Reflections on images

  • 14/07/1995

How does one form ones own identity and how does this identity affect our attitude and the societies attitude towards people? It is this aspect of mind and images that is dealt with in this video. As in one of its earlier videos, the TISS uses examples from the advertising world to illustrate how images are created and biases instilled in society by the media.

Not only images but words too have a major impact on the unwary mind. For instance, the word 'barbarian' is derived from the Greek word babaroi which meant who could not speak Greek. Similarly, the adjective savage stems from the Greek word sauvage which meant the people of the forest. Yet, the careless modern usage of these words conjours up negative images and its reference is derogratory in nature. So, the people living in the forests are seen as savages meaning cruel and uncivilised. This in reality undermines the people belonging to the forest and their right to their way of living.

The Siyaram Suitings advertisement shows the natives in just such a light. A Thums up advertisement shows the people dressed in their traditional attire as ruthless dacoits and plunderers, while a couple clad in Western outfit drinking Thums up are depicted as the stronger ones who manage to win the others over with a bottle of Thums up.

Another ad chosen to further strengthen the idea is of Ortem fans. In this, persons from different states keep trying to pronounce the brand name but fail to do so because of their regional accents. And finally the winner is a cosmopolitan man who does not have any identity of his own and who is but a clone of the western culture. This is shown as the supremacy of all that is western.

Other ads explore the imposition of consumeristic attitudes in the man-woman and family relationships. Taking references from Sant Kabir, Lewis Caroll's Alice in Wonderland and Michel Faucault, the video goes on to explore the idea of construction of selfhood. It then goes on to suggest to the viewer to reexamine the praxis of identity.

The above examples are also used to express the confusion in the mind of youngsters and their identity especially after the Bombay riots. Differences in identity are necessary and need to accepted as such. One jarring aspect of this thought provoking clip is the background music that is on throughout. The flute and the sitar seem a little out of place with the fairly good animation.

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