ABC Censorship Hoopla
God, you know it’s a good week when the ABC censors something and there’s a circus on the internet. The Gruen Transfer put up a brief for “selling the unsellable” – except this time it was for selling being fat. Please note, that’s got to be a joke about being fat, right?
So the ad agency The Foundry put together a pretty sharp, serious piece of advertising likening discrimination against fat people as being equivalent to discriminating against Blacks, Jews and gays. The ad was deemed so confrontational, the ABC censored it from broadcast.
IT was banned from TV last night, but hundreds online have watched an “insensitive” segment of The Gruen Transfer that jokes about Jews, black people and homosexuals.
And public and expert opinion is divided on whether the controversial ad produced for the ABC show was racist and discriminatory, as deemed by the ABC.
The powerful ad, part of a segment in which two ad agencies tried to sell “fat pride”, has also forced the show’s host, and comedian, Wil Anderson to reconsider his habit of telling “fat jokes”.
Shot in black and white, the ad – produced by Sydney agency The Foundry – features three people each telling extremely offensive jokes.
If you want to know what the offensive jokes were, you’ll have to click the link. I’m not reproducing them because it’s not worth my while getting bogged down in discussions about taste. People, there is no such thing as a victim-less joke that works. Humour is sadistic. That’s the point of humour. Somebody has to get it in the crotch, and when it hits you in the crotch, it hurts. But, that is point of the ad – that it’s pretty bad discriminating against fat people, just the same as it is discriminating against other types of people. It’s not exactly a difficult concept.
You can see how it got played out here.
This segment of The Gruen Transfer was scheduled to appear on the ABC-TV program on May 13, 2009. It was not approved for broadcast by the ABC. We are grateful for the ABC’s consent for us to put the material on this website, as it facilitates further debate and discussion.
This is a confronting ad. We at Gruen feel that it may be offensive to some people, but we stand by the fact that The Foundry agency made it with a considered and legitimate intent to persuade Australians to reconsider their prejudices.
It is clearly an anti-discrimination ad, an argument for tolerance, not divisiveness. As road safety advertisements sometimes use horrific accident images to make a point, so too this ad uses shock to drive home the ugliness of prejudice. It was made by a highly experienced advertising creative, winner of a Cannes Gold Lion, one of advertising’s greatest honours, for a previous anti-discrimination campaign.
As a show about advertising, we feel that it is appropriate for an audience, with fair warning, to consider and judge the ad for itself. And so we are making it available for viewing through this site.
To provide a clear context for the ad,The Foundry and JWT agencies were asked to come up with a campaign for the idea of Fat Pride, to end shape discrimination and make overweight Australians feel less humiliated by the constant public disapproval of anyone who isn’t a size 10 or under.
The following video includes not only The Foundry’s ad, but also a panel discussion with its creator about the reasons for the ad’s approach.
If you are likely to be offended by issues of discrimination in race, religion, sexuality or body size, please don’t watch.
Oh my word. Talk about a lame caveat, but there’s no pleasing the extreme radical faction of the politically correct. And the discussion that follows the ad is just bizarre. Todd Sampson makes no sense. He says the ad doesn’t work because it’s too shocking and then might be perceived to be condoning other types of discrimination by mistake. I think his political correctness switch melted down during the first joke. God knows how he’ll ever survive listening to Frank Zappa. To say the jokes are nasty, therefore the ad doesn’t work is a crappy argument that lacks any understanding of what is laid bare by the jokes. As a result Todd comes across as being a lot less intelligent than I previously thought. Well-meaning but thick as 6 planks of wood.
Wil Anderson seems almost apologetic to have kicked off the segment with a fat joke, only to see an ad Agency that took the brief ultra-seriously and come back with a very hard-hitting product.
But here’s the thing: Executive Producer Andrew Denton was quoted as saying The Foundry missed the point of the brief: “to sell being fat as a positive”. …and in the calm light of day, The Foundry missed that point. Their ad says end fat discrimination; it doesn’t say it’s good to be fat. The rest of the discussion about the nature of discrimination is somewhat tangential and redundant.
Me? I know what real discrimination is like. It’s not the jokes they tell about your ethnicity or the way you look or the way your accent might betray your native tongue. The jokes in the ad might be shocking to some, but frankly, I’ve heard worse in every which direction. Jews in Nazi ovens, Blacks riddled with drugs, homosexuals being the object of scorn and ridicule, fat people caught in the eye of a needle, all being standard tropes for nasty commentary and stereotyping. These are all things that get said and hurt.
But real discrimination is a whisper you don’t hear. It’s the quiet agreement to lock you out of the ‘mainstream’. It’s the procession of blondes on TV in a multi-cultural Australia while all the ‘ethnics ‘get paraded on SBS; it’s the coming second to a white kid at school because the duxe has to be a white kid – and if the 2 leading candidates are not white, heck, they just cancel the duxe that year – Yeah, I’ve seen that one somewhere. 🙂 The jobs you don’t get because the other candidate is white; the breaks or opportunities or the lenience from the law you don’t get because you’re not white; over and over and over again.
My point is, if those 4 white men thought those jokes were the beginning and end of discrimination – and I should include the ABC censors in on this, I have to say they have no fucking idea what discrimination is in this country. NO FUCKING IDEA.
The ABC Has No Balls
I’m trying to get my head around the ABC that censors that above ad, and the Four Corners they aired on Monday night where the trial-by-media circus has resulted in the public scapegoating of Matthew Johns.
I don’t intend to defend what Johns did. My opinions on Matthew Johns are already stated in my previous entries here and here. He did a crappy thing. The way the media has been carrying on about it, you’d think he killed somebody. So far, the New Zealand police have said they won’t re-open the case, and charges were never laid. The general public I’ve run into are of the opinion that this scapegoating is highly suspect and hypocritical.
The things I heard at the local lunch tuck shop today:
- After all, there must be some TV journos who get laid just because they’re famous. Why don’t they get outed?
- There are some regular folk who go cruising for pro athletes for sex. What about those people?
- It’s not just Matthew Johns, so why don’t they out those other players?
- Has there ever been a sport like NRL where the sport just keep stabbing its supporters in the heart over and over again?
- how is this supposed to end? With the Johns marriage breaking up or as Johns as a drug addict, derelict and homeless and dead in the gutter?
- Who is this woman ‘Claire’ and why is she saying this stuff now? Got to be money, right?
- Didn’t this woman know better than to hang around footballers?
- It was consensual, so why are they dredging this up now? If she can change her mind, can there ever be ever-lasting consent?
- Why is the media reporting about athletes’ sex lives? Why do we need to know, even if there was a revolting culture in NRL?
If you thought I was conflicted about Roger Clemens, these people were incredibly pissed off by the whole thing from Johns to Gallop to Gyngell to the Sharks to the woman ‘Claire’.
So, hooray for the ABC who were too scared to air some racist jokes that were clearly portrayed as smug, but were brave enough to throw Matthew Johns under a bus without trial, devil may care.
I’m really, really unimpressed with the ABC this week.
That being said, I’m fascinated by the fissures that are being exposed in our society as result of these two things this week. Clearly the media on the whole is out of touch with community sentiment and I’m not alone in thinking they’re fucked up.
Oh, and then there’s this:
A former work colleague of the woman at the centre of the Cronulla Sharks sex scandal involving Matthew Johns claims her co-worker bragged about the incident.
Tania Boyd has told the Nine Network that the woman in the ABC’s Four Corners report, identified as “Clare”, had boasted to her workmates about bedding several players and only contacted police five days after the alleged incident.
“She was absolutely excited about the fact. She was bragging about it to the staff and quite willing, openly saying how she had sex with several players,” said Boyd.
“We were quite disgusted about it. There was no trauma whatsoever.
“I’m disgusted that a woman can all of a sudden change her story from having a great time to then turning it into a terrible crime.
“One minute she was absolutely bragging about it, she did not know names. These names only came to light to us in the last day.
“We all just thought it was hilarious until five days later the police came to work and were horrified she had now changed her story to say she was now a victim of crime.
“It was definitely consensual, absolutely.
“She is saying she is still traumatised et cetera, well she wasn’t for five days, or four days at least, after that affair.
“I can’t work out what’s happened. Does it take five days for it to sink in?”
Make of that what you will, but that’s somebody corroborating Johns’ version of the character of ‘Clare’. The confusion alone suggests the public bonfire of Matthew Johns may have been set alight too quickly.