31/03/2015 2:31 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

The Vogue Empower Video With Deepika Has Serious Problems

Vogue India

There are serious problems with the latest VogueEmpower "My Choice" video, and I don't just mean the electrocuted hair.

To begin with, its creators haven't identified what they are trying to achieve with this inane euphemism for a "public message", nor what their demographic really is, or rather, what it should be. News flash: celebrities and women who read Vogue , and who can afford to buy the merchandise advertised therein, are already empowered to exercise the kind of choices recommended by Deepika Padukone; they don't need her to tell them that.

So, if the fashionable elite is the target audience, the aim of the public message should be to raise awareness about women who don't have choices -- women who constitute the majority in India -- and to get the advantaged to use their privilege to lobby for change at a social, educational and legislative level. If, however, the message is aimed at the general public, then suggesting that the majority of Indian women should emulate Deepika's enactment of a spoiled brat in a Virginia Slims-appropriated you've-come-a-long-way-baby manner, is a recipe for disaster.

Frankly, besides being entirely beside-the-point in its conceptualisation, packed with weird hyperbole and subliminally reinforced stereotypes, and having laughably illiterate pretentions to performance poetry ("I am the universe, infinite in every direction..."), it borders on reckless endangerment.

"My choice. To have sex before marriage. To have sex outside of marriage." Perhaps filmmaker Homi Adajania never heard of honour killings in this country. This message replicates the negligence of a previous Vogue video advocating that a girl with car trouble on a deserted road should feel "empowered" to make friends with a bunch of random guys in an SUV. Sending out messages on public TV that encourage young women to make choices that could get them raped or killed is hardly the function of social advocacy. I would be furious at this mindless bandwagoneering were I not already numbed by a daily bludgeoning of it in the media.

My advice to Vogue India: If you want to practice social advocacy with public messages, hire someone with the appropriate background and expertise to direct them. If the messages are designed to raise awareness about women's empowerment, get a feminist director, or at least consult one. (Since it's Vogue, and if you're going for style, let me remind you that not all feminists in this country are the army boot variety.)

Finally, if you want your message to sound like poetry, hire a poet.

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