So the main debate leading up to Australia Day was about changing the actual date of our day of celebration. I have already written my opinion on this issue, so I thought I would also briefly touch on the second issue that seemed to generate a bit of opinion. That lamb ad.
The add itself wasn’t funny, or did I miss something? Perhaps there were some subtle jokes I missed- not Sam Kekovich’s style, but it is possible. Nope, turns out it was as ordinary as it appeared the first time.
There were a few cheap stereotypes to exploit our cultural cringe- warm beer in England, Japanese business men and a hipster vegan. But there was nothing clever or funny. It doesn’t take much to get a laugh out of me (I have laughed at most of the previous ones), but I didn’t even crack a smile.
While it wasn’t real funny, it also didn’t deserve over 300 complaints to the Advertising Standards Board. Much of the complaints came from the treatment of vegans, and while it was obviously not a flattering depiction of this choice of lifestyle, it also could not be described as inciting hatred and violence as some people claimed. This type of hyperbolic language vary rarely has the effect of persuading rational people to change their mind and can often generate considerable pushback in the form of more jokes and memes at the expense of the vegan lifestyle.
The labelling of the add as racist because it uses the term ‘boomerang’ is even more of a stretch. Perhaps, it could be considered culturally insensitive in the lead up to a day that many indigenous Australians do not celebrate to begin with, but it is not racist. In my view, using the term racism in this way actually devalues the term, robbing it of its power. It is in no way comparable to racial vilification or discrimination and shouldn’t be described with the same adjective.
Along with the exaggerated nature of the complaints, what really strikes me is the lack of awareness about what they achieve. The uproar probably contributed significantly to the awareness of the campaign- essentially giving the Meat and Livestock Australia free publicity.