OPINION

Peddling pain on TV

The suffering of others is easy to sell on television if the right format is found, and a prime example is «Paratragouda» hosted by Annita Pania on Alter. In a recent episode, Pania had a female guest who looked like death warmed up, let’s call her Vasso. Vasso was married very young, had three children, her husband died of drug abuse and her youngest son, 17, is hooked on heroin. Vasso sleeps rough. She tells Pania she wants a house, a job and to have her kids back (who are currently with her late husband’s parents). «How do you think you’re going to get all that, by pushing a button?» Pania asks. «No,» says Vasso. «I know it’s not easy. But I’m clean now. I want a job.» Pania disputes Vasso’s claim to be off heroin and grills her about deciding to have children… She looks at her guest disapprovingly as Vasso sits huddled up, speechless. «Vasso, don’t you love yourself?» «I don’t know,» Vasso says. And then she is given the solution. «You have to love yourself if you’re going to love your children and to love the world,» is the platitude Pania offers before the commercials take over… Banning or censoring such programs would not solve the problem that exists here, as it is a broader cultural one. Indeed, although Pania succeeds in humiliating herself along with her guests, the real culprits are the channel heads who approve such voyeurism, those who put the suffering of their fellow humans on display to entertain us…