The Colonized Television Culture

The symbiotic relationship of television and culture is ubiquitous and so apodictic that it engendered the “Television Culture”. Television culture has not only become a crucial and integral part of our culture but also has acted like a mirror reflecting our cultural customs, norms, mores and values since its inception. Therefore, television shows have been responsible for promoting and preaching our culture to our next generations along with representing and familiarizing the entire world with our culture.

Contemporarily, television is a great source of entertainment as well as of information however, it has also been a significant source of comfort previously in the stressful times of post-World War II such as Vietnam war and Cuban Missile Crisis. In USA, escapist television was introduced based on domestic comedy offered by fantasy sitcoms, neglecting the current stressful and political issues and events of that time. Later on, the television shows reflected the changing social attitudes on grounds of the changing social consciousness which eventually led to the establishment of myriads of news and entertainment channels.

On the other hand, the inception of Pakistani television channels was quite late and the early programs were usually live due to the lack of recording equipment. Perhaps, this was the reason why many Western shows, movies and cartoons would air on Pakistani television channels. Pakistan Television Corporation aka PTV, the first Pakistani television channel would broadcast English programs regularly which depicts how Pakistani television culture was contaminated with colonialism since its foundation. Back then it could be justified because Pakistan was a newly developed country with not much resources and organizations but it was pivotal to have a way to cope with the blood-curdling losses and sacrifices that Pakistanis made to achieve freedom.

Colonialism invaded the very genesis of Pakistani television culture however, it was compulsory to eventually steer clear of foreign shows from Pakistani channels. Unfortunately, as crucial as it was, we couldn’t fumigate our television culture and sadly instead on investing in our own television programs we started embracing and copying foreign shows. This is the reason why we have dubbed Turkish dramas and third-copies of American shows currently. Sadly, every child grows up and reaches his adolescence watching Western cartoons since Pakistan doesn’t have its own cartoon channels. Therefore, our minds, lifestyles and ultimately our culture has been substantially affected and influenced by the Western world.

It has been discerned that television shows not merely nurture but also influence culture and this make television shows an invincible weapon possessing the potential to alter and completely demolish cultures. Such an approach is responsible for our current mutilated culture. We have only ourselves to be blamed for this because in this postcolonial era, when the white man has exiled himself from our land long ago, we have self-imposed mental slavery on ourselves. We have accepted our defeat without even participating in the battle and this is the reason why we worship the Western lifestyle and culture, dismissing our indigeneity and feeling ashamed of our own culture.

In my recent article, “Erase or Embrace? Postcolonialism: A Struggle Against the Eternal Slavery!”[1]  I have explained this entire thing in these exact words: “We are obliquely imposing colonialism on our next generations by allowing our own potential to stay suppressed while we cherish the Western customs which have invaded our land and discourses. Parents take pride in their children talking fluent English, watching English channels and it’s the priority of every parent that their children attend English medium schools.

The reason behind is ostensible; we are suffering from the inferiority complex. We are ashamed to be Pakistanis and this is the reason why almost every Pakistani residing in a foreign country hides his true nationality. They are scared to be recognized as someone who has such strong ties to this land. We are not confident. We are not aware of our true potential because we are too busy admiring the Western world all the time that we are forever comparing ourselves with them, even on a subconscious level because whenever we say “Yehan assa nhi hota. Ye America ya Europe nhi Pakistan hai.” (This is not how it’s done here. This is not America or Europe, this is Pakistan.) we are unwittingly comparing ourselves to them. This comparison needs to be stopped because it makes us feel inferior and we start admiring and copying them instead of doing our own thing and witnessing the magic of our potential.

Contemporary Pakistani shows like “Pakistan Idol” and “Peekaboo Shahwiz” are a copy of American shows and these shows are pathetic and nothing in front of our original Pakistani TV shows so it shows how we copying them like a maniac will only drag us down. Yes, we should follow the good things they have but we shouldn’t lose our own identity and potential in copying them. […] Almost every decolonial spadework suggests to liberate the higher education sector from the burden of colonized discourses but in my opinion decolonizing the higher education domain isn’t going to be much effective because by the time a person reaches that stage, his mind has already been shaped by the colonized discourse as every child watches Western cartoons and shows. This is why they know about their culture but not ours. Every child knows about Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Christmas etc. but they aren’t aware of their own culture and traditions. Decolonization of discourse is indeed requisite but decolonizing the culture is of the same significance. Decolonization and indigenization must go hand in hand.”

Television culture is undeniably a mirror that reflects cultural values along with influencing and propagating a society’s culture however, if contaminated, it can alter and even abolish cultures entirely. Consequently, television shows are such a powerful part of literature that possess the power to control, manifest and destroy cultures. Technology and especially internet globalized our world. Residing in this globally connected world of technology and internet, where television shows and movies have earned the title of modern literature, we can get a taste of almost every culture existing in different parts of the world through their shows and movies, reflecting their culture. It is essential for us to relish and avail ourselves of others’ literature and culture but, what’s of the utmost importance is to not become addicted to others’ culture and literature so much that we make ours inferior and endangered.


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