April 27, 2010

Same Woman. Different Decade.

Omkar Sane, Bombay

Indian advertising has and continues to be chauvinistic. When will the portrayal of women in advertising ever change from the current stereotype? Let’s tackle this issue in the oldest known format: Q & A. Answer as honestly as you can.

Q. What do you think about women?
A. They’re great.

Q. Okay, women in ads, more specifically.
A. They’re unchanged, like Bollywood actresses’ expressions.

Q. Why do you say that?
A. Because in ads they do what our grandmothers did in reality. Smile vacantly, wash clothes, drop children to school, cook, serve tea and bathe babies.

Q. Why are they doing these things?
A. Because men are doing everything else - in ads at least - signing deals, buying cars, going to work, arranging money for children, amongst other things.

Q. What other things?
A. Playing dumb charade on the Indo-Pak border.

Q. So what are women doing in ads?
A. They’re busy getting fairer, working on adding a glow to half their face, protecting themselves from all types of sunrays, waiting for husbands to return home, colouring their hair, fighting early signs of ageing, protecting kids from kitanu, etc.

Q. Okay, why are women doing only this in ads?
A. According to advertising, this is all women do in real life.

Q. But why?
A. It’s simple. Advertising looks at a woman as an object - to be looked at, to be held close, to be kept looking good, shining, kept on the shelf of society. She is either black or white, she can’t have greys.

Q. Why does advertising think so?
A. Because clients think so.

Q. Okay, so why does the client think so?
A. It’s a cycle set by 60 and 70s Indians. Advertising waits for society to create change and then show it. Society hopes advertising will create change by showing it.

Q. So, what’ll change first?
A. The channel you’re surfing.

Q. Which means women will keep doing these things in ads?
A. At least till the Director calls for ‘Cut’.

Q. Who’s the Director?
A. We are. We stop looking at women as an object; they’ll stop
showing her as one. Ads are for us, not them.

Kitanu: meaning germs in Hindi, a dig at the commercials in which women wash away germs from their children's hands.

About the Author: Omkar Sane has written a book on Advertising - Welcome To Advertising, Now Get Lost. He has an art background.

April 7, 2010

Anything that’s worse is better

Anupam Basu, Bombay

The human race has perfect explanations to everything that goes on. It's not that we have the answers, we just have good justifications. They are not based on science, fact, logic, or, for that matter, on hate, love or other such emotions. Just this: beyond a point we do not want to have much to do with them.

I list here a few of the many platitudes we love to believe in.

There is a God
This is the answer to everything. It's simple: I am not responsible for what is happening to me. There is a God to take care of things. Whatever He says goes. So if someone has to be responsible it has to be God. Since no one has really spoken to Him, it is convenient to name Him for everything that is happening. And He has never said He is not responsible for it, so He is responsible. No one since the dawn of man has ever had any argument against this upward delegation. Period.

There will be a right time
When you have not got what you want, don't analyze and break your head over it. There will be a right time for it. If you don't get your afternoon siesta during the week, wait for the weekend. If you didn't get that hot girl at 30, go to Thailand at 60 and you will get a hot one to make you feel 30.

If you are constipated in the morning, wait. Sometime in the near future your body will tell you when the right time is.

If you lament “The right time never came”, the answer is “There will be a right time.” Personally, I find this platitude liberating; it takes the pressure off me. I could be a loser all my life with my wife telling me all the time: “There will be a right time”.

Once my boss asked, “Why did you not meet the deadline?” I replied, “There will be a right time.” That she didn't take it too kindly is beside the point.

It could have been a lot worse
Of course it could have been. When you are stuck in traffic, remember it could be a lot worse - you could be in a bar that’s run out of electricity and is serving you warm beer. When you fall into a ditch be happy you don't have an alligator for company. In short, you need to be happy in your present state of misery.

Everything happens for the better
If your girlfriend dumps you your friends will say, “It happened for the better”. If, after some days, she makes up with you, they will again say, “It happened for the better”.

“How can two contradictory outcomes of the same situation, both happen for the better?” I wonder. “One of them should’ve happened for the worse.”

But my friends have a reply: “The one that happened for the worse happened for the better.”

“Oh really? My girlfriend can’t make up her mind”, I say. “That is most certainly for the better”, they say.

About the Author: Anupam Basu is a young Advertising Copywriter from Mumbai, now writing ad film scripts.
Got a humour story? Send it to me at dezymacedo@gmail.com