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Dear Rape Culture

December 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Dear Rape Culture: This is not “pleasure” and that scene was not “sexy”!

Anyone else skeevied out by the whole narrative of how Nick, Kalinda’s abusive (ex-?)husband in The Good Wife was trying to “pleasure” her in the ice-cream scene (see here for an example of this narrative)?

He wasn’t trying anything of the sort, people. He was raping her, assaulting her anus and hoping to get a reaction out of her. There was no consent and no expectation of her pleasure – it was just another way for him to demonstrate control over her (like he did with the eggs/omelet demand.

It’s just disturbing – and yet another example of how pervasive rape culture is – that the viewers of such an excellent show are blind to just how rape-y and abusive the scene was. It wasn’t even consensual BDSM, just plain old abuse.

Ew. I can’t wait for this guy to die or disappear from the show.

Cool FAIL by Burger King – again

July 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Russ Klein evidently spent his childhood ringing the doorbells of neighbors and running away and got caught plenty. Or John Chidsey, CEO of Burger King, had friends who did that, and he never got the guts to do so himself, so he’s making up for it now (no surprises here, apparently: “We want to stay on the cutting edge of pop culture,” says CEO John Chidsey, 44, whose office is lined with photos of himself with celebrities from Sheryl Crow to Tiger Woods.).

First off, you can’t be entirely cool-based if you’re aiming to be a high market share brand selling at a low price point for your category. That’s way too many things at once for too many people.
And second, One can be ‘kewl’ or edgy without falling off the edge entirely, really. Someone please show this awesomely written article to Burger King, stat:

Burger King’s MO: Offend, Earn Media, Apologize, Repeat

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — How’s this for a global marketing strategy? Each month target a different international market with an ad that offends some segment of the population, then, after earning a lot of media attention, apologize and pull the ad.

That’s the pattern of offense Burger King has established in the past few months. Most recently, the fast feeder had cultural and religious groups screaming today in the latest installment of what has become a series of monthly melees. A few hours after an ABC News reported that ads in Spain depicted the Hindu goddess Lakshmi atop a ham sandwich — with the caption “a snack that is sacred” — Burger King announced that it would pull the ads. Many Hindus are, of course, vegetarian.

According to the statement: “Burger King Corporation values and respects all of its guests as well as the communities we serve. This in-store advertisement was running to support a limited-time-only local promotion for three restaurants in Spain and was not intended to offend anyone. Out of respect for the Hindu community, the in-store advertisement has been removed from the restaurants.”

This has all become familiar. In April, Burger King pulled and said it would revise a European TV spot for its Texican Whopper that had proved offensive to Hispanics. In it a small, masked wrestler draped in a Mexican flag was carried around by a tall gent in jeans and a cowboy hat. Parents expressed dismay in the chain’s online promotion of “Star Trek” in May, in which the chain’s iconic King character kicked a succession of people in the crotch. Last month brought “The 7-incher,” a promotion in Singapore for a long, fat burger that was sure to “blow your mind away.” A woman’s head with an awed, open mouth accompanied the picture of the sandwich.

Emphasis mine above. So they did put out and them withdraw the ads that were offensive to Hindus and to Hispanics. Good for that. Of course, they never withdrew the advertisements that were offensive to women (Pshaw! Our ‘superfan’ is 18-34 MALE, y’know!) – e.g. the woman’s head ad (also called the ‘blow-up doll’ ad: here), or the pedophilic Spongebob Squarepants ad (here).

My issue here is not just that the advertising is provocative, or that it’s really insulting – my bigger problem here is that the advertising is SO pointless! It’s (A) bad, (B) ineffective advertising that is (C) NOT built around a solid insight and (D) does not communicate any real benefit. The (E) drama is all misplaced, and the (F) branding is really non-existent. Finally, (G) there’s really poor benefit vizualization – and the (H) execution is poor – the food looks unappetizing!

Any one of the eight strikes above, and at P&G – or where I work now – we’d’ve been forced back to the drawing board. I can just imagine the Burger King ads being shown at a advertising workshop as an example of ‘how to spend Millions of $$ and not communicate effectively’.

Look at the Spongebob ad, for instance – at the end of 30 seconds all you remember are square butts on little girls, and a sick Spongebob going around measuring the girls with a measuring tape. They’re not advertising a square burger, or a larger burger (to explain the tape) – they’re advertising their version of the Happy Meal. There’s no logical link (unless it was a convoluted pun on measuring tape = ruler = king = Burger King. Really?). I didn’t even recall that it was a Burger King ad until I went to register my outrage.

Or the Lakshmi ad mentioned above – how is a ‘sacred snack’ a meaningful consumer benefit or drawn on an insight? Do you eat more of a sacred snack than one that’s not? Do you plan for it and schedule your day around it, like you would for a religious event (uhm, isn’t it supposed to be fast food)? And if you HAD to go with that benefit, isn’t there a more effective, relatable way to depict ‘sacred’ to Spaniards than via Lakshmi? If you wanted to show a new Asian line, or spicy food, or new exotic items, I can imagine this kind of an image making some convoluted sense to a small-town, unsophisticated, untraveled creative director. But a Hindu goddess to sell a hamburger? Massive FAIL.

It’s gotten so bad I can’t be bothered to put out an action alert – I can just sit here and laugh my ass off at these idiots working in the ‘Miami-based Burger King’

Kambakkht @#!@$#@$#

July 7, 2009 Leave a comment

Mr. Rajiv Hari Om Bhatia, Hon’ble Smt Pratibha Patil called. She wants the Padma Shri back.

Is Akshay Kumar gunning to be India’s Judd Apatow? In which case, why is India’s Angelina Jolie wannabe (*cough* Posh Spice wannabe *cough*) acting in his movies again?

And who’s going to break it to either of them – and to the rest of bollywood – that feminist != man hater and/or frigid? (Please, even Hollywood’s gone beyond. Not!)

Of course, they’d’ve happily gone onto feminist = ugly, hairy, old, etc…but arre, phir piktchar kaun dekhega yaar? Hence.

Yes, Kambakkht Ishq sounds like one sick, stupid, and (worse) utterly boring flick (No, I haven’t seen it. No, I don’t intend to. Yes, I review films I haven’t seen). The first weekend after a three month movie strike in Bollywood (except for New York, which was released a couple weeks ago) is probably the only time it would’ve got the opening it’s got. Also kudos to the people marketing the movie because they made what I thought was an utterly boring trailer, but one apparently not nearly as offensive as the actual movie (unlike some other trailers which picked the worst parts of the movie to showcase).

The saddest part? Apparently Kareena’s character goes from blaming her dad for her parents’ divorce to realizing that it’s all her mom’s fault. I just hope to the Good Lord that she doesn’t subject her own mother to this appalling movie and its sleazy sub-text.

UPDATE: Apparently great minds do think alike.

Odd Organisms via Photo Shop…aka ‘oops’!

April 21, 2009 Leave a comment

This picture from Victoria’s Secret definitely has me sniggering. Seriously, Mr/Ms Photoshopper – did you forget to add back her waist? Is the mask still on? Did you not flatten the layers right?

Or did you want to say, as the cheesy RSS papers do, that women contain dualities within them, and so they have one body’s upper half and another’s lower half?

Women and their urges. Bah!

April 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Apparently, there’s trouble in Lanka on the sets of Ravan (who knew?). And it’s all because of Aishwarya’s face. Read this and this .

Now it depends what makeup exactly Aishwarya wanted to keep for the second half. If it’s mascara or concealer, I understand her hesitation in removing it because she’ll look like her eyelashes miraculously got shorter upon abduction (which doesn’t make sense unless the story has Abhishek playing an alien abductor with a prediliction for conducting eyelash-hair-shortening-experiments) – or that she’s suddenly got splotches on her face (which doesn’t make sense unless the story has her moving to Ladakh or Australia. Ohhhhhhhhhh, wait…..).

And there’re tonnnns of instances across movies, TV shows, photographs – where make up can actually enhance the depiction of any emotion, including, say, loneliness, fragility, sickness, or ill-health. I doubt if Aishwarya Rai would be so blind to the impact on the story-telling that she showed up with pink-cheeks and rose-lips for scenes where she’s supposed to depict ‘loss and pain’.

Either way, note how the story’s spun not as artistic differences between two artists – one being a very, very successful & powerful actress who’s played a variety of characters with and without make up – but as the frustrating battle of a stalwart director with an insecure, ‘moody’ woman who ‘sneaks in makeup’ even when told not to, lest she look – bleargh – UGLY!!!!!!!11111!!!!!

Of course, if she did look ‘ugly’, these same websites would be plastering her photograph everywhere, screaming headlines of ‘Former most beautiful woman has put on 0.2 kgs!’ or ‘Bachchan bahu has a pimple’.

And if this happens to Aish-f****ng-warya, what about the rest of us?

In Sultings

March 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Dwarfs

Women

Gays

Lesbians

Los Angeles

10-year-olds

Uni-gun makers

Smokers

Non-smokers

Midgets

Fat people

Americans

Prostitutes

Belgians

Belgium

Irish

Girls

Black girls

African-Americans

Suicidal people

Depressed people

Priests

Little boys

Receptionists

Pakistanis

Skinheads

People on tranquilizers

People who know & practice Karate

Spastics

Robert Powell

R2D2

Vietnamese

Chocolate-inventers

Child abuse victims

Child abusers

Ticket/gate agents

Englishmen

Pregnant women

Small thrills

March 10, 2009 Leave a comment

Should be ‘small joys’, but the list below sent a small thrill up my leg. I remembered the first when someone was bashing all mainstream Bollywood movies, including the ones made in the last ten years (many of which I love).

  1. Usually in any Hindi movie song, the hero plays an instrument and sings along. Magically, during the song when he gets up and walks around/jiggles/dances around a tree, the instument still keeps playing on. And he plays spectacularly well, even if every thing you’ve learnt about his history so far states he had a deprived childhood with no access to education, let alone musical training. But in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, a girl plays the guitar. And not even the heroine – this is a friend who plays the guitar, not the all-knowing all-accomplished hero.
  2. In Baabul, one of the worst movies of all time w.r.t entertainment value as well as values in entertainment [1], has a scene where Hema Malini (swoon) confronts her husband when she’s not allowed to attend her son’s funeral per Hindu (north Indian) customs. woot!
  3. Aishwarya’s million-dollar expression of unabashed lust in Jodha Akbar in that scene. I wonder if too much acting was required there, but that’s another story…
    The story itself was great in terms of class-and gender-equality, in allowing a Queen, who was pretty much her Lord’s property, to have the right of self-expression and be self-willed. Coming from a filmmaker like Gowarikar who’s made fantastic movies like Lagaan and Swades but where the women were just props, I loved him for making J-A so equal. woot!
  4. The last scene in Luck By Chance with Konkana’s character dumping Farhaan’s character – and with that, her meal ticket – since he was being self-centered.
  5. Priyanka Chopra’s character in Dostana crying – not for love, for relationships, for shame, for social approval, for fear – but for a career loss (!!) when she gets passed over for a promotion. This, when a leading lady with a career was rare in the 80’s and Madhuri’s ‘computer science student’ character in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun was such big news.
  6. Konkana’s character in Amu doing the ‘search for her roots’ that’s usually the reserve of men around the world, since it is usually the man’s right and duty to carry on filial obligations and maintain/trace paternity lines.
  7. Shah Rukh and Rani’s characters together wishing for a girl child in Paheli. The movie itself was very strongly feministic, and talked about a woman’s right to choose her life partner and her destiny. It also was the rare Bollywood movie that allowed its leading characters to pick love over some random concept of family duty. And, its execution remained true to its setting and context. Excellent.
  8. Salaam Namaste: I know so many people had so many valid issues with this movie, but again, I’m grateful for small mercies. A leading lady with a career that is important to the story, earning her own money, working hard & long hours, and unconcerned about cleanliness in the house vs. her neat-freak male partner (YAAAAAYYYY!!!)
  9. Chokher Bali. The book was depressing in the extreme, and so’s the movie, because it reinforces old tropes of all women being sexual rivals of each other, no woman being worthy of your trust, widows as sexual predators, men as easy, innocent victims to manipulative women’s wiles, etc. But I liked that the movie showed a woman with a spine, even if by the end her spine, spirit and self are all crushed, even if she’s ultimately a victim of social mores and her she’s shown to have no control over her life or her destiny. Gosh, that was depressing – not sure if this still should be in this list!
  10. Dor – Both Gul Panag’s character as well as Ayesha Takia’s were feminists in their own ways. Of course, this one followed regional stereotypes, movie-making stereotypes, and may not even be a mainstream, masala Bollywood movie by most standards. And sadly, the women were strong not by themselves or ‘just because’; they were strong in their search for lost husbands or in their escape from rape, both situations that ‘allow’ for strength in women in a patriarchal context (other traditionally approved situations include saving your child from hunger/horror, fighting for your nation, nurturing your mother/family, etc.). But it was a good movie because it attempted to tell a woman’s story, at least showcase her voice. Small thrills, indeed.
  11. Aaja Nachle: the whole darn movie! The fact that Madhuri was back, and looking better and acting better and dancing better than ever. God, peeps, give this woman more movies, was positively glowing in every frame of this one. The fact that she didn’t need Akshaye to step in and help her out. The fact that she was not just a spirited fighter, she was also a master diplomat (watch the scene when she deflates the local goons gunning for her show with ‘this is so bharatiya, as opposed to a shopping mall, ji). The fact that she and her friend make up with each other (does that help the movie pass the Bedchel test?). Sadly, her counsel to Konkana when the younger girl is failing in love, to act feminine and play hard to get, was so cliched and all Rules-ey. Take it from one who did the opposite – the Rules often fail miserably, especially when your guy has a brain!
  12. Swades: The heroine does math! Long division! The numerical kind, not the family-feud variety! She does it in her head!
    And, she’s the first to declare to her boyfriend that she loves him [2]. Blub.
  13. Chak De India. Despite the fact that the film used a male authority figure and therefore reinforced traditional lines of control and leadership, despite the fact that it reinforced regional stereotypes and prejudices, despite the fact that it was marginally homophobic, despite the fact that it didn’t even examine class barriers, and despite the fact that almost all the characters save Shah Rukh’s were uni-dimensional, Chak De nevertheless was a ground-breaking movie. It showed that women could legitimately have outside interests, that women didn’t need to be either doormats or angry mis-fits, that women could play sports, that women could compete and be petty but still make up and fight/play together for the team, that women could be stunningly pretty and feminine and still be good sportspersons, that women could be conventionally ugly and ‘masculine’ and still be good sportspersons, that women could be boring-looking and still be good sportspersons, that women could legitimately express themselves with violence in public, that the various mediums of physical expression were still available to women (see this post and this one). And of course, it showed us (after Swades) that Shah Rukh Khan can actually act. Which is a feat in itself.

So, anyway, there’s my starting list. I’m sure I’ll add to this in time, too. Yay for Bollywood!

[1] sorry! 🙂

[2]Oh, and the best part – P openly gushed when her saw her do that. How I love my guy. 🙂