Harold Bishop has a posse

The Rae St Institute > Blog archive > Two part titles: In which it becomes clear that I tend to crap on a bit

Okay, so I haven't blogged for ages. All that this means, is like the proverbial, well.. erm, unfulfilled need, I've got a month's worth of blogging banked up. Gradually getting sucked into blogland is a scary thing at times.

So, what have I been up to? I hear you think. And by 'I hear you think', I of course mean 'I'm going to tell you, segueing into it using a silly persuasive ruse that's highly transparent and end up explaining it in such a way that is doubly self-reflexive as it --- ah fuck it.

Well, I've been finishing a film. I've been writing a thesis, I've been doing loads of work, occasionally (read: rarely) sleeping (and having trouble with such). But most of all lately I've been reading lots of cultural theory.

Theory with two part titles.

You know: titles that are split in half with a colon.

With the serious side, and the smart-arse side, or the serious side, and the not quite-so-brief-perhaps-explaining-things-a-little-better-side.

And that, my friends (or not as it may be) is how I plan to structure this entry. With two part titles (ooh, reflexive structures already..)

In fact, I've even employed my super-terrific-nerdo-destructo-ray-machine to create a chapter listing. Whereby you can skip through/back/forth/whatever until your ravenous text-consuming brain explodes, or catches on fire, or somesuch. Burning villages, and all that.

When theorists attack: Recontextualising Recontextualised Recontextualisation Theory, Revisited

No, I'm not talking about when Laura Mulvey plucked out my Kung-Fu instructor's eyes in 1986 for criticising her over her essentialist approach to the female gaze.

And it's not even really about theorists attacking anyone, I just liked the whole trash-TV aesthetic going on there. Comin' up on tha side. And such.

I'm in a way just reacting randomly to the whole back-and-forth arguments that go on in theory..

Mrfhhr Mrfmrnnfrnmnfr makes a valid point in "Recontextualising Recontextualised Recontextualisation theory" (1979), where they basically point out that my entire argument is bullshit and I'm some kind of fraud.

While I do stress that their point is entirely valid, I'd also like to point out that it's full of shit. As I now restate my entire argument, top to bottom, you'll see that even with these valid criticisms, I am entirely bullet proof, sixty feet tall and possibly on fire.

Okay, so I'm way way way over the mark on both the generalisation and the exaggeration thing here, but it's sometimes the feeling you get, where you see a response to someone's argument acknowledged by the original proponent as 'valid, but ...' and then they spend the rest of the article restating their original argument as if somehow a restatement invalidates the criticism.

It's tricky with cinema, because especially post-1960, the filmmakers are aware of the theory, and everything starts going in circles. But even before that. The whole Freud thing in the 40s/50s is quite funny/fucked up, really, especially when you have such a low opinion of Freud as I do.

Which is why I'm starting to think (though as of today not so sure) Deleuze is the shit. As is anyone else who says Psychoanalysis is bullshit (except in cases where the filmmaker is aware of the theory and has obviously used it).. well, at least irrelevant. Though two hours worth of seminar today cemented the fact that Deleuze isn't exactly solid or easy to place on a lot of things. Especially the Time-Image; it's another one of those theories where everyone who reads it comes out with a conflicting opinion.

And if a time-image is taken as simply based in external-referentiality; that is an image/obsign/sonsign that triggers a recognition from memory (and thus a displacement in time), can't that be said for ANY image? Aren't all images time-images then? Doesn't comprehension of any image - moving or not - require recognition of the objects or spaces within it to construct the space it represents? Doesn't the space in a photograph that you see after you've been to the place make much more sense than before you've been there? All perception is remembering. Though Deleuze implies this too.. messy.

But I'm veering off what I wanted to talk about.

What sticks most in my mind on this subject is when a certain well known feminist theorist in a seminar the other week said "I don't believe in the patriarchy anymore" (not naming person here because... well, maybe just for mystery value). In particular the reaction to it...

The reaction of course being a quiet smile and nod at the time, but a week of gasps from most present afterwards. Huh?!

What's with the aura of power that people put around theorists and theories. For fuck's sake, it's like chess, and they're like, well, maybe grand masters at it; but is it heresy to say "Hey, Kasparov, what were you thinking with that move?" Of course not. Why then could people not bring themselves to react in any way even remotely proportional to how they felt about it at the time?

It's like the aura around garden variety celebrities.. it's bullshit. And I'm not saying that because I'm like, y'know, totally friends with everyone famous, so I'm comfortable with that..

Because I'm not.

With everyone.

Friends with them.

The famous people.

Cookies on dowels.

Googlebombin': McGee McGee McGee McGee, McGee McGee.

So it worked. It took a while, but it worked. And Eugene's escaped a jail term, though there's now a royal commission.

I'm always dubious about attacking court case proceedings, and to be honest feel a little odd about what happened with the Google-bomb, but hey. Mike Rann may be scoring political points off the whole thing, but I still think that what happened was an absolute travesty. Though in hindsight maybe better to have waited for the verdict to do. My bad. Anyway..

His defence was partly based on the fact that he was distressed after defending the Snowtown murderers. Fair enough. Of course that's highly distressing.

But what of the automatic right to drive? If he was that 'distressed', and had been drinking, he simply should not have been driving. The right to drive is the right to be in control of a ton of steel travelling at over 100km/h. This is not a right that should be given lightly, and certainly not judged automatic. The risks involved when the driver is not at their best are not 'acceptable'. They are not par-for-the-course.

It's another case of true-cost-analysis, really. What is the value of someone driving a car? What are the costs? How does the potential cost of someone being killed weigh up against the 'value' of getting to work quicker / not having to wait for a family member to drive you home / ripping up, degrading, selling off public transport infrastructure?

There are orders of magnitude of difference. It just doesn't add up. Considering that someone has an automatic right to drive no matter what mental state they're in, and that mitigating circumstances (had a few drinks, was distressed..) are acceptable, well, it's just not a value judgement I can reconcile.

But speaking of attacking court proceedings, I'm glad Channel 9 ran the Schapelle Corby All-Star Extravaganza (featuring Richard Wilkins, Tonia Todman and the entire cast of Macleod's Daughters!).

No, really, I'm glad.

I'm glad Kerry Packer does his own weighing up and calculated an improvement in ratings across all states during a one hour timeslot (and revenue from SMS voting) to be worth:
  • Damaging Australia's already swiss-cheese reputation in the region.. What if Indonesian TV ran a show attacking the Australian legal system? Oh, but that'd be PROPAGANDA! WHAT A SCANDA-- oh, wait a minute..
  • Possibly prejudicing court proceedings involving the life of a young tourist
  • Continuing their fine tradition of fucking things up for defence lawyers (Jo Hall Presents: The Bali 9™ One Hour Musical Special! With Jason Holden and the Russell Street Argonauts!)
Really, yeah, glad.

Not being sarcastic at all.

No sarcasm.


Toyota responds: It's all fantasy and none of it is our fault at all. Like, totally.
Back onto the subject of cars and responsibility (what's that?)...

OK, so I fired off an email re the whole Smash-up-beachfront-roadworks and smack-a-bunch-of-cars-together ads. About a week later I got a response, standard old "thankyou for your interest." Pah. That was that, I figured.

Then a couple of weeks later , I get this: (props to 36 for some of the response here, and juz for the ASB quote)

Dear Mr Ziegler

Toyota takes its responsibility as an advertiser very seriously and we make extensive efforts to understand and respond appropriately to community concerns and issues. We also voluntarily support the FCAI Code of Practice for Motor Vehicle Advertising which is in place to act as an independent party to ensure that all automotive advertisers consider these issues in the way that they advertise.
The problem with the FCAI Code is a loophole we'll see soon -- the loophole of 'fantasy'. While the code prevents representation of speeding/unlawful behaviour, advertisers can still do it, but just explain it away as 'fantasy' and everything's ok.

Over and above this process, we have established our own thorough internal review processes to ensure our communications conform to our own strict standards. Additionally we always seek independent legal advice and that of the Commercials Acceptance Division to ensure suitability of the commercial, well before production begins. The Hilux TV ads have like all of our advertising has passed through this rigorous process.

The Hilux commercials you have responded to are designed to be no more than an introduction of a totally new vehicle. We acknowledge that the vehicle is in fact bigger, more powerful and suitable for more applications than the previous model Hilux, and advertising these features should not prevent Toyota from designing a creative communication to express these product benefits within the guidelines I have expressed.

In fact we been careful to clearly create a fantasy
Here it is (see above)
, an imaginary scenario where without causing any aggressive or violent contact, everything the vehicle passes is influenced by its presence. This is design to be no more than a self evident exaggeration of the vehicles features.
The problem I have with this argument is that car advertisers in the past have used the 'fantasy' line in relation to the voluntary code and it seems to be the get-out-of-jail free card, so to speak.
"The Board considered that most people would view the
advertisement as portraying fantasy, and determined that the
advertisement did not contravene the FCAI Code. Accordingly,
the complaint was dismissed."
(Taken from ASB Complaint Determination 92/03, 8 April 2003)
This quote is in relation to a Sabb 9-3 Sport ad, which showed a man at a function leaving for a moment, speeding around town, and executing a handbrake turn into a parking space in a medium-sized street in a built-up area. The fantasy/reality line was not drawn as it often is in advertisments; I would not call the portrayal of the drivers behaviour subjective or dream-like, but yet it was dismissed as fantasy.

In reference to your campaign, and the voluntary code, I would certainly call smashing through roadworks barriers aggressive contact. I would certainly posit that overturning nearby cars implies "menacing" behaviour, as does shunting all the cars in the carpark out of the way, and most importantly as does the tag-line, which crystallises my issue with your campaign in the first place.
At no point do we see the Hilux actually hitting any item - the idea is that these objects are moved by the intangible, unseen force of the vehicle. We also make sure that any people who appear in the ads are immune to this force and are intrigued, rather than frightened or intimidated, by the scene before them. At no point is a person affected by this force.

At all times during the commercials Hilux is driven within the speed limit applicable to its setting. We took great care to ensure that all road rules, including speed limits, were respected and adhered to.
I agree that there's no breach of the speed limit in the campaign, but speed is not at all an issue, because this is not a vehicle you're advertising for its speed; your campaign thrust is based around it being large, powerful, menacing, and forcing everything else out of its way. Whether the force is seen or unseen is a moot point; the issue is you're pushing your product on the premise that it gives you unassailable supremacy on the road.
The campaign as a whole, including the tagline "get in or get out of the way", is intended to be no more than a call to action for utility buyers to "get in" and seriously consider purchasing what we believe to be the best product of its kind available to Australians. It is definitely not designed to inflame or influence anybody's attitudes to driving or even in fact the use of 2WD or 4WD vehicles in any circumstance.
It is certainly a 'call to action', as you put it, but I see it as exploiting road users' justifiable and self-feeding fear in a climate where an increasing proportion of drivers are behind the wheel of larger and larger vehicles. Your point earlier of the campaign 'advertising the features' is, with respect, a little specious. The TVCs you have produced are not at all feature-based; this is perhaps why they are creative. I do acknowledge that Toyota are highly regarded for their advertising campaigns and they are often smart. In this case you are differentiating yourselves from the rest of the market by advertising a concept rather than the standard 'free air, drive away no-more-to-pay' features and benefits car advertising; your brand concept is of supremacy and dominance.
Mr Ziegler, we are sorry that the ad disturbed you and appears to you, to be of an aggressive nature.

It certainly was not our intention as can be seen from the comments above. Please be assured that we have taken on board your comments.
I can understand that you always have to stay ahead of the market, but you are on a very dangerous line here, literalising concepts that many industry pundits, commentators and wider-community road users already know too well: that people buy larger vehicles not because they need them for practical reasons, but because they want to feel powerful / safer. It's a further push along the line that GMH ran with the (admittedly much more simplistic) "you ride higher in a Cruze" campaign.
We thank you sincerely for taking the time to write to Toyota and please be assured of our best intentions at all times.


##### #####
Customer Relations Advisor
Toyota Motor Corporation Australia Pty Ltd

Thanks for taking the time to respond. A much better and more considered response than I expected.

         H Ziegler

The concluso-bit: ?

There's actually a crapload more stuff I'm honestly just too tired right now to finish turning into stuff that vaguely resembles sense. Including the whole 1970s thing I've been vaguely alluding to. Featuring:
  • how much the 1980s is going to suck
  • the P.P. McGuinness infested hell that was The National Times
  • abovementioned tableughd (think 'tabloid' pronounced while vomiting) ripping into Dr Jim Cairns for being not enough of a hippy for them, and ripping into hippies for not wanting to have tea and biscuits with loggers.
  • some crap about time travel
  • $2.97 in old rotting coins
So this isn't quite the whole month's extrusion, but being that, like, apparently I'm getting, ~100 people a day here for some reason, I figured I should at least throw something out there.

Until next time, good day.

And don't go prejudicing any more court cases, Eddie/Kerry/Ray.

No, really, it's really quite The Fucked.

2 Comments - [post a comment]

congrats - Hugh Gene MacGhee, Tuesday, June 7, 2005, 8:25 PM
congrats on the GoogleBomb. Little people can make a difference after all, it seems.
congrats part 2 - Hugh Gene MacGhee, Tuesday, June 7, 2005, 8:31 PM
as for your legal discomfort, I share it somewhat. But the plain and simple truth is that Eugene killed another person, violently and in cold blood.
His mental state at the time is irrelevant. It happened. There are consequences - though, apparently not for him.

How ironic that he defended the Snowtown murderers, who also killed in cold blood, and they were convicted, yet his own defence was successful. Maybe his lawyer is a better lawyer than him.
Never go to the hairdresser who has a fantastic haircut - ask them who their hairdresser is.