Historical figures have traditionally been known for the ideologies and beliefs they stood for. But time changes and along with it identities too experience change. Well known personalities may have been happy to see themselves reduced to brands, among a generation they hoped to inspire.
While an incorruptible man of peace has found his place on money in a highly corrupt nation, a man who fought capitalism has his face printed on credit cards. That is hilarious as much as it is ironic.
Mahatma Gandhi, India’s brand of irony
When the Hindu Mahasabha voiced a demand for removal of Mahatma Gandhi’s picture from currency notes, most people dismissed them as a handful of fanatics acting like Rakhi Sawant. But, only a few days back, ten rupee notes resurfaced from which the father of the nation was missing. Now, before conspiracy theorists get a panic attack, ten rupee notes with Gandhi’s pictures were first brought out only in 1996. Herein lies an important question. How did a man, who dedicated his life against materialism and corruption, end up on something that is synonymous with both in this day and age? Just like PK described, the father of the nation only found respect on a particular kind of paper.
While we Indians rightfully use Bapu’s picture to buy our salvation from legal troubles, we have a problem with Americans using him to sell beer. Doesn’t matter if they call Gandhi-Bot an “ideal way to seek truth, love and self purification”.
Karl Marx Master Card?
Talking of irony, another well known personality that changed the world with the power of his beliefs has been included into something that is a contrast to everything he stood for. While Marx’s ideas of communism might have faded away from eastern Germany along with the Berlin wall, Marx as a brand has managed to survive there. The Sparkasse bank in the German city of Chemnitz, decided to print Karl Marx on a credit card. This decision followed an online vote by customers in which the communist ideologue came out as a clear winner.
So in a place, where people carried him in their hearts few decades back, the new generation will carry Marx in their pockets. In the past, Renault in a bid to launch its car named ‘Dacia Revolucion’, portrayed Marx along with Castro, Mao,Gandhi and Che in a TV commercial. So much for a man who predicted doomsday for capitalism.
There are some things money can’t buy, for everything else there’s ‘Karl Marx’.
“Brand Che Guevara”, Capitalism’s cruel revenge
This one might just qualify as the biggest irony of the past century. How do you exact revenge on a person who stands strong as a symbol against economic exploitation and capitalism? Capitalist corporations came up with a sinister plan to achieve this feat, they made Che Guevara a brand. Guevara has been used to sell everything from fashion merchandise to vodka.
Millions of Che T-shirts are sold, and merchandisers make hefty profits. Back in 2001, Smirnoff was sued for using Che’s image for marketing vodka and not long ago Magnum ice-cream introduced “Cherry Guevara” flavour to capitalise on Che’s popularity. To top it all even Mercedes used his celebrity status as a marketing strategy.
The best part is that when capitalists are busy making profits at Che’s expense, most in this enlightened generation have little idea about his beliefs.
Adolf Hitler, Thailand’s favourite Telly-tubby
Here comes the story of how Hitler reached Thailand and became a ‘Telly-tubby’. Oh yes, the man ridiculed as one of the most evil and ruthless personalities in history is a rage in Thailand. The Nazi dictator’s image is used as a brand for fashion merchandise as well as a fast food chain. And that’s not all, T-shirts with panda Hitler and telly-tubby Hitler prints are highly popular in the market. That’s adorable. Wonder who has been insulted more by this graphical adventure.
As for the fast food chain, the adorable Colonel from KFC had his face replaced by that of the fuhrer. So while one used gas chambers to cruelly slaughter human beings, the other looks on at gassing as the least cruel manner to slaughter birds. Since Hitler was such a ‘cold’ blooded mass murderer, he was the best inspiration for an ice-cream brand, or at least some Indians thought so.
What next? Mossad discovers Hamas bunkers in Bangkok?
For well informed teens, Bob Marley means weed
Well this man here deserves a special mention. Bob Marley’s voice was surely soul soothing, but the words were priceless. All his life, Marley wrote songs about love and peace. He wasn’t politically active but stood against war and for equality. And, what does the new generation associate Marley with? A trendy print on fashion merchandise or simply a celebrity endorsement for smoking weed.
If that wasn’t enough, Marley’s song “iron, lion, zion” aptly found it’s way to a propaganda video made for Israeli right wing politician MK Aryeh Eldad. Well, that was an unusual representation of Marley’s “peaceful legacy”.