Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Micromax’s new Canvas Selfie is a shockingly sexist phone

Ladies, listen up: Micromax has a new phone for you, especially if you’re “image conscious” (their words, not ours). It’s called the Canvas Selfie and it features a powerful 13-megapixel front camera to make sure that every pore and blemish on your face stands out in lurid detail. Since those aren’t exactly the kinds of things you want ending up on your Instagram, the ingenious engineers at Micromax have built in “great beauty editing tools to look glamorous always.” (their words, not ours).
Here are some features of the camera on the Canvas Selfie from a press release we received from Micromax: 

- Eye Enhancement, which makes eyes bigger and brighter.
- Face Slimming, which helps give you high cheek bones and gets rid of double chins.
- Skin Smoothening, which helps remove all blemishes. 
- Oil Removal, to get rid of oil patches. 
- Make up effects like mascara, eye-shadow, blush and lip gloss.

It’s a miracle the phone doesn’t ship with a copy of Photoshop, but that’s probably because someone at Micromax HQ decided that Photoshop is too complex for women to use anyway. 

Micromax's Canvas Selfie smartphone 
This isn’t the first time a technology company has patronized its female customers in its marketing. Last year, Samsung’s launch of the Galaxy S4 in New York City was an unholy mess. The company put on a Broadway-style performance that used sexist gags to show off the features of its new phone. For instance: a bachelorette party skit featured women saying the S4’s Air Gesture feature would be useful as they dried their newly-polished nails. The phone also used its Smart Pause feature to halt a video a drunken woman was watching as she took in a shirtless gardener who was walking around on stage.
The worst culprits are gaming companies, whose marketing departments seem absolutely incapable of advertising to anyone not in possession of a penis and aged between 18 and 35. When Microsoft released its Xbox One gaming console, it featured a letter on its website encouraging male fans to bring their significant others into the fold with the following message:
“Hey honey, not sure if you’ve heard, but Xbox One is now available. That means we can start playing games like Dead Rising 3. I know, I know. You’d rather knit than watch me slay zombies.”
At a time when the technology world is trying to move beyond its bro culture to engage in discussions about the Gamergate controversy, misogyny and women’s roles in the male-dominated sector, Micromax demonstrated just how tone-deaf it is. The company’s executive team, not surprisingly, doesn’t feature a single woman.
I understand that the smartphone market is a crowded market. In a sea of identical blocks of glass and metal, it’s tough to stand out and tougher to innovate. May I, therefore, suggest a version of the Canvas Selfie that targets men? If Micromax throws in a 5 o’ clock shadow-remover, a muscle definition-enhancer and a system to cover up premature greying before I Instagram my selfies, I’ll be the first one in line at my neighbourhood Croma store.

The new phone will be available for an as-yet-undisclosed price from the second week of January. If you’re still interested in checking out its specs, head here. But make sure you have a man around to explain them to you afterwards.

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