Inquisitive Slaps
50 questions, inquisitive slaps, 2020

Does branding promote stereotyping?

My first interaction with racist stereotyping against Indian people was at the age of five when I watched the movie Annie (1982). There was a particular character named Punjab who was this awkward Magical Ethnic Minority stereotype, supposedly of Indian Origin!

As a child I remembered being so confused because he didn’t look like us, neither did he act like us at all. He was a mix of Aladdin-arabian nights-esque aesthetic with the face of an African american person, the only thing Indian about him was his turban and his name, which by the way, no one is ever named “Punjab” in India, it is the name of a state not a person. Being a child, hoping to see someone from a country of my ethnicity in a movie is exciting but this portrayal made me sad. For years later, I saw people “branding” India with peacocks, monkeys, elephants and snake charmers. It made me so confused! Feels like whoever visited India to start branding it like this only visited the tourist spots and forests? I believe this is an in-general issue with identity design, which ends up stereotyping parts of it to glorify those bits and ignoring the rest. Surface level identity design like this can be dangerous, and leads to bigger things like racism, sexism etc. These days however, it is interesting to see that the identity of something to be defined by the branding which is the opposite of what branding started out to be.