Fat acceptance and Oppression Olympics fail on The Gruen Transfer

Via the Sarahs at Saucy Sisters, some massive adfail on ABC show The Gruen Transfer. TGT was going to look at a “fat pride” advertisement that combines the Oppression Olympics and -ist-humour tropes tonight. The show, which played the Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) Wedding Speech child-rape-jokes ad in the past, usually bills itself as a hard-hitting critique of advertising.

But they pulled the segment from the air – because it was offensive to black people, Jewish people, and gay people.

The ad was made by agency The Foundry in Sydney, and was commissioned by The Gruen Transfer itself in their “The Pitch” segment, in which they challenge ad agencies to “sell the unsellable“. In this case, “the unsellable” was considered to be fat acceptance. There’s your first fail right there.

The unairable ad and discussion was not approved for the ABC site either, but they have given permission for it to be hosted on an external site, antiprejudicead.net. Here’s the ad (warnings apply, people telling extremely offensive “jokes”):

For full video of the ensuing discussion amongst the gaggle of white male panellists, click through to antiprejudicead.net. Here’s a transcript [long, so I’ve bolded a few key bits, my thoughts are below]:

[Opening music]

[Ad plays]

[Sixties white-appearing male]: How do black women fight crime? Have abortions. [snigger]

[Thirties white-appearing woman]: How do you stop a poofter from drowning? You take your foot off his head. [unpleasant smile]

[Forties Asian or biracial-appearing man]: What’s the difference between Santa Claus and a Jew? Santa Claus goes down the chimney. [laugh]

[Thirties white-appearing man with five o’clock shadow]: Why did God create alcohol? So fat chicks could get a root. [smirk, eyebrow-raise]

[White print on black background, voiceover]: Discrimination comes in all shapes and sizes.

[logo] FAT PRIDE

Wil Anderson [host, in suit and tie]: Look, Adam, that’s very tough viewing. What’s your experience in making anti-discrimination ads?

Adam Hunt [ad creator, in T-shirt and beanie]: I worked on an account called The Commission for Racial Equality at Saatchi & Saatchi in London, and it was a Government anti-racism board. And I did this ad that used humour to attack racists. Here’s the one I made earlier, and it looks like this.

three normal sized brains, marked AFRICAN, EUROPEAN, ASIAN. One tiny brain, marked RACIST

Adam Hunt: A lot of people loved that ad, and a lot of racists hated it, so much so that the British National Party, who’s like the bastard cousin of One Nation, made an official complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority, which they lost.

Todd Sampson [in black T-shirt with pixelated Kermit picture]: You can’t really compare those ads, because the ad that we just saw is not a quarter as good as the ad that was made in London.

Wil Anderson: What I really want to do is get behind the thought – where was your thought here? What were you trying to do when you made this ad for us?

Adam Hunt: Sure. Look, for me, the brief came down to three words: End Shape Discrimination. Anyone who’s ever been discriminated against knows that it’s not funny. So for me, the usual agency response to the pitch which was, you know, “let’s be funny, let’s make a gag, let’s make people laugh” wasn’t going to work here. Because any idea that made you laugh at fat people was actually going to celebrate shape discrimination, it wasn’t going to end it. So, um, you know – I was a bit stuck for an idea, and I went to the pub with a mate to play some pool. And as it happened, a really, really big girl walked past, and my mate cracked a fat-chick joke. And I laughed. And, um, I then, I literally choked on that laugh – beer went everywhere – because it was, it was wrong. It was wrong, and I had an epiphany about shape discrimination starting with laughing at a fat chick joke. So from that moment, it was about elevating shape discrimination to an unacceptable level.

Wil Anderson: So, was this the idea, was to take other unacceptable, you know, discriminations, like the most outrageous unacceptable discriminations, and put the shape discrimination on a level with those?

Adam Hunt: Well, yeah. I mean, discrimination is discrimination. And that’s my point.

Wil Anderson: Yeah. And uh, there was the tone of the other jokes used in the ad, more than anything, I think that took some people’s breath away. Did you ever think you’d pushed it too far?

Adam Hunt: I think the point is to say that if you discriminate against somebody on the basis of their shape, then you’re no different from somebody who is racist, homophobic, or anti-Semitic.

Wil Anderson: Did you worry that those jokes would, ah, people would miss the point by the end of it, because the jokes were so full-on, that, you know, that by the time people got to the end of the ad they would already have been distracted by the sharpness of the taking-your-breath-away humour before that?

Todd Sampson:I didn’t get past the black one. I mean, that’s all I remember, was the, how to stop crime – abortion – you know, that was it.

Bram Williams [in blue T shirt with “PUBLIC SCHOOL LEAGUE” on it]: I’m with you, Todd. I think that was what caught us by surprise on the panel judging it at the time , was the shock value was so intense that it almost became difficult to actually see beyond that. To go through what is actually quite simple logic behind what makes the ad work – we were struck so heavily from the outset that we couldn’t get to that conclusion within the space of thirty seconds.

Russel Howcroft: We had a chat afterwards, and I think that the strategy is really clear, I think that it’s a really sound strategy. I think that the execution is amazing. And as I’ve said, I think on the day, I think having the balls to do it I think was, y’know, good on them for having the balls…

Todd Sampson: Amazing in what way?

Russell Howcroft: What they’re saying is, to people watching the commercial about shape discrimination, they’re saying, categorically: “You think that these jokes – they are pointing out that discrimination is bad, around black people, around Jews”, and everyone nods, they all nod, “Well, this one is just as bad.”

Wil Anderson: Maybe the point of an ad like this, though is to say to people – I mean, people are never going to equate fat discrimination – look, I make fat jokes myself. I’ve made them on this show. You know? I made a joke about a guy eating a Bankwest pony. You know? And I guess what Adam was trying to do, and I don’t want to put words in your mouth, is to equate that sort of discrimination with things I would never do, which is to make fun of Asians or to make fun of Jews or to make fun of black people.

Adam Hunt: Exactly, exactly. Look, that came from that moment, and it really was an epiphany moment for me, when I laughed at the joke in the pub. Because it was at that stage of the creative process where I had like fifty scripts from the agency, and I was really struggling with which direction to go, and that moment made me realise that this brief was talking to me. You crack fat chick jokes, I crack fat chick jokes…

Bram Williams: Yeah but intellectually, that works. Intellectually that works. In the real world, the question is whether or not all viewer are going to process that communication in that way.

Todd Sampson: Yeah, I have two issues with it, which I’ve said to you after the show, and yeah. I don’t think it’s brave to do that, because it’s easy to offend. It is. It’s easy to offend people, and make people watch that ad. The two issues I have with it: first is, I don’t think you need to offend one group to help another…

Bram Williams: Hear hear. Hear hear.

Todd Sampson: …I don’t think that you necessarily have to do that, and I think the damage is…

Bram Williams: It’s collateral damage.

Todd Sampson: …I hate to say this after all the issues we’ve been through, but it is ASCA-esque. So it is a bit of a laugh, and then you kind of go, “well, that’s uncomfortable.”

Adam Hunt: Yeah, I don’t agree with you, I totally don’t agree with you.

Todd Sampson: Well hold on, let me finish. And then I’ll be happy to hear, because I’m interested, in how you got there. The second issue I have is purely from a communication construction point of view. Because – I don’t know if it’s gender, or you feel you’re offending – but apart from that, for me, the structure of the communication doesn’t work. Because you do not – there will be very few people who have seen that who will actually remember the fat joke. Which is the intention of the ad, to bring up fat, which is the strategy, to bring fat up to that level of discrimination, with the others. Very few people will get that. Because they will have been blocked by the first. So structurally in the ad, you just remember the harsh ones, and you don’t remember actually what it’s for.

Wil Anderson: OK, OK. But I’d like to hear Adam speak.

Adam Hunt: Look. I hear where you’re coming from. But for me, discrimination is the most offensive thing. You know, discrimination’s ugly. And if you want somebody to stop doing something, you’ve gotta show them how ugly it is. Maybe some of those jokes went too far, but my point was to say that if you discriminate against somebody on the basis of their shape, you’re no different from those other forms of discrimination.

Russell Howcroft: Yeah, I’m not sure that – I – I don’t know. Would the others that are the butt of that joke, would they – I’m not sure that they would be offended. Would they not say, “Yeah, I can go with this, because i have been…”

Todd Sampson [looking a bit pissed off]: If you’re a Jewish guy and you’re watching that ad, you’re not thinking about fat discrimination. You’re thinking “One, I can’t believe that’s been on television”, or in this case, on a webisode, and two, you’re thinking, “Why would you publicly have a go at me to help discrimination?” [cries of interruptions] So you’ve just taken discrimination from that side …

Russell Howcroft: You’re not having a go. You’re not having a go. You’re not having a go.

Wil Anderson: But none of those – I will argue that none of those characters in that ad are sympathetic. I hated every single person in that ad.

Adam Hunt: Correct. Yeah.

Wil Anderson: Like the performances worked for me, in that all those people seemed mean, all those people seemed nasty. It got the point that they were nasty people.

Todd Sampson: But structurally, Adam, you could have paced it differently. You could have started off a bit lighter, to allow you to process.

Adam Hunt: Do you know what? Through this process, we actually had two jokes we recorded for each gag. One of them was softer. I thought, “What if we start with a joke that’s almost acceptable, almost?” And we cut it about fifteen times. And at the end, it was losing the point that one form of discrimination was the same as the other, if you did that. So I went there and tried it. But the other point I want to answer of yours is that, um, you said, “I can’t believe that joke’s on television”. Mate, if you go to any pub in Australia, after eight beers, those jokes are out there. You know, they’re there. [loud interruptions]

Wil Anderson: These are not jokes, these are not jokes that you made up.

Adam Hunt: You know what? I did not write these jokes, you know? I went to some dark, dark websites. And every single jokes, not only were they poorly spelt, but they were followed by, they were prefaced by a disclaimer that said, “I’m not a racist, but…”

Bram Williams: The problem is though Adam, is I would be surprised, if after having screened that commercial, you wouldn’t hear more of those jokes more frequently in more pubs around the country. And that’s the unfortunate side effect, potentially, of doing it that way, is that you’ve added fuel to this particular fire. We can all sit there and say we wouldn’t behave like that, but the bigoted idiots most likely would feel vindicated and their actions would be endorsed in that way.

Todd Sampson: I also feel, Adam, that maybe this is, uh, I mean I don’t think it’s brave to create it, I think it’s brave to support it, defend it, talk about it, and that’s what all this is about, it’s a discussion. It’s not that we’re right and you’re wrong, because whatever way you look at that it could potentially have worked. I think the ad was, I think that it’s a symptom of how we create charity advertising, which is that I think your aim was at the Gruen Transfer, not at fat discrimination. That’s fine because this is The Gruen Transfer, but I –

Adam Hunt: Oh, no, I don’t agree. If my aim was at The Gruen Transfer, I would have done a gag ad like everyone else does. I would have tried to make people laugh.

Todd Sampson: What you did though, you went, you went, you took – I agree. That’s what was refreshing about it, is that it wasn’t a gag. But you did the equivalent of a gag in the shock style. So you’ve just taken shock to the nth degree, as opposed to …

Russell Howcroft: Just, just, you’ve just taken another genre, and I think, you know, Adam’s in competition. You wanted to cut through.

Adam Hunt: Definitely.

Wil Anderson: I think that we need to point out that, you came and spoke to the ad, but was this solely your vision, or was this something that the agency was discussing, pitching lots of ideas at? Like I think people …

Adam Hunt: Yeah, yeah, look. The Foundry came to a decision very early on, that this was a very serious brief, and it actually demanded a serious response. Once you’ve got those words “End Shape Discrimination”, you can’t – if you have an ad that makes you laugh at fat people, you’re off-brief. You know?

Wil Anderson: And we do ask, on this show, and we gen – it’s a bit of a behind the scenes, but in general behind the scenes – we constantly in our office are disappointed if agencies don’t answer the brief. Now whether, if they do it in a funny way, that’s fantastic, if they do it in a serious way, that’s fantastic. But we pitch them as serious briefs to be problem-solved. So you did – that’s what you were trying to do.

Russell Howcroft: Yeah. I wonder whether those that experience shape discrimination will say “At last we are being put at the same level as this other form of discrimination, which is clearly forms of discrimination that we’ve heard throughout our life”, those jokes, and I wonder whether they would say, “Hang on, I’m sorta into this”, if you’ve experienced that.

Wil Anderson: I hear everything you’re saying, and I’m not sure it would work as an ad on TV for many of those reasons. But I think it kind of would work as an ad on someone like me. But all I’m saying is that I do, it did make me think, “Well, I would not laugh at those first three things.” Well, I wouldn’t laugh at that particular fat joke, but I do fat jokes. Like I do fat jokes. You know?

Russell Howcroft: The second time around, was that shocking?

Todd Sampson: Well, the second time around – the second time around, I actually processed it. So I actually kind of, I saw, that was the first time I actually saw that they were despicable people, and that they were shot to look despicable. I certainly didn’t get that the first time. I got the smirks, I didn’t get the smirks the first time through. So I definitely processed it more that time. But the issue is, Will, it’s not about how good jokes actually are. It’s not about whether you’re actually telling jokes, isn’t not actually – the issue is about discrimination. And the ad discriminates to help with discrimination. Now you could say that –

Wil Anderson: I don’t disagree with that, but it also, it equates discriminations, so that someone like me, for example, because I’m just talking from a personal point of view here, who thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to make a fat joke, to discriminate against fat people, from the point of view that Adam was taking, it says to you – “Well, hang on, maybe what you’re doing is the same as someone who would make a joke about Jewish people.”

Adam Hunt: That’s exactly the point. That was the moment I had in the pub, when my mate cracked a fat chick joke, and I laughed. And I, I literally choked. That was the moment I went, “This is the crux of this issue.” You know, discrimination is different from so many things. Changing the brand of beer that somebody drinks is actually not as difficult as changing the way someone thinks. And when it’s discrimination, you know, it’s a really ugly thing…

Todd Sampson: Who is it aimed at though? If it’s aimed at racist people, it’s a joke. If it’s aimed at Will, who is not racist, who is insensitive, then it works.

Russell Howcroft: That’s right.

Adam Hunt: Well, it was aimed at me as well, it came from my personal – and I’ve been accused of being insensitive before, I mean, you know? And it was aimed at me, because it came from that personal experience. It came from my personal experience of trying to answer an incredibly challenging brief.

Wil Anderson: OK. Well, we should wrap this up. But I do want to ask you, what would you say to people who might have been offended by it? I mean, it’s interesting, they’ve come and had a look to be offended. But they’ve come, they’ve had a look, they’ve been offended by it, what would you say to them?

Adam Hunt: Look, I make no apologies for the strength of the idea. Discrimination comes in all shapes and sizes, and it’s all ugly. And honestly, if, to get to this ad, they’ve gone through so many disclaimers, and so many warnings, that if they’re still offended, look, I’m sorry, but I can’t say you weren’t warned.

Wil Anderson: Well, it’s been a pleasure to have you here mate, and I’m glad you’ve come here to have a chat about it. I’ve certainly enjoyed it. If someone could make me a list of people I can still make fun of?

[laughter]

Todd Sampson: The white Australian male. Go to town.

Wil Anderson: I mean, Amish people? They’re not watching.

[more laughter]

The critique of the panellists completely fails to connect this one simple fact: That arguing “you wouldn’t tell racist or homophobic jokes, so why tell fat jokes?” misses the point that people do tell racist and homophobic jokes. Bram Williams alludes to this near the end of the segment, but the dots are not connected. These jokes are everywhere. The jokes in the this advertisement all have resonance because we’ve all heard them all before.

So how is the ad supposed to work? “We’ve conquered racism, now let’s work on fatphobia?” “We’ve conquered homophobia, now let’s work on fatphobia”? “Fatphobia is the last acceptable prejudice”? We haven’t, and it’s not. And it’s downright offensive for a bunch of white sexist blokes working on their personal growth to try to create traction by stomping all over other oppressed groups.

Then there’s the feeling that they think they’re the first people to ever think of this idea. They marched right in and invented the idea of “fat pride”. No one has ever worked for size acceptance before! How new! How fresh! How odd and wacky! For fuck’s sake, blokes, read a book or something, eh?

Plus. How do they not see what is right in front of their faces? They state it right there – they claim to have undergone these epiphanies, to have taken this personal growth journey, to have all realised that hey, fat discrimination is a horrible thing, it’s not cool at all. Yet they still introduce the brief as “selling the unsellable”. They still say that this particular brief was “incredibly challenging”. They still blatantly refuse to see that fat discrimination is an actual issue. They still buddy up and bond about how they love telling “fat-chick jokes”, without looking the slightest bit embarrassed about it. It’s something they’re playing with academically, and their protestations that they’ve learned something ring very hollow.

Todd and Bram say some sensible things. Todd stumbles on calling the racist and homophobic ads “the harsh ones” (in contrast to the fat joke?), but he’s kinda in character there, so I’ll pass over it.

However. Another big fail here. The discussion also completely fails to understand that that joke in question is not just a fat joke. It’s a sexist joke.

Why did God create alcohol? So fat chicks could get a root.

It’s a horrible, offensive, objectifying joke about women. There is nothing in there about fat men. It’s not about how certain people are unfuckable, it’s about how certain women are unfuckable. There is no mention of fat-bloke jokes. Not once, not once, do these men examine the point that this about about fat-chick jokes, not about fat jokes.

The blurb at antiprejudicead doesn’t get this either. “If you are likely to be offended by issues of discrimination in race, religion, sexuality or body size, please don’t watch.” Where is the warning for those offended by sexism?

Note that the writer of the ad had to go looking for racist, homophobic jokes. He was looking for material, so he wandered through “dark, dark websites”. He doesn’t live this, he doesn’t know it, he’s never been the butt of it, he doesn’t feel it – he noodled about on the web. And a sexist arse like this making fun of the “I’m not a racist, but…” crowd without looking in the mirror? Hm.

And the bit speculating about how Jewish folks should just watch this and get behind it? The less said about that the better. Dude. DUDE.

~~~~~

But wait. There’s more.

For what they did air, see this video. (You can watch the rest of the show here at The Gruen Transfer site.)

Wil Anderson: Just before we go to The Pitch tonight, there’s something you should know. We recorded this segment a couple of weeks ago, but we can only show you one of the ads involved in the challenge. I’ll explain more afterwards. [intro music, cheering] Now – The Pitch. Where two ad agencies take the challenge of selling the unsellable! The winner receives this Gruen trophy, made from fairtrade rainforest-friendly plastic.

Now, to be overweight these days is to run the gauntlet of public disapproval and humiliation. So tonight we’ve asked our agencies to do a genuine public service, and come up with a campaign for fat pride. An ad to made plus-size Australians feel better about it. Can they do it? Please welcome from JWT Melbourne, Richard Muntz [applause] And from The Foundry in Sydney, Adam Hunt [applause].

Now Richard, this was a tough challenge. How did you attack the problem?

Richard Muntz: Being in, being in a recession [laughter], we thought, we need more consumers! Fat might just be the thing to get us back in the black.

Wil Anderson: Well, let’s have a look.

[ad plays. Laughter is from TGT studio audience:]

Voiceover: The stock market. Unemployment. Housing prices. [standard clips of stock market floor, lots of walking folks in the city, red falling line graphs] We’re in recession. But there is one group of people who can save us. Superconsumers. [Headless Fattie montage] [laughter]

You consume 18% more than thin people. And right now your nation needs you to do what you do best. Consume. Because of you, farmers grow more food. [tractor harvesting wheat] Because of you, XXL clothes are made. [persona lyaing out fabric] [laughter] And because of you, airlines burn more fuel to get you off the ground. [plane taking off] If everyone upsized like you, Australia would already be in recovery. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou, you supersized superheroes. [picture of bloke with a giant pillow stuffed down his shirt][laughter]

Wil Anderson: Uh, we did shoot the rest of the segment, but the ad from The Foundry, which may be highly offensive to some people, has not been approved for broadcast by the ABC, so we can’t show it to you here. For the record, on the night, the panel judge the JWT ad the winner in a three-to-one vote. We at Gruen feel that while the Foundry ad may be potentially upsetting, it was made to be a legitimate approach to the problem, with a sincere intent to persuade Australians to reconsider their prejudices. If you wish, you can see it at this website – http://www.antiprejudice.net – along with an explanation from its creator and a panel discussion about it.

The opening to this video does confuse me a little, because it seems that what he’s saying is that they recorded the Foundry segment a few weeks ago, then couldn’t air it for legal reasons. However, during the withheld segment itself, they make it clear twice that the panel was to be a webside, with warnings attached.

But. BUT. All the insistence that they’ve learned that fat jokes are uncool, thankyouthankyou The Foundry for this amazing insight? – all that? A little undermined by all the sniggering and adoration for the ad that is one giant fat joke, don’tcha think?



Categories: arts & entertainment, gender & feminism, social justice

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26 replies

  1. Talk about being set up to fail. Set the challenge “as if” size discrimination is a genuinely wrong and deserves equivalence with any other type of discrimination (which The Factory ad clearly does), then when judging the ads, refuse to accept that this is the case.
    Ostensibly this was done because the racist and homophobic ones are harsher and more shocking. Stricly speaking this is true, the earlier jokes are about people deserving to DIE because of their difference so chosing one about fat women not getting sex isn’t anywhere near the same level and undermines the point they’re supposed to be making. Could they really not find any jokes about fat people not deserving to live? We’ve had “eat the rich” I’m sure there’s an “eat the fat” one out there on the internet.
    Unfortunately, I suspect that even if TheFactory HAD found a fat joke as bad as the others, it still wouldn’t be taken as seriously.
    DeusExMacintosh’s last blog post..Fiddling whilst democracy burns

  2. I don’t want to derail from the fatphobia issues at the centre of this, but I’ve been meaning to bring up the Gruen Transfer on otterday for weeks now because I’ve been so frustrated every episode by the elephant in the room that is sexism. The foundary ad is actually a remarkably neat summary of this. “Let’s make a list of all the kinds of prejudice that are completely unacceptable”, but I don’t see sexism anywhere on that list. Lauredel points out that the fat joke is actually a fat SEXIST joke, and that goes by completely unnoticed.
    A few weeks ago The Pitch included an ad with the strategy that female athletes are fuckholes to be made available as a reward to boys who take up synchronised swimming, and there was not a peep out of even our righteous cutie Todd (although he looked like he was chewing on something nasty).
    Also, there was one woman on the panel last night (who, incidentally, felt compelled to make an I-must-out-bloke-the-blokes “who’d root the dog?” joke), where was she during this discussion?
    Analysing the advertising industry is supposed to be the one single thing this show is for, and yet they resolutely refuse to acknowledge that probably its single most pervasive feature even exists, as Wil Anderson goes on to make yet another “I like de boobies, heh heh” joke. It’s infuriating.

  3. The stereotype in the first ad – fat people must eat more really annoyed me. The second ad, which I just watched, horrified me. Most reasonable people would not watch it twice, so this alleged cut through – not going to happen. The racists who would love this ad and would watch it again and again – not going to get cut-through with them, they think you agree with them. Massive fail. The “dog” comment just left me speechless.

  4. I think I might cry.

  5. Orlando, I fucking hear you. I *hate* this show, this pretentiously self congratulatory show full of ‘Aren’t we such open minded metros’ back patting while pissing all over the notion that women ought to be treated equally every single fucking week. They aren’t *critiquing* advertising in any meaningful way, they’re celebrating it with a quick hat tip to it’s issues as if it’s nothing to do with them, and their companies and jokes don’t continually reinforce it all.
    I think it is seriously the most outrageously misogynistic, privileged white man’s wank fest (but at the same time gimme cookies for I’m so LOVELY and CHARMING and INTE-FREAKING-LLECTUAL and P.C – anybody remember them selling poverty with ads on shanty town shacks?) show on air at the moment.
    So these ads appal me, and I can’t watch them for fear I’ll have an aneurysm (since the transcript was upsetting enough when you KNOW that people DO make these jokes and DO think they’re funny) but that they have come from this platform shocks me not at all. They *are* disgusting, and the commentary is ridiculously inadequate and misses the fucking point, and that is completely in keeping with the continuum of disrespect, point missing and self congratulatory wilful blindness and idiocy shown in this show from the outset.
    That’s *not* in any way to minimise how vile the ads (and the resulting discussions) are. I just think they’re actually caught out this time.
    And goddammit, the media wrote about it as an ad to sell ‘obesity’ rather than ‘fat acceptance’. (Whole new complaint)
    The fact that the Gruen Transfer thinks ‘fat acceptance’ is a joke, is disgusting, is about the most unacceptable thing to sell (and continue to think of it only in terms of ‘fat chicks’ who don’t do right by their boners) says volumes about the show and it’s host and panel. [Takes a deep breath]
    Anyway, thanks Lauredhel, I’m sorry if I’m rambling off topic, because it was a good post, and I think you really hit the nail on the head with the question of where is the warning for people offended by sexism. It’s never going to come because it’s what sells the ad and what sells the show. The ad last night was of lingerie clad young models crawling around like panthers, all pornified, and the voiceover was all ‘Ohhh – HHHHOTTT’, and I just nearly had an anuerism. In the same week as the Four Corners report on Footy Players and the ‘code of silence’ and Where Do They Get These Attitudes that Women Are Their Playthings, is it that much to ask of a show that reckons it dissects advertising culture to refrain from using “WOO HOT CHICKS – GET YOUR BONER WHILE IT’S HOT” as the draw card for it’s shitty misogynist show? That’s not *critique* boys, that’s doing exactly the same fucking thing.

  6. Thanks, fuckpoliteness, that was very cathartic.

  7. For me too Orlando. That show never fails to make me feel worse – about myself, about media, about advertising, about society. Sigh. I think female audience members are non people to them since our comfort in watching figures as so very unimportant. 😦

  8. If they’re starting from the premise that “fat” is “unsellable” aka OH YUK FAT WE’RE NOT LIKE THAT, there’s not going to be anything worthwhile said.
    And I don’t watch this show because I went to school with Wil Anderson and I can’t stand his smugness. He hasn’t grown up at all.

  9. All the while helping men to feel better about themselves and their participation in this culture I should add. Fuck.

  10. Lauredhel: you are spot on that (a)They totally don’t have any understanding of what Fat Acceptance actually means and (b)Sexism isn’t even on their radar.
    I “enjoy” The Gruen Transfer but in a very meta way: they bring up some interesting points and then totally fail to engage with them properly, and watching that failure is educational.
    Has anyone ever noticed how there’s only ever ONE woman on the panel? Never none, and definitely never two or three. Just one. And god, yes, Will Anderson, the fact that he’s not the most aggressively offensive person on the show is a damning inditement of the advertising industry all by itself. The way the point of the ad (“Making fun of fat people is not ok”. Not very complicated) went totally over his head was painful to read (I decided I was happier not actually watching the clip)
    I find Todd interesting, because he does usually make some good points when everyone else is being gleefully thoughtless, but he obviously holds himself back and on the whole comes across as not being willing to really challenge himself or anyone else.

  11. I find it odd that the female panelist was missing in discussion of the anti-discrimination ad, and think it was a deliberate choice to lessen the damage (I say this disdainfully) to Wil Anderson as the host of the show, who is renown for his poor taste sexual innuendos. If they went ‘too’ far in their personal growth epiphanies, with a female panelist involved, perhaps they would have come to a realisation that they need to change the host completely.
    You will also note in previous episodes, that one of the panelists, Dan Gregory, has had to deal with his size by making a joke out of it, especially during the episode where they analyse the advertising of Jenny Craig and look at Magda Szubanski. When questioned about the ad, he sat there and said “What are you asking me for?”
    My question is this: What if Dan had been on the panel when discussing the anti-discrimination ad? What if Jane Caro, an online opinion writer with interests in women, had been on the panel? I would like to think the discussion would have been more fruitful.
    I don’t hate The Gruen Transfer, but I can see how the ad world is infused with gender role stereotypes and wants to reflect certain societal norms rather than change them. When Russel Howcroft says that mothers love the Napisan ad because it’s ‘got the cute kid’ I think we’ve got some way to go.

  12. I haven’t actually watched the video yet. My partner watched it last night, and when I asked him about it, he just said, in this strangled sort of way, “It was… bad”. After reading the transcript, I’m not sure that I will put myself through actually watching it.

  13. I was expecting the worst when the segment started and I wasn’t disappointed, all the same old same old crap was there. But, for all its many faults, I did see glimpses of not so bad stuff in the panel discussion of The Foundry’s ad – if only there’d been someone on the panel with half a clue – and I’d rather the discussion was had than not at all.
    The unexamined sexism on TGT makes me want to throw things and yell at the TV every time I watch it.

  14. The way they apply the premise of The Pitch is so often in itself grossly offensive, because it’s based on “We wouldn’t, but if we did…”. Thus: we wouldn’t try to sell ice to Eskimos, but if we did we would do it like this (whatever); we wouldn’t try to get red-blooded young Aussie men to try synchronised swimming, but if we did (because we all accept that girly stuff is crap, yes?); we wouldn’t try to get the public to accept fat people, but if we did (oh, tell me you did not just descend to that). These guys are virtuosos of the unexamined assumption.

  15. Preach it Orlando. You should have yourself a blog. 🙂

  16. I also know Wil Anderson from his school days. He often mentions how he was a “fatty boombah” when he was a kid. He wasn’t. He was tall for his age (early growth spurt I would say) and not a string bean but he wasn’t fat. He definitely has an internal fat bias.
    Having one of the few Australian Fat Acceptance blogs I feel like there is *something* I should do, need to do, about this whole premise the Gruen Transfer is operating from. I am going to have to think more about what exactly it is that I am going to do though…

  17. Orlando: Yes, that was the other aspect of it. Fat Acceptance is laughably absurd now? You’re right about how problematic some of the others have been as well.

  18. A thousand times this.
    I have some close FA friends who had the complete opposite reaction and felt that it was a well thought-out ad that drew attention to something that a lot of people haven’t had exposure to i.e. FA.
    I just wanted to hurt people.

  19. I watched this and nearly started throwing this at the television. I usually turn the teev off after Spicks and Specks, but for some reason left it on. I wish I hadn’t.
    This made me so fucking angry, and once again reminded me of how I really, really, REALLY want to wipe that smary smirk off Wil Anderson’s face. *seethes*

  20. Argh, throwing “things” at the television. Fury makes my typing fail. :[

  21. I read a comment the other day that fat people don’t experience ‘real’ discriminiation. Sigh.

  22. Um, ok, so I quite liked it. It was far from perfect, but it was about a million times better than the gag they did air. It was a first attempt from this guy, and I think that was good. I wouldn’t want it shown on TV as part of a real campaign, because it DOES have serious flaws, as many other people have pointed out. But I think it should have been aired on the ABC.
    Also, just thought I could help here…
    “””The opening to this video does confuse me a little, because it seems that what he’s saying is that they recorded the Foundry segment a few weeks ago, then couldn’t air it for legal reasons. However, during the withheld segment itself, they make it clear twice that the panel was to be a webside, with warnings attached.”””
    TV shows are recorded a few weeks before they air. This section was recorded a few weeks ago, then edited, and after that the ABC decided it probably shouldn’t be put to air. But they decided they did want to make it available for viewing, so they chose to put it online. Rather than air their original discussion, they made a new straight-to-web discussion, and were discussing it in light of the fact that it wasn’t aired. Then last of all new intro and out-tro shots were filmed, explaining that what we are about to / just did see isn’t what was recorded during the first filming session, and this was edited in at a later date. So yeah, the segment was shot weeks ago, but always intended to be aired this week. And I highly doubt it was for “legal reasons”, probably an internal ABC decision.

  23. So I was poking around the T-shirt site of the ad maker, Goatboy. The blog is all huhuh boobies, giggling at a goat humping a Muslim man in prayer, shit like that – the stuff you see from violently misogynist douches who never matured past 13 and think that they’re terribly “edgy”.
    And then there’s this, the T-shirt that he’s sworn never to make again but that is still present in the Google cache, “Kings Cross Police Now Targeting Fat Chicks”. (Story at the SMH.)
    The shirt is illustrated worn by a slim white woman eating a hamburger, but the other pictures accompanying the shirt include an extremely thin woman captioned “Do I look Fat in this Shirt?”, and an extremely fat woman in a bikini, shot from behind, captioned “Does it come in my size?”. The images are clearly placed there mean-spiritedly to mock women. Until this cookie-seeking prat realises that his problem is not with fat, it is with women, he remains a complete and utter arsehole.

  24. In my opinion it was way better than the winning ad. It actually got the point across that attitudes like that are hurtful and hateful and I think it would make people think whoa wait.. is it really that bad.
    The winning ad was disgusting, it was in essence just one long fat joke with fat pride stamped on it. I cried through the whole thing, it left me feeling humiliated and ashamed and I really don’t think it promoted fat acceptance at all in fact it did quite the opposite.
    the things that are said to me, the treatment I receive because I am fat IS OFFENSIVE, it is hateful and it hurts like crazy at least the pulled ad portrayed that and seemed like it was on my side.
    It really made me angry when at the end of that show the host asked someone to make him a list of the people he COULD make fun of now, as though his life was really hampered because he couldn’t tear people down. GAH… the ignorance drives me nuts sometimes!

  25. The miserable irony of this whole thing is that the liberal dude who made the ad actually fathomed that discrimination on the basis of body size is morally equivalent to discrimination based on race and colour, but utterly failed to notice the sexism in the joke that caused his “epiphany”. This, and the white liberal dude discussion, encapsulates to perfection the inability of modern western patriarchal culture to even notice sexism, let alone take it seriously.
    I’m now off to imagine a multitude of hideous torments and punishments being visited upon those bloody idiots on The Gruen Transfer.

  26. The winning ad might be funny “language reclamation” style if it was done by fat people and being enjoyed by fat people. I giggled a bit, but I was thinking all the while, “shit, I’m glad my fat friends aren’t watching this with me.” I was embarrassed for them (which is another way of saying, “I was ashamed of myself” I guess).
    The Foundry ad exposes one of the paradigms of the advertising industry though: sex sells. More importantly, “having sex with a beautiful woman by proxy” sells. The assumption that you use (attractive, sexually aroused) women to push your product is so ingrained in the psyche of advertisers that they would not be able to point out sexism if it bit them in the face. Who can conceive of a Coca Cola ad which only shows a bunch of fat blokes on the beach? No, it has to include attractive girls giving meaningful glances to the boys drinking Coca Cola.
    I think what Lauredhel has uncovered here is that the panel on TGT is so closely associated with advertising that they either aren’t aware of the blatant sexism in the industry (in the same way that a smoker isn’t aware of the fact that their walls were painted white, not tan), or realise that it’s such a taboo subject that they bite their tongue (like the friends who visit and suppress their coughs, and try not to touch anything for fear of wiping off stains).
    Was the female panellist excluded, or did she exclude herself from that webcast? My expectation is the latter – that is, I expect that she didn’t even want to be associated with the offensive material, even if only to condemn it.
    What would you do in that environment?

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