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Every Little Helps

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

On Diversity in Advertising

Huzzah! Bob told me about it, but I've just now seen it for myself: the new Jetta ad has only Indians in it. And they're normal people with American accents and trouble with hyperactive kids. Joy!

Lest ye fear I've fallen into the clutches of mindless quota liberalism, let me reassure you: I haven't. I don't care whether or not the number of Indians in advertisements is the same as their percentage in the population. I'm glad that they're being put in as people, as average car-owning types, and I'll only make a fuss about it this once.

I'll make a fuss about it once, as well, the first time I see an American of Indian descent as one of the lead characters in a movie, with as little fuss made about race as is made about black-white couples in movies like the latest James Bond (or like Denzel Washington in "Much Ado About Nothing," for that matter). And by "fuss" I mean fuss within the movie. If people viewing the movie want to see it as a triumph or a scandal, that's fine. But the movie makes no issue of it. First we'll have to have a "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," I'm sure -- and not a fringe movie, either, like "Bhajji on the Beach" or "My Son the Fanatic," but a mainstream movie with known stars like Tracy, Hepburn, and Poitier, dealing with it as a Big Event. I suppose that's a stage that has to be gone through, before they can start treating such couples as normal, and stop expecting everyone to be an Apu or CNN's Sanjay Gupta with an added accent.


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