Thursday, June 30, 2011

Another wowser loss

From time to time I’ve posted when someone lodges a complaint with the Broadcast Standards Authority or the Advertising Standards Authority, particularly when the complaint deals with gay issues. They’re sometimes instructive, but nearly always entertaining.

More often than not these complaints are lodged by wowsers and/or members of the Grumpy Brigade, both of whom are perpetually grumpy and imagining themselves to victims of some sort. Usually, they have no merit. Sometimes, they come completely out of nowhere.

Such a complaint was lodged against the promotional poster for “Out Takes 2011 – A Reel Queer Film Festival” held in Auckland in Wellington (Complaint 11/309, available online). According to the decision, “A large image taking up most of the poster was of two men, with naked torsos embracing and about to kiss. Wording in the top corner of the poster said ‘Hot Movies, Cool Nights’.”

The poster was not pornographic, and not any different as far as I can see from ads with man/woman models. Nevertheless, L Paton was offended that the poster was in a public place, and felt it was “adult advertising that is promoting homosexuality which is unsuitable for children’s viewing.”

In his decision, the Chairman “acknowledged the sincere concerns of the Complainant with regard to the image in the poster and its suitability for use in an outdoor environment where anyone, including children, may see it.” However, the image was relevant to what was being advertised. The Chairman also ruled “in the context of the festival it was promoting, it did not meet the threshold to be likely to cause serious or widespread offence nor offend against generally prevailing community standards” and that the ad “had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and society.” There for, there had been no breach of any of advertising standards.

Until I started reading some of these decisions, I had no idea that some of these standards even existed. As a layperson, I find it amazing that they can take all complaints seriously, except, of course, they have to. Still, it’s interesting to see how the principles and standards relate to each complaint.

At any rate, this particular decision seems completely sensible to me and correct, not that my opinion matters. I’m glad to see these decisions are neither kneejerk nor reactionary, even if the complaints often seem to be both.

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