Friday, 2 June 2017

The problem with House of Cards: Blog # 302

The problem with House of Cards


Although a little late into the ‘seasons’, I have begun watching the series, House of Cards. I am in love with the story, the plot, the drama et al. Ofcourse, it goes without saying that the cast and their acting prowess is beyond excellence. Like millions around the globe, House of cards, the sitcom has left me too, sleep deprived and addicted.

House of Cards, Series, Sitcom, Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright
Now, what in my view is the problem with this brilliant series? My issue is with the protagonists and the lead characters. They are conniving, ungrateful, materialistic, lacking in morals and human decency. I tried looking at them as characters with shades of gray. NO! Most of them all dark - beyond doubt.

I was discussing this with a friend of mine today. She said that she is happy with the emergence of this new concept in entertainment wherein the lead characters are purely negative. I agree with her. It is a bold and different move. Easier, tried and tested approach is to portray likable characters. This is giving rise to a new way of projection of characters. The difference in approach is always a delight, more so when it is in the field of creativity.

But, what about the impact this kind of portrayal causes on the audience? Is it sending out a message that being ruthless, crude, mean and throwing away values to the wind is acceptable? Does it glorify the approach of achieving one’s goals with no regard at all to the means?

One can argue that a series should be taken as just that – a work of fiction leading to entertainment. One shouldn’t expect it to serve a greater cause. But isn’t that the purpose of art- to serve a greater cause? This series is immensely popular. There are a lot of youngsters watching it. They can buy into the approaches taken by the protagonists. They might as well start approaching their lives just the way the lead characters in this series do. Are you thinking that this is similar to the argument of blaming films for all the heinous acts that people do in real life? No. There is a difference. Whatever we have seen so far doesn’t usually inspire a thinking, educated, well-read person, to turn evil. It is largely, the gullible ones who fall prey to such blind imitations. The reason why the brighter minds did not have those inclinations is because the lead characters were never completely dark. There were gray ones for sure. But I haven’t seen glorification and justification of darkness like what we see in this series.

I am not na├»ve to hope for only characters with divine qualities in series and films. I understand that people aren’t black and white. All of us have elements of gray in us. But we all make a conscious effort to fight the darkness within. We try to avoid entering the dark zone, however grave the need for realizing our ambitions may be. Stories like House of Cards weaken such efforts and intentions. That is where my concern lies.

Arun Babu 

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