Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Marriage: The Indian Consumer's favorite product

The other day while watching an Indian advertisement which portrays how their new gold scheme can be an intelligent investment, reminded me of a mother who is an acquaintance, and has already started saving their stakes for their five year old daughter's marriage. While a few have started stocking up on gold, the others see Insurance policies with high returns as an endowement for a daughter,  some of them inspired by these television advertisements and many by the tabloid. I was wondering how typically tyrannical can advertisers get and how frivolously foolish are the Indian parents?

How can they portray the future of a young girl barely six or seven years old by stereotyping her as "a wife in waiting and a mother in making"? Maybe they could have traced the character of the young girl more thoughtfully, and not made her a sacrificial scapegoat to sell their scheme. They could have talked about a Gold saving system that she could have utilized at a later stage in her life for her higher studies or to become an entrepreneur like this advertisement does. 
Any magazine you open sells marriage on its glossy pages as rich brocade silk or gold or platinum jewelery. So is the absolute obligation for most Indian movies or Television serials to shoot a marriage sequence, atleast in one of the episodes , and yes the more the merrier.

Browse through the wall of your facebook page and you will notice how every second Indian newspaper link you have "liked" talks of how a marriage can be planned and where a would-be-bride can train herself to be the prefect "husband welfare organization".

Most of these newspapers and magazines have very little space to detest the social evils in the society. Alas! How hypocritical we are?

Marriage is the eight letter verb that is being force fed to us, in newspapers and magazines, on the facebook wall, in movies and on the television.

Why? Because the Indian consumer is ready to pay a huge price to buy it. They are willing to churn out a fortune to buy this event into their lives, for that they think will rid their child of all the societal stigma and give them a respectable position admist their peers who are always spying on the lives of young people to score a point with the "We know it all, we have seen more life than you" attitude.

I am smothered to smithereens to see what is being shown on the couch potato or on the glimmering pages of newspapers and periodicals. They will sell fairness creams for a Bride-to-be like in this advertisement promoting shameless sexism, for an Indian bride has to be beautiful and fair, come what may she has no other choice, to a mother who thanks the LIC policy her husband invested in, that gave her daughter a future in marriage. So can't daughters imagine a tomorrow without marriage and a husband.? Then this advertisement that sells a marriage market promoting the idea of community or so to say is advertising casteism by coaxing consumers to log on to their website and find a suitable guy from their own community before they spot their daughter with a man of their choice on a motorbike someday. This guy on the motorbike could supposedly have been the girl's friend or class mate but that kind of a possibility is unexplored here.

More marriage markets that are selling twelfth century concepts about marriage include this where in the idea of choice marriages or love marriages is being shrugged gloriously. All you and your daddy need to do is to log on and let them do the match making.

This marriage market claims to be the first website offering match making services to Indians in India and abroad has a horridly racist ad like this where in, initially the son's mother had to cajole the father and the grandmother to meet a girl the son wanted to introduce. They are flabbergasted to later discover that the girl belonged to their own community and had a profile on the website of the marriage market being promoted, with her age, weight, height. blood group, complexion and mother tongue details clearly stated!

Brides are commodities in India sold with pre-requisite peculiarities that a human woman can't have, perhaps a mannequin with no teeth and tongue might make the most ideal bride in India.Without these, most women ever wanting to marry might find themselves in a fix, for a bride is not a bride in India without these formidable features to her credit.

This thought makes most Indian parents control a girls' career and her choices in life which most of these advertisements propagate. They target pre-existing prejudices that we as a society are trying to terminate and show them on television over and over again until they are etched in the minds of the viewers and lest to say they have also impersonated women as a weaker object they could twist and turn to fit their bill like they show in this ad where in the guy is shameless and irresponsible and doesn't need a girl in flesh and bones but a treasure trove as his wife and,  how he is guided by his young nephew on why he should choose the said policy to marry a girl who would be a caring and sharing life partner. And this advertisement that takes a dig at the homsexual LGTB community and questions the sexual preferences of an individual. I do not promote the idea of such preferential prejudice against people who are struggling day and night to gain a standing in this society not structured for them.

And to add to this huge heap of filth are all the malayalam ads like this that talks of why love marriages are a misgiving to the trust your parents have placed in you or the uncountable wedding ensemble ads that constitute a major part of the TV viewing in God's own country. Every second advertisement on a malayalam channel is that of a gold jewellery brand or silk sari store. I wonder people in that part of the globe will ever be interested in anything else besides setting a grand gilded stage for the wedding of a daughter or son?

This is an ad inspired by the Nisha Sharma incident which happened in U.P in 2003, where in this young girl stood by her parents and raised a voice against the reckless rending for dowry that was being thrown on her parents by the groom's side! On one hand this ad is empowering girls to say a "No" to an a punishable practice but on the other hand it is promoting sexism because only if you're beautiful in skin would you get such guts and glory to brave against social evils like dowry.

Times are changing and so is the mindset of a handful of educated Indians. Sometimes when I see advertisements like this where in a girl invests in a home and explains her grandmother about the concept of "ghar basana" or this ad where in a prospective groom about whom his parents were shamelessly waffling in front of the girl and her parents is caught red handed disgracefully enjoying with women in a night club all thanks to modern tools of communication and the refusal of the girl to accept him in the first go, my itching irk is curbed upto a large extent.

I've given up TV viewing because most advertisements and shows make me feel like a broiler chicken and I am very sure that I am not missing out on much. Or I primarily invest my time and energy in watching something young and real like Roadies or some reality TV show that I believe is not a melodrama in the making.

Let us also understand that what they are trying to sell to each one of us is the favourite product no Indian consumer might ever want to say a no to "Marriage". Trading "Marriage" for every nudging necessity in life is only strengthening the Indian viewer's school of thought which has established marriage as a peerless pick and not a choice. 
The obsession of marriages taking place to fulfill a social responsibility and happening within the community with all the ritualistic revelry and established ethos gets a "thumbs up" when sexist advertisements are fed into our brains everyday in between domestic politics visiting us at eight pm to provide all the spice and sauce for a perfect dinner. The slapping of sexist sentiments in classifieds and commercials is only rearing a more unequal society for a future, that is not look promising any or which way a woman believing in equality might want to see it.


Ash said...

Good post. Its really infuriating to see stupid ads like this, and what bugs me the most is the awfully pathetic matrimonial section of the newspaper.... "fair, slim, beautiful, domestic expert bride from 'status' family, for 'decent' marriage...." ... sickening.

Subhorup Dasgupta said...

Couldn't agree more with your post on how media actually reinforces the very things we need to break out of as a society. You have put together a great compile of links to illustrate your point too. I am new to your blog so I might be missing some of the context, but commenting all the same.

Just a small observation. You might want to edit your "links" to open in new window. You will find this as a checkbox option for every link you add on the blogger interface. This will keep readers from leaving your site midway through the post. The internet is a fickle medium, and it makes sense to cover your bases.

Viyoma said...

Rinzu, I completely concur with your observation, but here is question whether life imitates art or vice versa.

We cannot blame it entirely on the advertorials for portraying Marriage as the utmost essential needs. Societal norms have evolved and developed around this necessity.

On one side we feel, there is undue importance given to this factor. On the other end, we refer to this same Institution- for projecting Indian Culture & its values.


Thanks Ash.!


Subhorup, I didn't find any options.! It troubles me but for now I am using right click and opening any new links in a new tab.!


Viyoma, Marriage is a very important decision of life.! Sad that the prejudices of portraying Indianess have been linked to this thought.! But most men and women, and especially women are not easily giving in to this social evil now, social evil only if it's force fed.!

Subhorup Dasgupta said...

when you open your blogger editor to post a new post and highlight text to add a link, in the dialog box that opens, you will find two checkboxes on your left lower corner, one is for opening link in new window, and the other is for adding a no follow attribute. if you check the open in new window option, readers can click and it will open in a new window or tab. hope this helps.

Shail Mohan said...

Indeed, why should marriage be life. It is just a part of life and I believe people can be quite happy without it.
These ads you have mentioned are the ones that have my blood boiling. True that every other Mallu ad is one for gold. That fact is reflected in the gold covered brides that one sees. :(

Indian Quotes said...

Marriages in India, are a caste-ist and religion-based, anti-women institution.

Austere Autopsy said...

Awesome post and a nice compilation of the nerve wrecking advertisements shown on the TV...the best one being the shameless guy in the LIC ad!!