Monday, December 13, 2010
The Case for Anti Craze PCness
Many moons ago, I mentioned a nauseating and slow airline safety commercial that Air New Zealand had put together to tie in with the Rugby World Cup in 2011 (a year which is about 3 weeks away as I write this). Of course, as I have no taste nor patriotism whatsoever, it appears that this has been a wildly successful cross-promotional opportunity and has been a big hit with travellers.
However, despite it being on air up in the air for 4 months, the powers that be have determined that it needs to be tweaked, all because of a kiss denied.
The offending (offensive?) scene has Richard Kahui declining the request of a male flight attendant, Will Coxhead, to supply him with a peck on the cheek. It's a scene made with good humour, with Kahui not too concerned with having a guy "hitting" on him (well, within the confines of the ad - perhaps this should come with a "do not try this at home" warnings), and Coxhead fine with having his request rebuffed by the All Black.
Three things stand out for me about this:
1) Given the obvious good humour between the two participants in the scene, would anyone really be offended by this? What is there really to be offended about? The fact it shows an All Black, stereotypically a man's man but in the most heterosexual way possible, being not only tolerant but respectful to a man who finds him attractive (one assumes)? The fact a gay man feels comfortable enough to make such a request of one of New Zealand's sporting heroes without the fear of any negative reprisals besides a "no"? While in general the advertisement may leave me writhing in pain due to its incredible tedium and obvious "marketing", even I have to admit it was all made in good fun.
2) I am not sure when the complaint was lodged, but surely such a decision comes a little bit late? Four months after this has been shown on hundreds of flights within the country and on YouTube throughout the world, I would have thought it would be a bit pointless for a bit of editing now.
3) Would the powers that be have allowed the scene to be shot with the All Black kissing the attendant, whether said hypothetical All Black be gay or not? The humour in the scene comes from the fact that such an act would seem to be unlikely, so as such, and while it does so with humour, the scene does not surprise and instead sticks with stereotype.
Verdict: The Air New Zealand safety advertisement maintains the manliness of the All Blacks through the lack of physical contact, while softening the image of the men in the black jerseys themselves through the light hearted spirit displayed by the two people involved. It's shame that those making the advertisement didn't have the courage to really push boundaries (though that might have damaged the brand), but it is worse that there are some people out there who see this scene as something discriminatory when, in reality, it is something that people on both sides of the puckered lip fence could really learn from: how to deal with an unwanted advance; and how to accept rejection without resorting to bunnycide. 2 steps back out of 3 steps forward.