The Bangla language has an important function in our society. 'Ekushay' is all about Bangla, the right to speak the mother tongue, the right to express oneself in the most comfortable way.
It is not only celebrated by Bangalis around the world, but everybody else, irrespective of what language they speak, cherishes this day to celebrate their own language and cultural diversity. It gives people around the world a sense of dignity to be proud of their identity.
Like the speakers of other languages, Bangladeshi people have been enjoying the Bangla over-the-top (OTT) platforms recently. Gone are the days when people used to stick around for hours in front of the television for entertainment in the form of movies, drama, reality shows, etc. Web series are touching everyone, be they young, old, male, female, wage workers, the professional middle class, or business owners.
Nowadays, some of the popular OTT platforms produce and release web series or movies. It is becoming apparent that the attraction for traditional television viewing is declining amongst the Bangladeshi youth.
A web series is a series of video episodes which are released over a certain period of time in order to tell a story to viewers. It is designed like a television soap opera or series, except for the fact that it is watched on web platforms. It used to be more popular in Western countries, but with globalisation, the trend of online content streaming has become popular in Bangladesh as well.
Famous OTT platforms like Bioscope, Bongo, Chorki, Hoichoi, and other video streaming websites provide instant internet access to wide categories of video content, which attracts Bangladeshi youth, although age disclaimers are shown on screen before the start of the series.
One noticeable trend in a number of these OTT content is the excessive use of informal expressions of language, or substandard language. Language has three political standards: official standard, non-standard, and substandard. Substandard language is also known as slang.
Slangs have become very popular among OTT filmmakers who have started to treat violence and cuss words as a shortcut to success.
It is true that the OTT platform gives us a lot of freedom, but one needs to be very responsible with this freedom. Using Bangla slang in an unfiltered manner just to attract eyeballs is something that no one should agree with, especially when it is not even required.
One must understand that the youth are more likely to imitate and adapt that language as their own, because they can easily relate to what is shown on online web shows and other video content.
As a result, it contributes a lot to behavioural changes in youths today. It not only makes them aggressive both in their behaviour and in their thoughts, but it is also likely to draw them towards the visual elements that often accompany such language - for example smoking, drinking, drugs, nudity, and vulgarity, which are also shown frequently in these online web shows. This opens the doorway to several unhealthy habits at an early age.
Streaming platform content contains too much abusive language and other harsh realities of society. It has originality and creativity, but at the same time, it has a strong potential to attract the youth. In the end, it introduces a lot of shocking new topics, subjects, and ideas which the Bangladeshi youth might have been unaware of, and which they can be influenced by.
The new era of online video streaming content and web series is based on an economic model which has earned revenue, much like other popular cultures, and young audiences overlook the need for value-added content.
Also, the thirst to adopt modern, progressive Western culture has highly influenced local content, and is being shared on various video streaming platforms.
In the modern and connected world, it is more important than ever that people value their own cultural heritage, which is best borne by their local language. Our history is inseparable from 'Ekushay', and to understand that, the young generation must learn Bangla in a proper manner, and not the way it is exercised in common parlance. If they do not do this, they will not know their own history.
Knowing one's own heritage is increasingly important as the world becomes more and more culturally diverse. In the workplace or the surrounding environment, if someone needs to deal with people from different cultural backgrounds, they need to know their own culture, to be aware how people can be different and yet work together towards a unique goal.
But the content available on OTT platforms can trigger rebellious aggression in Bangladeshi youth. If it is not controlled, it will create major psychosocial issues among the youth.
It is true that with these web series people now have multiple options to choose from, depending on their interest, be it variety in language, genre, etc.; but one should also be aware of binge-watching a web series, which has a lot of impact on one's mind.
Shafin Muhammad John, PhD, is a research enthusiast.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.