Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Small things irk me

Have you ever been angry at bread?

That's how I feel every time I see the 'Has New Zealand gone soft?' ad which is currently screening. It's the one showing a children's party where a kid on a tricycle wears a helmet, a fire extinguisher is on hand near the birthday cake, the pinata yields carrot sticks, and the kids play 'cowboys and native indigenous Americans'.

It seems this strange ad is trying to act as some sort of rallying point for disgruntled rednecks. I don't appreciate the homophobic/sexist undertones of 'going soft'. I really don't understand why using a patronising, inaccurate and potentially offensive racial term shows strength of character. (To me, it suggests a lack of the most basic maturity, respect and courtesy.) And I know people have different, valid arguments about whether we let our kids take enough risks - but whatever your view, I think the issue is important enough to warrant some thoughtful debate.

Just when I thought this ad couldn't irk me more, I discovered the website it promotes. Supposedly promoting bread, this website polls punters on whether bullrush should be allowed at schools again, and - wait for it - whether criminals should have fewer rights. All this on a bright, bubbly website, which looks like it's designed to appeal to kids. What the hell? If the ad could perhaps be dismissed as a dumb joke, the website borders on sinister.

This ad/website promotion irks me in so many uncomfortable ways that I can't quite put a finger on all of them. In the same week that a 23 year old prisoner was beaten to death by other inmates, the website glibly puts treatment of criminals in the same basket of social issues as carrot sticks. It encourages an anti-intellectual, mocking response to a bunch of serious questions, and dismisses people who care about stuff like child safety as somehow pathetic or weak.

In fact, 'Has New Zealand gone soft?' looks like braindead, macho posturing to me. I'd like to say more about it, but I have to go cast some racial slurs as I play bullrush in a stridently heterosexual way. While eating bread.

10 comments:

The Paradoxical Cat said...

The evil empire and their paid-up flunkies are having a field day aren't they?

Deborah Hill Cone, writing in the Feb 28 Listener, says: "I'm proud of my feisty young nephew" (a uni student) who "rants about Gaza and is very earnest and idealistic. I was just as revoltingly sincere and misguided when I was 20, although the trendy heroes were John Pilger and Baudrillard, and the cause du jour was apartheid."

So opposing apartheid is 'misguided', and something to grow out of. I guess that would be 'soft' too.

Azlemed said...

I heard some mums at school discussing this ad the other day, I personally hate the ad it makes me feel sick.. but the mums were like oh yeah it quite good etc.... and we are too soft etc...

I arent too soft as the ad puts it, I just find it offensive and arent going to buy tiptop bread

Giovanni said...

So opposing apartheid is 'misguided'

Either that, or trendy I suppose. Amazing the depths of shallowness that Ms Hill-Cone is able to plunge.

Maia said...

Thanks for this Anna - I'm with you every step of the way on the awfulness of this advertisement. What sort of bread is it for. I may start a useless personal boycott to make me feel better.

The ex-expat said...

That is why I love my sky, just zip through all the annoying advertisements like this.

A Nonny Moose said...

The first time I saw this ad I understood they were going about the discussion of our risk aversive society the wrong way.

But at least they started the conversation. I'm tired of the "Oh you overly political correct liberals" oldies vs the moral panic youngies.

I'm happy to have something trying to bring the conversation into the public forum, even if it is a dumb ad for bread.

Paul said...

I am so glad I do not watch television.

Since the admen want to use political issues to sell bread (the website has a poll on life sentences, for Gaia's sake) perhaps we should start a discussion on the politics of breadmaking. We could, for a start, ask what goes into their bread, whether it has nutritional value, whether the breadmaking workforce has union representation, etc, etc.

hungrymama said...

Surely worrying about the nutritional content of bread is just the kind of pansy-arsed behaviour they are railing against.

Paul said...

Well, yes, which is all the more reason for suspicion of a bread company which takes to braying about political correctness.

Lita said...

This ad irks me too. And they insult carrots! Are they crazy?