A hypothetical video advertisement created for The Gruen Transfer was banned from broadcast for its racist and discriminatory content. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald
Discrimination: Gruen ad ban sparks online debatePerhaps it is worth remembering that people have been killed for being black, gay or Jewish, and it even continues today as hate crimes while countries like Iran executes people for being homosexual.
Arjun Ramachandran May 14, 2009 - 1:46PM
IT was banned from TV last night, but hundreds online have watched an "insensitive" segment of The Gruen Transfer that jokes about Jews, black people and homosexuals.
And public and expert opinion is divided on whether the controversial ad produced for the ABC show was racist and discriminatory, as deemed by the ABC.
The powerful ad, part of a segment in which two ad agencies tried to sell "fat pride", has also forced the show's host, and comedian, Wil Anderson to reconsider his habit of telling "fat jokes".
Shot in black and white, the ad - produced by Sydney agency The Foundry - features three people each telling extremely offensive jokes:
- How do black women fight crime? They have abortions.
- How do you stop a poofter from drowning? You take your foot off his head.
- What's the difference between Santa Claus and a Jew? Santa Claus goes down the chimney.
Then the final joke, aimed at fat people, was: "Why did God create alcohol? So fat chicks could get a root."
The ad concludes: "Discrimination comes in all shapes and sizes."
While ABC canned the segment, it permitted The Gruen Transfer's producers to show the video online - www.antiprejudicead.net - with appropriate disclaimers.
"We are grateful for the ABC's consent for us to put the material on this website, as it facilitates further debate and discussion," the show said.
Hundreds of people have since viewed the ad and weighed in on whether it was offensive and discriminatory, as the ABC had declared, and whether it was effective.
"An ad? I don't think so. It's just biased and bigoted trash," declared one poster.
Another wrote: "I can definitely understand why it wasn't shown on TV. People have a right not to be confronted with offensive material - even if properly used - in their homes."
But others disagreed.
"I loved it - having been the brunt of 'fat chick' jokes in the past, it is refreshing to see someone branding it as actual discrimination," wrote one.
During a robust panel discussion (also viewable online), the ad's creator Adam Hunt explained his motivation.
"The point is to say if you discriminate against somebody on the basis of their shape then you are no different to someone who is racist, homophobic or anti-Semitic," he said.
The idea was conceived in the pub when Mr Hunt caught himself laughing at a "fat chick joke" made by his friend, he said.
"I literally choked on that laugh, beer went everywhere and I had an epiphany about shape discrimination starting with laughing at a fat chick joke."
One viewer disagreed with the premise, arguing those who had suffered "real discrimination" would be offended by that comparison.
"... the analogy is overly hysterical. Just how many people have been murdered for being fat?
"Yet literally millions of blacks, gays and Jews have suffered violence, murder and genocide.
"Sure, in the abstract, 'discrimination is discrimination' but the difference in degree is so huge that the point is lost and members of the groups who have suffered real discrimination are very likely to be offended by the comparison."
Ad agencies involved in the show's regular segment - called The Pitch - usually produced humorous ads.
The Foundry's competitor in this contest, JWT Melbourne, produced an ad that celebrated fat people as voracious consumers who could lead the economic recovery.
But Mr Hunt said: "Any idea that made you laugh at people was actually going to celebrate shape discrimination, not end it."
But regular Gruen panellist Todd Samson said the ad failed because viewers failed to get over the shock of the initial racist joke.
"I don't think it's brave ... it's easy to offend and make people watch that ad," he said.
"I dont think you need to offend one group to help another."
Anderson accepted the ad was unlikely to be suitable for TV.
"But I think it would kind of work as an ad on someone like me.
"It equates discrimination, so for someone like me ... who thinks it's perfectly acceptable to make a fat joke, to discriminate against fat people ... it says to you 'Hang on, maybe what you're doing is exactly the same as someone who would make a joke about Jewish people.' "
Anderson's reaction was mimicked by others who watched the ad online.
"As a person who makes derogatory remarks about overweight people I never realised how offensive my attitudes were until I saw this ad," one wrote.
"Yes, redneck mouth-breathers are not going to get it but they never do. It's about changing mainstream attitudes (of which I feel I'm part of) that matters."
After watching the ad and the panel discussion online, many criticised the censorship of the ABC."You can understand why the ABC chose not to air this ad but it's a shame because the decision denied to a wider audience what is by far the most illuminating examination of the advertising industry and the creative process the Gruen Transfer has yet produced," wrote one.
There is no evidence of large scale hate crimes and killings of people based on their weight. There is no comparison.