There is some language in this article from an Australian ad campaign that may be offensive to American readers.
I am sick of the social norm that says its okay to bully redheads.
This “joke” is common in England. Look at this list of common examples of the problem. A family moves three times to avoid vandalism and abuse. A man is stabbed because he is “ginger”. A woman is repeatedly sexually harassed. A sportsman is mocked by thousands at every game.
A South Park episode last year helped popularize the “joke” in America. South Park is legitimately a satirical show. Their use of the word “ginger” was more than likely to bring awareness to the fact that racist people are still spewing the anagram of ginger to black people across the country. Take note of the recent verbal attacks from protesters of the health care bill. The problem with South Park’s satire is that many of its viewers don’t understand satire, and in fact, hold Cartman up as a hero, mimicking his voice and actions. The result is a set of ignorant young (and not so young) people spreading hate. Hopefully not what the creators planned. As most people who have been bullied know, names have power. Just ask the mainstream media as they label the recently arrested terrorists in Michigan as “militia”.
Australians tend to get much of their humour from England and this case is no different. It is my home state government that has finally made me write this article and I am embarrassed. The VicRoads television campaign is famous for its shocking ads designed to reduce traffic accidents. Over the last twenty years the campaign has shown graphic violence to reinforce how dangerous careless driving can be. It has worked astoundingly well. However, their newest campaign has missed the point on many levels. Their “Don’t be a Dickhead” campaign is astonishingly bad. It has been crafted to appeal to the young drivers. As my ex-boss proved every day, when old people try to be cool, they always miss by a mile.
The first problem is the ads aren’t funny. That’s excusable. The second is that they are using bullying as a way to try to be cool. That is not. Redheads and “emos” are targeted in a number of the ads. “Every time you use your mobile phone while driving, a redhead gets its wings.” “Every time you use your mobile phone in the car, an emo is born.” How is it that this kind of hateful garbage got the green light? No doubt some social media expert wowed the government with their ability to “connect” with the youth of today and make the message go “viral”. Here is the state government’s definition of bullying. You tell me if there’s a problem here.
“Bullying is when one or more people, deliberately upset or hurt another person, their property, reputation or social acceptance, and this action is repeated over time.”
How are the state’s teachers expected to curb bullying in schools when their own government legitimizes it on TV and the internet? They’ve not only legitimized it, but have perpetrated it and asked it to be spread across the world.
The man behind the campaign is Dan Illic. I tell you that because I’d love for you to let him know what you think. His response when asked if the ads were offensive to redheads or emos was, ‘‘Not at all, I think they’re really funny.’’ He is typical of the ignorant response to bullying so common in our society. It is seen as part of growing up. It is seen as harmless.
If someone kills themselves over name-calling, then it cannot, by definition, be called harmless. It’s time to look yourself in the mirror and ask if you’re okay with contributing to someone’s death.
A number of kids in Massachusetts are certainly facing that fact this week. They bullied an Irish girl to death this year and have now been charged with felonies. I couldn’t be more proud of Massachusetts.
Making fun of redheads is bullying. Period. Next time you hear someone making a joke, let them know. The bystanders are the ones perpetuating the problem and I’ve been one for too long. I’ve made my decision – time for you to make yours.