In an interesting confession, a great many of our surfers (238) said they were as comfortable with 'A' rated movies as with 'U' rated ones. Only, they would watch the former only with friends and the latter with family. 56 people said they would only watch 'U' rated movies, while 31 said they would watch only 'A' rated ones!
Whatever be the individual preferences, our surfers were candid in their responses. Like Debashish from Dibrugarh said: "I'll watch whatever I want, thankyou!"
Vox populi will be back next week with another debate. Till then, happy surfing!