12 Sep 2014


Plastic People and Our Universe. 

I work in advertising where we think we have perfected the art of amplifying a benefit or a problem to emotionally drive a person to buy a product and maybe make it a habit.

Advertising people earnestly believe in the power of advertising because we see it work most of the time. Even if most of the advertising is lost in the airwaves the moment it appears or become fish wrap the next day, the truth is that they work. Since they work, a lot of advertising also gets made and in the process, the amplification that we create progressively gets louder.  Then, there are communication that are deliberately subtle to stand out in a world that is screaming. And social media came to the rescue and made word of mouth fashionable. Now, social media is starting to amplify things louder than the older advertising ever could.

What has this got to do with slipper with laxmi's feet design?

Nothing much but an observation of use of symbols that people who advertise use to attract attention.

Painted rangoli that's fresh in the morning and when the midnight flower blooms and a slipper that never wears but ages like Hema Malini, strong from within because of what it is made of (Hema Malini dances to good health I assume) but there's something about her skin that shows her age. We in advertising are working hard to make you believe that it can all be perfected.

We have the primed perfect prime minster.
Our words are plastic. I don't believe half the words I say nor does the person listening. But we play along, and somehow things work out. Like the Prime Minister's speech from Red Fort about stopping religious and caste based fights for a few years and his party does exactly the opposite all over India. We don't even have to bother to tell the Emperor that he has no clothes. He knows and everyone knows that. We just play along. We know that what he says doesn't really matter. He is a good orator with an Image Management course from America according to newspaper reports. What does he regret about the Gujarat Riots? That he didn't manage the media well (again according to media reports which we can chose to believe or not).

When the PM decides to speak to children on Teachers' day, a few bother to ask why children and not teachers or why not on Nehru's birthday or Children's Day.

Religious people in the age of plastic.
The religious people are the ones who are most hurt by the art of plastic. They tend to become ultra orthodox and seek refuge in the books they believe in. Since they are assumed to be the word of God, there is nothing plastic about it, according to them. But unfortunately, there is no god and those words only came from men of an age with rules that fit their world and are too silly to solve their worries in our age.

Me in the age of plastic
Meanwhile at home, my son who is barely 6 has also perfected the art of plastic, which he has learnt from me without doubt. If his mother or a woman asks him, how do I look, or do I look good in this dress, he doesn't even bother to look and observe what she is wearing. He just says, it's beautiful or fine.

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