Friday, December 23, 2005

Chauvinist Hubris Redux

Hindustan Lever have devised a new strategy to sell their fairness cream for men, Fair & Handsome. Two men, seemingly acquaintances, are running away from a posse of girls because one of the guys has a tube of HLL’s fairness cream for women. Once they have saved themselves from the girls’ prying eyes, one of the men (the fairer one, of course) looks at his friend and exclaims in utter disgust some mumbo-jumbo about how rotten for him to use a women’s fairness cream.

What was that?? Are we still watching such rigmarole on television? Some time back, when the entire concept of fairness creams was raising debates in the MSM (how unfair was the gist of them), HLL had shown career women using the cream in a bid to show that fairness can help not just in the matrimonial stakes but also in the stock markets. A girl was shown to have stolen the limelight as a cricket commentator after using the cream (in an askance tribute to Mandira Bedi’s noodle straps, no doubt).

If that wasn’t bad enough for feminist pride, now comes this rotten display of misogyny. Wait a second - the ad doesn’t finish with the two guys rolling in their ignorant mud. The next scene shows the victim using the fairness cream (the one for men, of course) and coming to college, where bimbettes of every size and variation are falling over him like there’s no tomorrow. Yuck! What the crap is wrong with the HLL marketing team? Is this 2005 or some Sati era we are living in?

The last time around, there was talk of banning such ads, but the government, otherwise so active in banning dance bars and adult films on TV, mustn’t be seeing much wrong in the promotion of a culture so dear to the Indian identity. ‘How can we banish something that helps our daughters (and sons) to get fairer (read better), right?’ Fairness is the elixir that cures all; what you possess up there is of slight consequence.

Catch this bigoted, contemptuous, disdainful piece of junk anytime of the day on Indian TV channels.

(Incidentally, the guys in the clip are not quibbling about the very concept of a fairness cream for men, but that's another discussion for a day when I am in a mood to discuss Beckham and SRK.)


Fatherhood and other patriarchal subversions
Endings: torturous, cathartic, ultimately satisfying (stripping of gendered definitions)


HLL is not Fair & Handsome's parent. Emami is.

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