INDIA: Pepsi's "Gay" Commercial
In this Pepsi commercial from India, a young woman's male friend pretends to be the lover of her fiance in order to help her break up her arranged marriage. An Indian filmmaker discusses what the commercial may mean about changing attitudes towards gays:
This advert is extremely interesting comment on today’s India, as most ads and images always are. On the one hand homosexual relationships are respectfully normalized in this ad. There are no snide looks or jeers by the four parents who are shocked to realize this fact about the boy; their reactions never stoop to mockery. There are no ‘hai hai, ya allah, yeh zamana kahan ja raha hai’ (O my god, where is the world headed too) looks or reactions. From the point of view of accepting people with different (or multiple) sexual orientations, this ad is truly celebratory and the makers need to be commended for it.Obviously the person who titled this clip for YouTube feels differently.
Interestingly, however, the girl in this seemingly ‘progressive’ ad continues to be denied her agency to decide what is good or bad for her. Her power relation with her parents continues to be in the previous century, though she has 21st century friends who are cool enough to act (very soon ads will have normal homosexuals too and not just pretenders) as gays without demeaning gays. If we use Pepsi’s cola colored lens to understand young India, it looks like it is saying ‘homosexuality – okay’, ‘girls having wild male friends – okay’, ‘parents deciding who their girls should marry – okay too’.