Sailaja N. Joshi

Archive for 2010|Yearly archive page

Le Sigh has Moved!

In Uncategorized on November 19, 2010 at 11:32 pm

Please visit Le Sigh at its new home,


Sailaja N. Joshi



Team CoCO x India (Oh Balle Balle!)

In Anthropology, Erwing Goffman, India, NBC on November 9, 2010 at 9:43 am

So India has been getting some love the past few weeks. First Outsourced hits NBC, then the President visits India and does some dancing, and now my man Conan.

A few sites have been trying to compare the ad with Outsourced but the  two honestly have their own space. While Conan and the team at AmEx’s ad agency had a clear vision in mind, its possible that the writers at Outsourced are just riding the stereotype train.

Here is a bit on how the ad came to be via Sepia Mutiny:

Amex has been trying to lure Mr. O’Brien into appearing in a commercial since the company sponsored his comedy tour earlier this year. Several weeks ago, Mr. O’Brien said he was finally convinced by a funny script created by WPP PLC’s Ogilvy & Mather, as well as American Express’s past ads.

Playing on Mr. O’Brien’s obsession for detail, the new ad shows the comedian taking a trip to India to search for the finest materials to make curtains for his new show. Mr. O’Brien is seen using a loom to weave the fabric; stomping on flower petals to make the dye and having a gossip session with the local washing ladies as he dyes the material.

A person familiar with the matter said AmEx paid Mr. O’Brien more than $1 million to do the commercial. [wsj]

If we’re going to use Anthropological speak (and really, we always should), then we would talk about perhaps Goffman and his presentation of self. Here in this ad, Conan is presenting himself as someone who cares about quality, down to the smallest detail. Perhaps he’s saying something about his former employee and their lack of attention to detail (see Outsourced).

So what’s your take folks? What do you think about the ad?



Question: Who should I be?

In American Dream, Branding, Presentation of Self on October 27, 2010 at 7:00 am

Answer: A Cavalier.

So, I love(d) LeBron James. I was in Cleveland his first season with the Cavs and the man is he awesome to watch. The man, moves. I like the rest of Cleveland, was pretty upset (understatement) when the man moved to the Heat. But that is all in the past.

This newest ad by Nike titled Rise gives us a glimpse into the icon that LeBron has become, or wants to be. Its hard to say whether this work is the creative genius of LeBron, or the work of their ad agency, but none the same the message is provocative. Not only that, the ad challenges our thinking of LeBron and the status we have given him in our society. Is it really his responsibility to be a role model? Should he really involve an entire state or nation in his career decisions?

The truth is, LeBron is a Cavalier. He went against what the public wanted to better himself. We as Americans should appreciate it, after all we are the country that invented the self-made man. In a society where CEOs continue to pay themselves millions of dollars in bonuses while laying off lower level workers, can you really blame LeBron for making the move?

So, what are your thoughts my readers? Who should LeBron be?

Somebody likes Outsourced (Oh wait, That’s me!)

In NBC, Outsourced, United States on October 25, 2010 at 9:19 am

Outsourced plays well in India

So the truth is, I kinda dig Outsourced. I think the writing is still pretty bad, but for some reason, I’m drawn to it. I think it has something to do with my love for Gupta.

Anyways, it turns out that I’m not the only one who loves Outsourced since NBC has signed it on for a full season. I’m happy to see that NBC is loving them some South Asian-ness. While we in America seem to be enjoying Outsourced, it turns out that has a possible fan base a few thousand miles away, in India.

A recent New York Times article talks about how call center workers in India, find the show hilarious. While many Asian-Indian Americans (myself included) criticize the show for hyping Indian stereotypes, the real Indians seem to enjoy it and state that is well, actually really what happening in their offices. They also criticize the show for not being more knowledgeable about the culture of Indian society, especially when it comes to talking about caste.  All in all, its pretty interesting to think that this show could have a fan base thousands of miles away.

So, my readers. All, 27 of you. What do you think? Should NBC transplant their show to India? How do you feel about NBC signing it on for another season? Let’s hear your thoughts!

Outsourced: The South Asian Chatter

In NBC, Outsourced on October 14, 2010 at 10:33 am

So I’ve been talking a lot of about the NBC comedy Outsourced with my friends and family. The writing is poor,  the characters are, well odd (except Gupta) and plot lines are out of left field. Worst of all, the shows writers (who are Indian) seem to know nothing about Indian culture.

In short, the comedy sucks (except for Gupta).

It turns out I’m not the only Asian-Indian American blogger talking about Outsourced. Divanee, a South Asian Lifestyle blog has been running a poll to see what its readers think of Outsourced. Here are the results:

All right, so some of the South Asian population is willing to give the show a chance. I’m not surprised, since I still tune into the show, mainly to see Gupta.

There are others, like the Sandeep of BadmashACK Comics and Post-Nup fame who are not so thrilled with the show. His latest animated creation, Doubtsource, pokes fun at the abysmal writing of Outsourced.

Doubtsource TV

I took at look at the first episode and it’s not so much funny as it does an excellent job of mimicking the plot lines of Outsourced. Aside from loving the animation (I’m an Indian comic fanatic), I love the fact that Asian-Indian Americans are creating entertainment for their peers.

So, it seems the conversation has started. We Asian-Indian Americans are making some noise about how we are being portrayed on TV. Since NBC reads my blog regularly, I hope they take note of the above and make some serious changes to the writing.

Just don’t change Gupta, because let’s face it. He’s a hottie.

Franz Boas has accepted your request.

In Facebook, Teatime Theory on October 13, 2010 at 8:54 am

Now, for those of you who have no idea who Fraz Boas is, then get on the Anthro Theory train. I love Facebook for the fact that I can now be friends with a long dead Anthropologist.


Thanks for accepting my friend request Franz, Thanks for accepting it.

Anthropology 101

In Anthropology on September 24, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Remember that time I said that Betty White was a Bad Ass Anthropologist? Turns out the people at NBC really do read my blog.

BW as I’m now going to call her, has a special guest appearance in this week’s episode of Community. I don’t know what it is, but I seriously have a love affair for this gal. And as if she weren’t already cute enough, she also raps.

Outsourced: A comedy about inclusion or assimilation?

In Anthropology, Asian-Indian Americans, India, NBC, United States on September 23, 2010 at 11:21 am


So, early in my Le Sigh Blogging career I talked about the inclusion of other ethnicities aka D-List Minorities in the marketing conversation. One of my readers made the point of noting that you know you’re part of a society once you start being made fun of. Well, it seems like Outsourced may just do that.

I ranted earlier this Summer about how the show just missed the mark in terms of inclusion. While its writers claim it is an “Office-like” comedy, I find that hard to believe. Even the promotional poster makes a point of putting the white actor in the foreground, while the Indian actors hang out in the back.

More than a comedy about including Indians as part of the conversation, this comedy is about assimilation. Simply put, it looks as though a white guy ends up in India and comedy, confusion and love ensue.

Here is the big question on my mind, should we Asian-Indian Americans applaud the fact that we’re part of this picture at all? Should we get excited and “tune in,” simply because there are some Indian actors in this show?

Maybe, but I like to think that our society can progress much further. I cannot predict whether Outsouced will be a hit or a miss, but I can say it is far from inclusive of the D-List minorities. Being inclusive of D-List minorities would mean including an Indian character in one of the many Doctor Drama shows that are out there, or perhaps even a Jewish doctor.

There are so many stereotypes of Indians. Most of them have to do with us being dorks, studying a lot and then becoming some sort of doctor or engineer. We’re also really bad at anything athletic (save maybe tennis) and our version of the Olympics is actually what most people call the National Spelling Bee.

My point is, there are a lot of Indian Stereotypes. None of which (seem) to be addressed in the comedy Outsourced.  So, let’s call Outsourced what it truly is, a comedy about assimilation.

“It” Beauty: Where tradition and globalization collide.

In Presentation of Self, Social Change, Uncategorized, United States, Women in Society on September 16, 2010 at 9:44 am

CNN recently published an article entitled, “Is ethnic beauty the new ‘it’ factor?” Now the fact that we’re having this conversation makes me incredibly excited because it means America, is starting to accept a wider definition of beauty.

The article goes on to talk about how there has been a great call for ethnic women (Beyonce, Kim Kardashian) in fashion magazines in an effort to appeal to a global ideal of beauty. In addition, more white women are tanning and straightening their hair in an effort to emulate their Asian sisters.

It’s wonderful that the definition of beauty is beginning to expand to include other races, though I can’t help but think that this article is a bit short sighted. It discusses how American (read: white) women are changing their bodies in order to emulate a more ethnic ideal. I’m glad American women are embracing their ethnic roots, or wannabe ethnic roots, but what about the REST of us non-white Americans?

So we talk about American women embracing an ethnic ideal, but perhaps it’s the other way around for women of ethnicity? Let’s take our girl Beyonce for example. She’s curvy. She’s tan. And she’s got, (hold the phone) blond hair.

Now, considering Beyonce’s roots and ethnicity, I’m to go ahead and say she’s not a natural blond. In fact, she’s probably far from a natural blond, but the point here is that she morphed herself to meet an image. And that image at the time, was that of (perhaps) a Stepford Wife.

It is telling that she, as a women of ethnicity, was attempting to morph herself into an image of ‘ideal American beauty.’ It seems to me that while CNN reported about white women going ethnic, they failed to point out that some ethnic women are going white.

In the world of Anthropology, we often talk about the Anglo-perspective. Where, we as Americans considering our point of view, to be the world’s point of view. With globalization though, we are quickly learning that we are NOT the only one’s on this planet and in fact, our perspective is very often not shared globally.

I think this CNN Article, does an excellent job of pointing out the shift in ideal beauty in America, but does so from a decidedly Anglo perspective. As we embrace ‘ethnic’ beauty, perhaps its time we also examine ethnic beauty and understand how THAT is shifting in this global marketplace. Moreover, how do we define ethnic beauty in this global world? Is it simply the opposite of what the norm once was or is it something more?

Only time, and this Anthropologist, will tell.