Living on the Edge: it’s entertainment not ethics!

Published: October 24, 2013
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I know what the youth desires and I put my heart and soul into giving it to them. PHOTO: https://www.facebook.com/loteteam

TV is for entertainment, not for preaching. If it is messages on morals that you want, we have schools. So don’t judge a reality show like Living on the Edge from Oprah’s eyes or from an ethical angle; judge a reality show for the entertainment that it provides.

Write-ups like Cruelty to animals is not ‘Living on the Edge’ discourage Pakistani initiative; why can’t our people learn to appreciate rather than putting people down all the time? Surprisingly, even the Hindustan Times wrote good things about our show at the launch of Roadies Season 9 while in Pakistan, people are only propagating that my show is a copy of Roadies and that it violates animal rights!

What a shame.

However, first, let me address some confusions about the show:

Contestants

Many youngsters from Karachi to Peshawer want to try their luck at Living on the Edge. There are no paid actors on the show. If this were so, wouldn’t you see the same people appearing on other shows as well?

Pressure test

During auditions, I put pressure on the contestants to check whether their nervous system is strong enough to take the stress because they will face challenges during the show which can lead to heart failure if their nervous system is weak.

We take measures to protect our contestants.

Personal questions

All reality shows work on the theory, ‘Are you willing to show what you are to the entire world?’ The essence of any reality show depends on people who are willing to share their lifestyle with the world, and we don’t force them to answer personal questions. It is their choice.

Selection

Contestants are selected based on them having nerves of steel, camera confidence and daring ability. Some people aiming to break records in the Guinness Book of World Records often bring in their own dares, which just adds to the excitement of the show.

This initial selection is followed by city dares, in which 16 contestants are selected to stay at a place called Waqar’s Den, for 10 days.

Unoriginal Content

Many haters claim that the show is copied from MTV Roadies. I would like to clarify that Roadies is a travel adventure show, where the contestants travel different countries. In Living on the Edge contestants stay in Waqar’s Den for 10 days with strangers and try to judge who their enemies and friends are.

Moreover, in Roadies a panel of judges casts contestants based on their personality traits and not on dares. Also, just because Roadies is on air doesn’t mean other shows can’t make room for themselves; that would be like saying that if the Superman series exists, there can’t be a Spiderman series, which is ridiculous right?

Animal rights

Now, coming to the animal rights issue raised in the post published in The Express Tribune, firstly let me just point out that globally Fear Factor is a much loved and followed show. Why doesn’t the media go crazy about abusing animals trained for such events?

I’ll tell you why: it’s like saying that the circus lion or monkey is being abused when its master hits it while teaching it tricks. If you don’t believe me, pay a visit to the Lucky Irani Circus or observe the animal trainers in Empress Market Saddar, where animals are trained to be scary and dangerous for events like ours.

How come there is no media hullabaloo on that?

Do you think Greenpeace is unaware about the happenings on Fear Factor or the achievements recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records such as eating a live scorpion or a live snake?

Is that also abuse? If so then why is everyone silent?

Tazeen mentioned in her article that a lizard was used in the show and again called it abuse.

Seriously? If you do some research, you will find that many international reality shows including Fear Factor use them. You can watch the show here at your convenience.

Entertainment

Living on the Edge is the only show in the world where the host is the judge and director of the show! Not only that, the host himself always performs deadly dares while Roadies is merely about testing the tasks for the sake of a behind-the-scenes episode.

Above everything you need to understand that there are all kinds of shows – the likes of The Jerry Springer Show, Fear Factor and Oprah! You can’t just have shows like Oprah because entertainment varies from person to person.

Do you have any idea how difficult editing and production is? I guess not.

Do you know why no Pakistani reality TV show aside from Living on the Edge has ever survived? It’s because I know what the youth desires and I put my heart and soul into giving it to them. I edit day and night to make it more interesting for the viewers because that’s what they want!

I am just disappointed at how poorly the article was researched and even allowed to be published. Freedom of expression is one thing but exaggerating facts is quite another! Even during elections, it was published that Waqar is contesting in elections when all I was doing was educating people on ARY News about how a common person can contest in elections. Instead of appreciating the originality of my concept, I was criticised for ‘trying to be a politician’.

I highly respect every one’s thoughts about my work and I make it a habit to take criticism positively, which is the only reason that I am replying to the post.

In the end, I would just like you to understand that this has now become the biggest platform for our youth and I would appreciate it if we could work together to improve Pakistani media so the youth doesn’t feel the need to run to foreign media. Feel free to email me with your ideas on how to improve the dares, contestant quality, audition locations and so forth.

Let us share ideas instead of making personal attacks and posting hateful comments. I even have internship opportunities for those who are interested in learning the trade. I hope that you can bring in ideas to improve this platform, instead of simply showing that you love to hate me.

Waqar Zaka

Waqar Zaka

A director, editor, presenter and composer based in Karachi, his projects include Living on the Edge, Desi Khuriyan, Nachley and other reality shows. He tweets as @ZakaWaqar (twitter.com/ZakaWaqar)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.