Friday, March 25, 2016

Tea and Society

This is an ad for Lipton Red label Tea , sourced from Youtube.  It is shown often on regional TV and I have watched it in Marathi.

I often wonder how , when and why things change in our society. If at all they do .  The casting of folks in this ad is so perfect. I have met people like this. Whoever scripted this,  appears to be a great observer of human behaviour and double standards in society. . 

I grew up at a time when there was no TV. Only radio. No ads. Societies then had different standards, that basically trickled down from older days, and "inconvenient"  thinking was blithely pushed away , in favor of good old hand-me-down standards .

   And it intrigues me to think about what kind of reactions this ad might have evoked then , vis a vis , now.

Circa 1950's , the fellow's role would have elicited  nods of approval. "Sensible" conservative thinking,  "prudent" unsmiling  behaviour;  "I-told-you-so" reactions to the wife not able to find the key she is sure she put in her purse; "Pat-on-the-back, that's-my-son"  reactions to the guy coming up with concerns of his wife's knees paining. With a knowing disregard for the timing of that statement.  The woman (wife), with excellent acting skills, highlighting the "Now, wouldn't you know..."  twist the story takes, when they decide to go in for the offered cup of tea.   And so on . 

More than half a century later, circa 2016 ,with millions of channels and TV ads ,   such guys still exist.  The lost key and the need to wait for whoever to land up, is implied as the lady's fault.  Unsmiling reactions to the hospitable neighbor lady.  Then the guy gets distracted by the fragrance of the tea, as it wafts out of the main door of the neighbors. Still maintaining his  unsmiling countenance, he hears his wife say how inviting the smells of tea are, emanating from the neighbor's open front door.   

He could have taken a deep breath, smiled, and said ,"Yes,  so true, why don't we take her up on her offer and share a cup while we wait ? " .  

But no.  The so called image of a benevolent man of the house, must be maintained.  His wife's knees are suddenly in the picture. Her knee pain tugs at his heart springs , or should I say taste buds.  He zeros in on them as an excuse . And very clearly impresses no one when he says "Your knees must be bothering you; lets go into their house and wait. ".  What follows is a hearty tea session with the fellow shamelessly asking for seconds.

 I don't know who he thinks he is fooling.

It tells you nothing has changed in sections of society which attributes  a plethora of qualities to someone the minute he belongs to a certain sex. These sections of society , still applaud the fellow's generosity in showing concern for his wife's knees. And the sudden catapulting and going in for tea ?  Aiiyo, why mention the knees ?  One needs to be thrilled at the feet crossing the threshold to have tea !

I don't think the maker of this ad set out to show a universal truth regarding human evolution in patriarchal societies.

 But every time this ad appears, I get the same reaction.  I just wonder how everyone else reacts and whether anyone is bothered by the fellows opportunistic fake behaviour.

Or am  I, not much of a tea drinker ,  making an unusually big strong brew from a handful bunch of tea leaves ?  

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