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.