Friday, August 31, 2007

The Vitening Rewolution.

Since we’re on the topic of TV, I thought I’d train my crib-gun on Indian advertisements.

For one thing, some of them are brain numbingly stupid. (“Do you accept cards?’ croons a glamorous yet wrinkled cougar-type woman. “Only if it says… ‘I love you’.” Whispers back her newly-attentive-because-she-uses-anti-wrinkle-cream husband.)

They are sometimes also so wildly irresponsible it’s scary. I don’t know about you but I find all these skin-lightening ‘remedies’ very sinister.

Though we’ve had this colonial hang-over forever, I think this whole ‘look like a white person’ thing has started to become so pervasive that people don’t see it for what it is anymore. Along with our dyed blonde hair and blue contacts, we now want to be whiter in a month’s time so we’ll get the job/the husband we need. And I say ‘whiter’ and not fairer because of this scintillating little slogan for ‘Snake Oils R Us’( Contrary to what you’re thinking, I really have forgotten the name and not chickening out of a potential legal battle in the commodities court.):

“Forget fairness, join the whitening revolution!”

Excuse me? Whitening revolution??? Are these people serious? That slogan is so beyond appalling it’s almost like a spoof fairness commercial. I bet all our Indian freedom fighters are rolling over in their graves or looking down from heaven, and screaming, “ Are you kidding us? We chase out all the white people only for home-grown ones to spring up in their place? We want our freaking lives back!”

I used to like to think that there was a certain unsavory reputation attached to these Fair and Lovely products and that self-respecting celebrities would never endorse them. But now, needing to be fair is so part of who we are that superstars like The Shah Rukh Khan and Hema Malini’s daughter (neither of whom are particularly fair which of course has NOTHING to do with what I’m saying…just an observation!) feel no compunction in pocketing a cool crore to be in these ads. (Indian celebs would probably sell their own grannies to earn a quick buck, I have it from an inside source that Amitabh Bacchan has already sold one Grand-uncle.)

So every five minutes or so whichever channel we turn to drills into our heads that once we become fair and handsome/lovely, life will be just - Vunderful! Vee vill find lou and hau much better jobs. (Seriously if you want so bad to be ‘vite’ then atleast get the accent right.)

I think the state of Indian advertising is best summed up with another brilliant line from an ad (rumour has it that Einstein wrote the script for this one before he died). A bald, short, fat bloke says to this muscular chap on a bike “Do you think you can do it?” And he replies in a cool, off-hand manner “Thinking is SUCH a waste of time!” before swinging his leg over his bike a trifle awkwardly and riding off.

I think the Indian Advertising fraternity should actually make that the first line of their official anthem, sung at their monthly “We’re Criminally Stupid” association meetings.


shreyasi said...

Really funny but also really sad coz it's true. Vite will always be right in India, and sometimes I feel less discriminated against here than I did at home (we're all 'blackies' here, there are no nit-picking shade distinctions)! Btw, isn't good ol' Amita Baccha about 80 now, does he have any grand-uncles who are still alive??

Nisho said...

Talking about the vitening revolution, the best one I like is the Orbit White Ad...

''In the before, due to black teeths, she was not getting any proposals.. but now, due to white teeths, she is getting too much proposals. Orbit White makes you ATTACTTTTIVE!. Orbit White, it is a must for bachelor mens and bachelor womens!!''

Beat that!

hehehe.... funny post btw.. :-)

Diya said...

FANTASTIC post, ushasi! i couldn't agree more. and you're right - ever since i've got back to my normal life as a couch potato at home, i've noticed that the emphasis nowadays in adverts is much more on vitening than on fairening. is absolutely ridiculous. not to mention that these models who turn vite look really unnatural as well! i don't think it's just an offshoot of colonialism, though - it's our own little age-old version of skin discrimination. what about that awful bengali word -moila- used to describe a dusky complexion? and the typical bengali phrase - meyeta moila, kintu mishti dekhte?!!! argh! it drives me mad! i love the orbit white advert as well, though. it's such a good piss take to do it with a cow!

Diya said...

and yes, that card ad -'only if it says 'i love you'- is.just.sickening!!!

rider of rohan said...

I think its in our blood to look upon "gori mems and sahibs" with reverence. And these ads just play upon this conditioning to drive home their product.

But I think the crown for worst onscreen marketing definitely goes to Telebrands- especially the ones selling gym equipment. Its so lame, all of them beginning with - "Main bahut pareshaan tha"
Watching them gives me stomach cramps.

Haimanti said...

havent read your posts for a looong time. This one was really funny and i totally agree with you. The husbands are suddenly attentive because the wives are looking "younger", bullshit! and incidentally, the wives DONT look younger.

Haimanti said...

and thankfully in mumbai, people dont much notice my kelo complexion (i am usually surrounded by equally kelo bengalis, more kelo marathis and mallus)

Akshat Kaul said...

You forgot about "fair and handsome". We love white skin, blue eyes and blond hair. We are the neo-nazis.