Old and New…..How advertisements exploit our weaknesses

Of late, a company that is world-renowned for its milk products has been under fire for releasing adulterated milk powder into the market .With the initial uproar caused by the expose dying down the Company has adopted a clever ploy by playing an old advertisement, both over radio and television that automatically makes those of us of a generation ago get all nostalgic. Hearing it after so many years made me go back in  time. I had  came to associate it with  perfect mothering , with perfect kids sitting down  and enjoying a hearty meal  with butter made by the same company playing the crucial role of mood lifter of the crowd.

This got me thinking about how advertisements are almost always used to manipulate people, playing to their sensory weaknesses, creating nostalgia and making false promises of making us  big and strong or pretty and fair or intelligent and healthy to name a few miracles promised.

In India recently, the decision by a leading jeweler to show a dusky woman, either a divorcee or widow with a little daughter remarrying, to promote their jewelry has caused quite a sensation. Many including some big names in Indian show business have gone all gaga over it and lauded it. I find the attention rather superficial     given the social taboos not only associated with widows and divorcees remarrying but also the scorn with which dark-skinned people, especially women , are looked down upon in general  in that country.images (2)

I would like to think that people in India who can afford to buy diamonds and gold jewelry    are also enlightened enough not consider remarriage taboo and also be able to look beyond the skin color of people. The reality is this kind of advertisement will have no appeal to millions of Indians who can barely afford to get by with a square meal a day let alone buy diamonds and gold. And for them the shallow ideas inculcated  in their mindset for generations and reinforced by movie actors and cricketers, both male and female,  that you need to have fair skin to succeed ,  will not go away just because they see a dusky women in advertisement remarrying.

The one industry in Indian that can influence people the most is their massive film industry but what most Indian films do is also reinforce stereotypes.They gloat over the fair-skinned dowry laden  bride, the obliging and dutiful wife and daughter-in-law, the domestic goddesses who look perfect after spending hours in the kitchen preparing the perfect meal, the conscientious widow who would never consider remarriage come what may etc. Given the massive appeal Bollywood stars have among the Indian population, it is they who can make the biggest impact in changing  people’s  mindset but such challenges are hardly addressed by the Indian movies except for a few odd ones.images

Now back to the big milk products company. Despite the fallout from negative publicity over the quality of its products, the company is determined to make a comeback and they are using the perfect tool. Many of us who were young adults when we first watched the advertisement and were completely bowled over by it  are now parents and it’s likely that the nostalgia for the time gone by will lure us back into buying the same products again.

The advertising industry survives on fooling and  hood winking  people but then again there are millions of us who want to be fooled and hoodwinked. In a world where reality is often not mundane, they provide us the getaway to a world of make-believe. And we don’t here too many people complaining about it.

Finding love in a hopeless age…….Gabriel Garcia Marquez style

Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian born Nobel Prize winning writer is best known worldwide for his two most popular novels – One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera.

Marquez
Marquez

While I ve enjoyed reading Love in the Time of Cholera, I haven’t been able to digest the other of the two books that eagerly but then there is more to the great writer than those two books as I discovered after reading “Memories of My Melancholy Whores.”

It was one of those books I randomly picked up from the book shop, being impressed by its outer appearance as well as the synopsis .I was not disappointed as the story   turned out to be the most unlikely sort of “love story”, if you could call it that.

Well for a start the protagonist is a man who gets by in life due to his writing skills, who on his ninetieth birthday decides to treat himself to a night of love with a virgin. So he calls up the madam of the  “illicit house” that he had  patronized  from his young years but where he has not gone  in nearly 20 years and asks her to procure the virgin for him.  How much more bizarre can a story get, you will begin to wonder at this point. A ninety year old man trying to procure an adolescent virgin? It does sound absurd but the man himself admits that at his age he knows “what he can and cannot do.”

images (1)The woman does succeeded in finding the virgin but what follows is not exactly what one would expect to happen. The night of love does not end the way as expected and for the protagonist, who remains unnamed throughout the book, it is the start to the buildup of brand new emotions that he has never felt in his life before. Instead of lust which is what he associated with his acquaintances with women throughout his life, be begins to feel love for the young girl, who driven by poverty   has to work as a whore to support her family.

As the story unfolds, we learn about the early life of the 90-year-old man, his parents and his life spent as a bachelor. All his life he has paid for sex but now, even at the age of 90, he wants things to change. As one of his former love- for- hire women tells him quite bluntly, “ Don’t let yourself die without knowing the wonder of fucking with love. “Fortunately for him, there is love waiting for him even in his old age.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is known for writing unconventional stories and this is another one of them. It’s easy to read and a complete page turner. Makes you wonder if it’s ever too late to start living the life you want.

A blog a day……………….

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I have been staring at the blank word document for quite a while now wondering what to blog about today. I usually blog when I am in a mood or find sudden inspiration from somewhere but since I signed up this morning for the NaBloPoMo, I have to write a blog every day. I am wondering if by trying to keep up with the target of one blog very day in the month of November, whether  my writing will suffer and I will just write useless stuff just to say I met the target. But I also like the challenge as it will lull me out of my laid back attitude towards most things in life.images

A problem I face often is that when I sit down to write I also need to be in front of a computer that I like and the place I like to write most is in the office. It’s in my room in office I do most of my writing for the newspaper I work for but also for my blog. But today is Sunday so I have to use the home laptop and it’s not something I relish. I know if I feel bored, I’ll just grab a book and start reading or else start doing something around the house. In office except for people who walk in and out of my room from time to time and distract me, I can keep writing away. In fact I am someone who can write when I am close to a deadline. When I know the deadline is drawing near, the writing just flows. Most days, I have enough material to finish a story, but I wait till its closer to the day of the deadline to start writing. Then with the deadline looming, my fingers pound away at the key board.

blogRight now my thought stream is rather numbed. On one side there is loud new generational rock music playing which is mixed with the other mundane sounds of home.

So it’s unlikely my mind will think up anything interesting to write today. Will aspire for better things tomorrow.