When the dusky bride in Tanishq’s new ad walks into her second wedding with her daughter and the groom takes the sathphera with the child in his arms, hopes really fly high for the women in the nation. Similarly Officer’s Choice new ads deal with sexual harassment women face in office and the abusive relationship endured by the fairer sex. All these women friendly as well as few gay friendly ads make one smile about the awareness and openness growing in our Indian society. Since the country is in a chaotic juncture with its politics, economy and social disorder, the idiot box at times gives glimpses of hope.
But these hopes again turn into ashes as soon as another new ad from Park Avenue breaks in. Here a beautiful lady walks in for a drink when she is spotted by the man in black staring at her. When another guy attempts to sit near her, man in black sprays his deodorant on the seat, next on another seat, then the on the drink and finally on the arm of the lady. With each spray he speaks “MINE” with his loud manly voice and finally concluding “All Mine” when he sprays his scent everywhere. Everybody laughs as the other guy leaves. The ad may seem innocent compared to the skin play conducted by Axe deodorants’ around the world. But the word “Mine” is something which has layers of patriarchal thoughts. Who has given that particular man to claim everything as “Mine”? Objectification of women in ads, movies etc are nothing new to us, yet the level of objectification has now intermingled with material possession. Axe has been the champion of objectifying women in their ads yet this particular ad of Park Avenue with minimum skin show is more upsetting. The ad says a man marks his territory with his scent, well here the concerned lady he claims as “Mine” is reduced to the status of the furniture around. He is not marking his territory but trying to put a seal on an unknown woman he yet has to speak. So aren’t his attempts purely lustful and his instinct animalistic?
The idea of damsel in distress is so overrated that even if the damsel is not in trouble the man chooses to view her in distress. Confining the options of female is one of the simplest and easiest ways to dominate her. Reports show that it is very difficult for a divorced women and single mothers to actually hope for a new family until the child is separated from the mother. A well dressed woman has to go through the average amount ogling every day, so isn’t it more sensible to create ads which will create a sense of hope and betterment instead of commercializing the body of both the genders. The men are not excluded of this objectification, they are expected to behave like an alpha male, whose duty is to be manly and save the damsels. The glorification of the self is backed by the desire to attract the person we like. The ads tend to show that ultimate aim of a man is to attract women with his smell, smile, hair, breath or his bags. In this process both genders are being stereotyped. Thus the hunks always win the heart of the beautiful; the nice guy always needs the aids of new products in market so that the girl he likes smiles at him.
The world is sold to us in insignificant colourful packets. Most of the insignificant necessities have pasted smiles of beautiful women. One of the editors of certain regional magazine was finding it hard to sell his magazine few years back. His magazine had excellent quality of poetry and articles from the core of Assam’s psyche, yet his magazine failed to attract attention with its intellectual cover photographs. Finally the team of editors decided to publish the faces of Local Beauties on its cover, since then the bimonthly magazine has grabbed the attention of readers. This particular incident shows we need pretty face to sell our product despite their being no relation between the picture on label and contents of product. We have a genuine tendency to seek the luster despite there are flaws within the object of brilliance.
When whole world has been witness to the large-scale sufferings of women, it’s time for the ad makers to present subtle over cheap, aesthetics over attraction and moral over voyeurism. Silently we watch a woman being called “Mine”, silently we enjoy watching a man become alpha male and grab the women, and silently we all become voyeurs of the self. We often discard these ads as fiction and hence they won’t influence us in long run. But this very thought might be wrong, we take partially what we want to learn. The cliché that runs in movies and ads that “Even if she says no, she means yes” makes us believe in it. A no actually means no. It’s very easy to live with deception and claim it to be part of our life; half of the ads that run on the idiot box are plain deception to not only our eyes but our thoughts.
When ads which deal with social problems air on the idiot box, tiny little hopes start to burn again in the hearts. One should remember the classic dialogue from one particular ad which said “Bell Bajo”(Ring the bell) this ad stood to raise voice against domestic violence. The ads provided by Tata Tea stands for various social issues often overlooked like triple riding on bikes or serious problem like corruption. The latest ad/promotion of a daily soap showing a brother buying sanitary napkin for his sister might hurt the female sentiment of private world yet it gives a sense of openness in the closed world we live in. Hence despite hating the man in black in Park Avenue ad, we should choose to love the guy in the Bharat matrimony ad who supports his working wife.
P.S- If beauty lies in the eyes of beholder; Voyeurism too lies in the eyes of stalker.
thanking you to bear with me