Anil Thakraney: Movies & ads don’t create rapists

25 Jan,2013

By Anil Thakraney


I was watching Justice Verma’s press conference with both, enthusiasm and amusement. Enthusiasm, obviously because we were all keen to know what the committee had in store for desi women. And I was amused because the Justice and his team members reminded me of my strict school principal and teachers. A whole lot of nice theoretical lessons being belted out, with no road map on implementation. This is India for you. A nation of great thinkers and ideators, but a nation of very poor executors. Anyway, let’s see how the recommendations play out on the ground, though I suspect we shall see very little real change.


However, I am glad that in the 360 degree approach taken by the committee to protect Indian women, the use of ‘item songs’ in Bollywood flicks and the ‘objectification’ of women in advertising was left out of the menu. These two issues have been discussed to death on TV chat shows, post the Delhi gang rape, so I was expecting the committee to issue an edict on these too. Happy they ignored the heated telly debates.


This is because I strongly believe movies and ads have a very limited role to play in influencing social behavior. Think about this: If movies could affect people, we would have been a nation of a billion noble citizens, as films almost always tell us that good wins over evil. Clearly, no one believes that after the butter popcorn is done. By the same logic, item songs and semi-nude hotties can’t be contributing to rape. Cinema is an entertainment medium, and that’s how it’s viewed by the masses. Today’s blockbuster is tomorrow’s cheap, street DVD.


Ditto for ads. TV commercials and press ads have been featuring beautiful women for years and years. And these gals attract attention to the product, and that’s all they do, nothing more, nothing less. Nobody wants to buy from ugly people. Again, if ads were contributing to rapes, the all pervasive nature of this medium would have turned millions of us men into rapists and molesters. And that’s not happened.


The problem of crimes against women and children finds its roots in two factors: The way sons are brought up in India. And a weak law enforcement machinery. These are the things that need to be sorted out. And am happy the Verma committee mainly focused on them. Meanwhile, please let’s continue with the beauties in cinema and ads. Without them, the nation will become a very boring place.




PS: The memorable Lance Armstrong/Nike ad. And to think it was an anti-doping commercial! Must say the words have turned out to be quite prophetic. There should be a case study done on how the champ’s confession damages Nike, the brand, because of their powerful association.


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