An advertisement showing an inter-faith marriage by jewelry brand Tanishq has become the talking point of desi Internet. There's nothing golden about it, though.
In case you missed it, here's a recap. On Monday, an advertisement of Tanishq went viral. In the jewelry brand's advertisement, a Hindu woman who is married into a Muslim family is set for her baby shower. Her in-laws are shown to have gone to great lengths to make their daughter-in-law feel comfortable-- by performing Hindu rituals.
What on the surface seems like an ad about unity between families, the cancel culture brigade turned it into something else: "Love jihad."
Love Jihad or Romeo Jihad is a conspiracy theory that alleges that Muslim men target women belonging to non-Muslim communities in order to convert them to Islam by feigning love and marrying them.
The commercial is a part of Tanishq’s current festive season's collection 'Ekatvam'.
People started trending #BoycottTanishq after the outrage.
Tanishq, eventually pulled the ad down on Tuesday, amidst much speculation and lots of people protesting the pulling down of the ad itself as a regressive move, and giving in to trolls.
But it didn't end there. While many wondered why the ad that celebrated love was seen to be problematic, the response they were met with was, 'If roles were reversed (a Muslim bride married into a Hindu family), it would result in 'Charlie Hebdo.'
Late on Tuesday night, for the first time since the controversy and pulling of the ad, Tanishq put out a public statement on why it decided to withdraw the advertisement.
In the statement, they explained "the idea behind the Ektavam campaign is to celebrate the coming together of people from different walks of life, local communities and families during this challenging time and celebrate the beauty of oneness. This film has stimulated divergent and severe reactions, contrary to its very objective. We are deeply saddened with the inadvertent stirring of emotions and withdraw this film keeping in mind the hurt sentiments, and the well being of our employees, partners and store staff."
Tanishq's explanation started a new wave of hate.
Read @TanishqJewelry apology carefully Apparently, 'Tanishq' ends up accusing Hindus of being a violent community, instead of a simple apology. Hence #BoycottTanishq continue pic.twitter.com/Ref9LgRivT — Gaurav Pradhan 🇮🇳 (@OfficeOfDGP) October 13, 2020
You are using a Hindu festival to normalize heinous crimes wElL bEiNg oF sTaFF? - Have you ever thought of well being of Hindu women were killed & stuffed in suitcases? This is not an apology, it's victim blaming. #BoycottTanishq https://t.co/T0aanbIoUI — Squint Neon (@TheSquind) October 14, 2020
But Tanishq mentioning the safety of their staff was poignant - because the online trolling wasn't limited to just online trolling.
A report in Ready to Melt highlighted how people reached out to the author of the opinion piece in confidence, to report that, "An employee of Tanishq – and his family – was trolled mercilessly and threatened with his life."
There are also reports that reveal Tanishq's Brand Manager was hunted down on Linkedin and bombarded with death threats. He was forced to delete his account following the threats.
The Brand Manager of Tanishq got life Threats by Tolerant People. He was forced to even delete his Linked-in Profile. His Mobile Number was circulated. This was what forced the Brand to Withdraw their Ad pic.twitter.com/6YEWtC7Sk3 — Joy (@Joydas) October 13, 2020
When cancel culture or 'boycott' of a brand starts having real-life consequences on individuals who are associated with the brand, and not the brand as an entity in itself, it stops being just 'cancel culture'. It starts becoming a hate movement-- where one individual gets targetted and in turn made the scapegoat as the world of online trolls turn into vigilantes. The Tanishq's boycott appears to have already delved into that.