Quick Hit: The Gruen Transfer

In tonight’s episode of The Gruen Transfer the challenge for the segment titled The Pitch, in which “two of the advertising industry’s finest agencies are pitted against each other and challenged with selling the unsellable”, was as follows:

“We live in a country and culture obsessed with thinness. Every day and in every way, plus-sized people are made to feel inferior. Ostracised. Ridiculed. Humiliated. Yet the truth is, more Australians are overweight than skinny. We want a campaign that will end Shape Discrimination, that will make people who can’t squeeze into model-size clothes feel better.”

One of the ads submitted was deemed by the ABC to be not suitable for broadcast but fortunately The Gruen folks were able to make it and an in-depth panel discussion about the ad available on-line. The ad, the panel discussion and the comments on the site are all well worth a viewing, you’ll find them here: The Foundry’s Anti-discrimination Ad.

I found the ad that did air pretty damn offensive. I do understand why the ABC chose not to air The Foundry’s ad and there are problems with the execution of the idea, but what an idea! I’m way too tired and inarticulate to do any proper analysis but I’m very much looking forward to the discussions that I’m sure will be coming on a number of my favourite blogs.

6 Responses to “Quick Hit: The Gruen Transfer”

  1. Dina says:

    I don’t know if the ad would work. It does have good shock appeal. But is that enough? I think their point is to say we wouldn’t allow these offensive jokes, so why do we allow fat jokes? But some people DO allow all those jokes. And the commercial might be just giving those people more material to work with.

    As for weight discrimination, I don’t think we need a commercial for that. I think we need less diet ads, less anorexic-looking models, less size 0-4 in clothing stores.

    I think we need to see people of variety sizes on television. We should see overweight people outside of diet and exercise ads.

  2. Shrinking Tardie says:

    I agree with what Dina said. Thanks to your link Mim I got to see what all the fuss was about. I found it highly offensive but tended to agree with the panel in as much as I didn’t really get what the message was as I was so stunned by the first couple of jokes.

    Along with Dina’s ideas I think we need more ‘fat’ people who are seen as intelligent, worthwhile, vibrant human beings. Because quite frankly – they are. But the image that I have always lived with is that fat people are dumb – ‘beautiful’ people are not.

    Losing weight shouldn’t be about fitting into a size 12 dress or becoming more socially acceptable. Losing weight should be for the health benefits that are associated with a leaner, active body. Having said that, I know HEAPS of unhealthy skinny people. I also know a bunch of healthy overweight folk.

    I’ll never accept myself at the size that I was or that I am now because it’s not how I want to live my life which is why I’m actively doing something about it. But it’s gone beyond wanting to be skinny for skinny’s sake…it’s now about adding years to my life. The side benefit of not having to wear daggily designed, larger folks clothes is just that – a side benefit.

    Phew – that was a long comment after all that wasn’t it!

    Nat

  3. Mim says:

    @Dina – Yeah, the ad makes the false assumption that fat is the last acceptable prejudice which is so monumentally wrong that it boggles the brain. There’s nothing clever or useful in that approach. But I do think there’s value in presenting the idea that fat jokes are discrimination.

    Of course the fact that the fat joke they used is in fact also a sexist joke is a little problematic too (by which I mean A GREAT BIG PROBLEM WHICH PISSES ME OFF). The Gruen Transfer totally fails at addressing sexism, I’ve never seen an episode where it was called out or challenged. In fact it wasn’t till after the ad ended and I realised there wasn’t any more that I identified the last “joke” as a fat joke at all, for me it registered primarily as sexist.

    Fat acceptance – the radical idea that fat people are human beings. That’s what’s needed, portrayals of people of all shapes and sizes being all sorts of awesome and mundane things. Because we are.

  4. yodaobi says:

    HA!
    That’s the first thing I thought of too MIM the Blatent sexism of the ad.
    eeew.
    Dude don’t get me started!!! I probably wouldn’t know how to stop.

    Thanx

  5. Mim says:

    Way to miss the point entirely Sydney Morning Herald:

    When the ad was aired in front of a studio audience a month ago it went down “like a lead balloon”, according to one ad agency executive present. “There wasn’t even nervous laughter,” he said.It’s not SUPPOSED to be funny, it’s supposed to make people sit in shocked silence and examine their prejudices. If people laughed we’d know for sure it didn’t work.

    Shot in black and white, the ad features close-ups of people telling three extremely offensive jokes:
    (text of jokes)

    The fourth joke is:

    – Why did God create alcohol? So fat chicks could get a root.

    The message then says: “Discrimination comes in all shapes and sizes.”So clearly the 4th joke is not extremely offensive? WTF?

  6. Mel says:

    For me the best thing about it has been that people are talking about prejudices etc. But much as I applaud the underlying (don’t be fatist) sentiment I didn’t like the sexism of the ad either.

    Just thinking I was fatist this morning in a reverse way – I’ve joined a 6 week Drop a Dress size programme at the gym and after our first weigh in one woman weighed only 54kg – my friend and I talked about her wondering why the gym would let her do a programme where the aim is to lose 6 kgs in 6 weeks. Maybe I shouldn’t be so bothered about other people and just sort out myself?

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