Raised pinkie only provokes a raised middle finger
ANYONE who has spent any time in NSW would be familiar with the provocative “small-penis” advertisement aimed at combating hoon driving.
The ad, filmed in slow motion with a classical music soundtrack, features a pimply-faced youth, still on his P-plates, who almost loses control of his crappy old Toyota Corolla while trying to do a burn-out.
His mates in the back seat look at each other, raise an eyebrow and smirk, then make a wiggly gesture with their little finger as if to say their driver friend must be so poorly equipped tackle-wise that he has to compensate by being a big man with the car.
The same driver then tries some circle-work in front of girls at a bus stop, and gets the small finger treatment again.
It’s the kind of commercial that wins awards for advertising agency guys who probably get around in sports cars and drive in much the same way.
From a crowded field, I’d say the ad is one of the most anti-social contributions the soon-to-be-extinct NSW Government has made to daily life in increasingly frazzled Sydney.
There doesn’t appear to be any research on this, but you wouldn’t be surprised if the ad has done nothing to stamp out hoon driving, but quite a bit to cause more road rage.
I found one reference on a motoring website to a court case a few years ago where a woman made the small-penis gesture to a male driver, who threw a bottle at her car and was charged. At the subsequent hearing the magistrate said that while the man’s conduct was indefensible the woman’s gesture, inspired by the ad, had contributed to his rage.
Last year while picking up the kids from school and day care, I was cut off by a woman who swung out in front of me, totally in the wrong, and almost took out the front of my car.
When I honked she gave me the little-finger gesture, prompting me to use what the kids like to describe as a bad word.
Friends have told of similar encounters where they have been given the little-finger treatment by other motorists who have been in the wrong and whom they had honked at not out of rage but to avoid a collision.
Whether these finger-wavers were correctly assessing our physical dimensions isn’t the point here. The point is that public money is being spent on ads which have the end result of keeping people angry and edgy on the roads.
The best thing any government could do in Australia is mount a campaign encouraging people to behave civilly on the roads, rather than threatening them for failing to do so - or worse, giving lippy morons a handy new finger gesture that will succeed only in generating more roadside fights.
The entire emphasis of government advertising needs to be rethought. Currently it’s all stick and no carrot.
People don’t like governments much anyway. Governments contribute to that dislike by using our money to fund ad campaigns that make us feel like potential criminals, and which cement the notion of government as an all-powerful, always-watching Big Brother.
For dangerously anti-social stupidity, the NSW RTA’s ads are in a league of their own.
The most unusual recent contribution to the deluge of taxpayer-funded, nanny-state advertising is the South Australian Government’s campaign against “drink walkers” - that is, boozy people who wander in front of your car.
These ads feature a fuzzy black and white photograph of a bloke who looks like he’s had eight pints and eight Bundys waltzing into the middle of a busy intersection.
Some deaths, while obviously tragic, can probably be callously filed away under the broad category of natural selection.
Yet in SA it’s been determined that this is such a massive issue that big money should be spent urging drivers to keep their eyes peeled in case someone makes a drunken dash from the bucks night and under our wheels.
Governments have to spend money on something, I suppose, and at least it makes a change from encouraging the public to make jokes about each other’s private parts
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