By Marcus Honesta.
LET’S CALL IT FOR WHAT IT IS — CENSORSHIP!
Let’s not pretend it’s just PC gone mad. Let’s recognise it for what it really is. Unmitigated, brazen CENSORSHIP!
It is no longer the thin end of the PC wedge — it’s far more sinister than that.
The truth is, unelected bodies are waging a war of moral genocide within our media ranks. They have but one objective — that is the viewing public sees advertising produced in a context, style, and manner that depicts a society reflective of their own personal views, judgments and vendettas. The actions of these moral do gooders are straight out of the pages of George Orwell’s famous novel Animal Farm, where double speak, self-interest and worse were rife.
“All animals are equal, only some are more equal than others,” could be their maxim. They are the most insidious example of a new look censorship! Not since Joseph Goebbels and his Ministry of Propaganda has there been such a blatant move to control what we can see and ultimately what we can do.
In 1949 in another one of George Orwell’s seminal publications, his book ”1984” introduced the watchwords for life without freedom: BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, with oppression in Oceania (the place that he created in is novel), a place where the Party scrutinises human actions with ever-watchful BIG BROTHER is constantly monitoring your thoughts and actions.
In “1984”, Orwell creates a technologically advanced world in which fear is used as a tool for manipulating and controlling individuals who do not conform to the prevailing political orthodoxy. In his attempt to educate the reader about the consequences of certain political philosophies and the defects of human nature, Orwell manipulates and usurps the utopian tradition and creates a dystopia, a fictional setting in which life is extremely bad from deprivation, oppression, or terror. Orwell’s dystopia is a place where humans have no control over their own lives, where nearly every positive feeling is squelched, and where people live in misery, fear, and repression.
Today, I fear we face a similar fate to our Orwellian cousins. With layers of unelected repressive bureaucrats telling us what we can and can’t see, what is right and what is proper. Today as I sit here writing this column I fear we face such a fate.
Last week I joyfully wrote that it seemed like the mainstream media was at last taking up the cause to fight political correctness and the self-righteous do-gooders interfering in our lives with their wowserism and sanctimonious claptrap. Political leaders, sporting personalities, academics, and businesspeople alike all threw their weight behind the notion that as a society the do-gooders, the PC brigade, the bed-wetters, and the tree huggers have gone too far and were destroying our once great nation.
But alas, one week later, unhappily I must report that there is a new blight on the horizon of our freedom of speech and our right to view and comment on what we say, what we see, and where we do it.
A mind numbingly stupid group of unelected self proclaimed technocrats and wind-bags that make up the AANA and their executive committee as well as associated bodies have weighed in to the Politically Correct debate changing its face to one of outright censorship. They, through their misguided ways have endeavoured to wind the clock backward 30 years with their interference and attempts to control what we see and do in advertising content.
And who are these bureaucrats, the architects of this nonsense: well meet the AANA. The Australian Association of National Advertisers they describe themselves: (from their web site) “the peak national body championing the interests of Australia’s advertisers. We exist to inspire and promote responsible, innovative and respected marketing, through a commitment to sustainable industry collaboration”. Even their language is condescending, sanctimonious, and pretentious: “the peak national body championing the interests of Australia’s advertisers” indeed!
“The AANA established the self-regulatory system for advertising and marketing communications in 1997 with the release of the AANA Code of Ethics. Since that time, the AANA has developed and introduced new Codes and amended the existing Codes to keep pace with the rapid changes within the advertising, marketing and media industry. The Codes are platform and technology neutral and evolve and adapt to keep pace with changing consumer expectations.” I wonder what makes them think they have a mandate on good taste or what Mr. and Mrs. Average, in what has been coined Struggle Street, really find funny, offensive, risqué or in down right poor taste. There is a strong argument to promulgate that they (the AANA drunk with self-righteous moral vanity) have out lived its used by date. In strict marketing terms, the product has run its life cycle.
They proudly boast “The AANA Code of Ethics applies to all advertisers to set the standard for advertising in any medium”.
Yet the reality in the real world is far from the lofty commandments issued from on high from the boardroom of these corporate giants. You only have to sit through a meeting at an advertising agency or marketing company and you would realise just how out of touch and dysfunctional those who have put themselves in charge of our moral compass really are. Some of the more weighty issues that occupy the time and minds of these individuals when making television commercials are: Is her top too green? That floor can’t look too up market. Do we need another plant in the kitchen? Is that splash back too premium? Are the kids too aspirational? Etc Etc…. I ask you!
However most worryingly still is if you look, the AANA board is industry elected, Solomon sitting in judgment on Solomon. There is no one on it that lives in the real consumer world. Their worlds are infested with marketing plans, focus groups, ad agencies, PR spin doctors, procurement departments and the worst of the lot, the do-gooders in the Human Resource departments who all are professional busy bodies and jumped thought police.
Their own (AANA) stand over merchants goes under the worrying name of Ad Standards. Ad Standards manages the complaint resolution process of the advertising self-regulation system. According to their website they say:
“Our vision is to be the foremost authority in Australia for adjudication of complaints about advertising and marketing communications.” Talk about pompous!
Ad Standards functions as secretariat for the Ad Standards Community Panel and the Ad Standards Industry Jury – the two independent bodies were established to determine consumer and competitive complaints against the advertising self-regulatory Codes.
Our purpose (Ad Standards from their web site)
Ad Standards exists to give voice to consumer values and guide industry in maintaining decent, honest advertising aligning with prevailing community values.
The objects for which Ad Standards was established are:
- To establish and monitor a self-regulatory system to regulate advertising standards in Australia
- To promote confidence in and respect for the general standards of advertising on the part of the community and the legislators
- To explain the role of advertising in a free enterprise system, and
- To run whatever other regulatory system it may be contracted to run from time to time.
In truth, it has gone well past examples of PC idiots such as the former army chief David Morrison appearing in an online video promotion for the Diversity Council Australia.
As an aside to jog your memory, you might remember he was the clown that said the word “guys” was too sexist, and then donned some high heels to raise awareness of just how much of a slave he was to victim politics. Back to the video, it showed Morrison, chairman of that council, and a female office worker looking appalled as they inspect an office kitchen full of dirty dishes.
But the filthy dishes and the general mess aren’t the reason for their rancor and disgust. Instead, both Morrison and the worker are horrified by a sign above the sink, which reads: “Clean up after yourself! Your mum doesn’t work here!”
How to solve this awful problem? Action man Morrison knows what to do. Wearing his full army uniform for some reason, (I suppose to give the awful crime gravitas) he produces a red Texta Pen and adds the word “dad”.
A job well done! Except, of course, for all of those pesky dishes, which remain in their unsanitary state. Priorities, you understand.
In a country once famed for its plain-speaking, celebrated by DH Lawrence as a place where ‘nobody is supposed to rule, and nobody does rule’, is being choked by their new conformism. The birthplace of larrikinism has become grave of freedom of speech and or individual rebellion. It’s the latest outpost of the offence-policing mania that has gripped the West. The rallying cry of the larrikin — say what you think, however you like — has been replaced by the deathly decree of the new censorious set: ‘You can’t say that!’
Such self-silencing, among what is probably a majority, is a consequence of the new conformism and pathologisation of dissent. The new offence-policing elite will harry and brand — metaphorically rather than with fire — anyone who dares dissent from their worldview. Fail to bow and scrape before the altar of the do-gooders and their perverted views, and you’re ‘phobic’.
Question climate-change commandments, and you’re a ‘denier’ (the same slur used against the poor souls dragged before the Inquisition, accused of denying the truth of the gospels). Wonder out loud if the new feminism is a bit authoritarian, and you’ll be labeled a ‘misogynist’. Like the most authoritarian regimes in history — think Soviet Union sending dissidents for mental-health treatment — the new intolerant elite sees people who disagree with its ideas not as people who disagree with its ideas, but as sickos, hateful, unhinged. No wonder many keep their thoughts to themselves.
It’s the new wowserism. Hilariously, the green-leaning, tree hugging, plastic bag hating, soy latte Surry Hills Café set, see themselves as the only solution to saving the rest of we ignorant souls. In truth, its ideas are the new orthodoxies, and what reactionary orthodoxies they are: women are fragile and must be protected from harmful images; digging for natural resources is disruptive and wicked. This is a profoundly conservative worldview, cynically dolled-up as edgy. Australian public and media life is now dominated by wowsers disguised as larrikins.
In a very short time, ordinary Aussies have become moral lepers in their own nation, their views — on morality, coal, whatever — are no longer fit for expression. And this has been done, not with force, but through the informal imposition of a new conformism — what John Stuart Mill described as ‘the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas… on those who dissent from them’. What a topsy-turvy situation Down Under finds itself in: the supposed progressives are the new wowsers, and the country folk and traditionally minded have become larrikins, by default. I say to these default larrikins: behave like larrikins. Blaspheme against the new elite. Smash their diktats. Remind them that they don’t rule Oz; we the moral majority do.
But back to the AANA “Censorship Crackdown” on comedy and gender roles in commercials. The AANA has banned portrayals of women tackling housework as well as flustered fathers grappling with child minding duties.
Ad agencies have been warned they will be reprimanded for “discrimination or vilification” if they show “a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning”, such as in this Dettol disinfectant wipes ad, or suggest a father is bad at parenting there will be trouble; sanctions.
The “Code of Ethics” changes introduced by this media tyrant have restrictions to prevent what it has labeled the spread of negative gender stereotypes.
The Ads Standards Community Panel (another one of their shadowy henchmen) — which assesses whether complaints breach the rules — forced UltraTune Australia last month to modify an advert to make female drivers appear more “confident” and less “unintelligent”. Obviously no one on the August body has ever heard of comedy.
In that case the panel complained the female actors depicting a scene in which their car broke down at a railway crossing as a train hurtled towards them reinforced a “negative depiction of women” being helpless.
“The board considered that the women are depicted as unintelligent in the way in which they sit passively, with blank faces, in the car on the train tracks and also in the way they appear to not notice the oncoming train,” the panel wrote.
This Ultratune advertisement raised issues of concern 2.1 (discrimination or vilification) and 2.2 (exploitative or degrading).
“The depiction of the women’s reaction to their situation is a negative depiction of women and does amount to vilification of women.”
The company was forced to amend the ad to make the women look powerful and decisive before the complaint was formally dismissed.
“The majority of the panel considered that the women were shown taking action to save themselves immediately after the threat has been realised,” the panel wrote after the ad was changed, “the panel considered that the women were shown as confident and in control.”
A screen grab from a Dyson advertisement showing a woman “cleaning the house” — a new no-no from the ads’ code of conduct.
The AANA changes have since gone a step further, banning the portrayal of specific acts:
“(An ad breaches the code if it) depicts family members creating a mess while a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning it up; suggests that a specific activity is inappropriate for boys because it is stereotypically associated with girls or features a man trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks.”
The AANA declined to reveal how many complaints the public made about gender stereotypes before the changes were made.
The Ad Standards Community Panel also reprimanded iSelect for an ad in which a woman “aggressively hit a pinata”.
A screengrab from a Sportsbet advertisement which crossed the line due to its theme of “manscaping”.
“Advertising contributes to cultural attitudes and there is a social imperative to positively effect change in the way people are portrayed,” said AANA chief executive John Broome.
“The AANA’s new guidance aims to reinforce responsible advertising that does not diminish or limit the role of women and men in society.”
The organisation also released a statement saying the new gender rules would prevent advertisers and agencies from “unwittingly” reinforcing negative stereotypes.
The Ad Standards Community Panel when reprimanding iSelect for an ad in which a woman “aggressively hit a pinata” because it depicted an “out-of-control” woman, said: “The woman was depicted in an out-of-control manner and her aggression and lack of awareness due to the anger displayed through her actions would be considered unsafe for the children around her,” the panel wrote. Ad Standards chief executive Fiona Jolly said she welcomed “additional guidance”.
This just must stop. Even if all the complaints that these sanctimonious busybodies have highlighted are correct, surely we as a mature democratic free speaking public have the right to make our own value judgments. Marketers who break our trust, insult our values, by offending our good taste they suffer the ultimate sanction, we don’t buy their products. We vote with our wallet, and our feet.
That is what democracy is all about, it is not about censorship, it is not about bureaucrats telling us how or what we can think. It is about freedom. It is about the right to choose. Our forefathers fought and died on the beaches of Gallipoli and in the jungles of Papua New Guinea for this inalienable right. It is not something we should allow to be rested away from us by mindless unelected Canberra public servants who live in a cloistered bubble of their own terrified ignorance.
Get rid of the lot of them the AANA — ASB & ASIJ. They serve no useful purpose, and no doubt cost we the taxpayers a fortune in unnecessary funding, paid for these days with borrowed money we can ill afford.