Friday 18 July 2008

A whale of a joke

Any CairnsBlog reader will know my love for the folk at Wicked Campers.

Wicked brings joy into our often gloomy world. They are a constant mobile visitor to Cairns and far north Queensland, almost always carrying hot randy backpackers, eager to unload their money at various pubs and late night establishments, star on a CCTV, and then dive the Reef the next day.

You will probably know that these uniquely-painted camper vans, have been part of the youth travelling tourist market for a number of years. As a good blogger, I'm always armed with my Canon digi-camera at the ready. Not a week goes by when I don't snap another Wicked van to add to my collection. It's my new crack addiction, like collecting stamps for the new Gen X.

So you can imagine my mirth about the outrage about one of their cheeky slogans emblazoned on a van travelling through Cairns yesterday... "Save a Whale - Harpoon a Jap!"

The Queensland Premier is not amused.

"I don't think there's any doubt that this slogan on a van in Cairns is racism, and racism has no place in Queensland,'' Bligh said. "I think it's important to reassure the people of Japan that Japanese tourists are welcomed with open arms here in Queensland, and no more warmly than they are in Cairns."

So I took to the streets yesterday, just outside the Cairns Show, and accosted three native Japanese folk, two of which whom spoke perfect English.

Mitsuzu Uiruriamusu told me that the reaction about the slogan was funny to her and her friends. She also told me she was against whaling and thought they should be protected. Mitsuzu went on to say that a lot of young Japanese people disagreed with what their Government was doing regarding whaling. "Ask my friends who learn English here in Cairns. They will tell you."

It seems that a lot of younger Japanese are more respectful about the environment these days.

However, Anna Bligh believes the Wicked slogan is bad taste and one that "is damaging our reputation internationally''.

"I would encourage anybody who sees these sorts of slogans to bring them to the attention of the relevant authorities, because I'm determined to stamp it out,'' said the Nanny State's new Mother hen.

Last month my good mate Paul gave - or loaned, I'm not quite sure - his old Toyota HiAce to me - whilst my 77 Landcrusier gets sorted. It's a prime inviting canvas for the budding Wicked artists. So I approached the lads in the marketing department saying that they can do their darnest, all I wanted, is some shameless advertising on it as well. I'm sure Paul would approve.

Maybe a more appropriate slogan would be... `Save the Yacht Club - Harpoon a Labor Politician' ?

Here's some of my favourites I've snapped over the last few weeks around town...


Anonymous said...

Hi there Mike. Get the boys at wicked to paint to their hearts content. The old thing needs a paint job anyway. I have often thought about doing a grafitti job on it myself. First when Big Kev was mayor, and now that Val is mayor. I was trying to think of some different slogans, but, I think I will just change the names.


Anonymous said...

Well, I'm all for free speech.

What's more, I appreciate a good advertising stunt.

So I'm happy to make my own free contribution to Wicked's innovative campaign to spice up FNQ's cultural life and boost our image as a tourist destination by formenting drunken brawls in our pubs and fights on our streets.

I do think Wicked's 'sense of humour' was wasted on our Japanese guests. These are notoriously polite, well-educated and inoffensive folk. It was predictable they'd cop it sweet and smile politely (but heaven knows what they are thinking).

It's not 'wicked' unless we insult someone who might argue back. Not wicked at all. It's sad.

So here's a few suggestions to raise the temperature. I have more in reserve, many less tasteful, but I'll see how Wicked gets on with these before I take the gloves off.

--- "Stop Illegal Wars - Drown a Yank"?

--- "Stop Illegal Wars - Punch-out a Pom"?

--- "Stop Illegal Wars - Assault an Ozzie"?

--- "Conserve Oil - Murder a Trucker"

--- "Save the Reef - Poison a Cane-Farmer"

--- "Save Kangaroos - Lynch a Redneck"

--- "Fair Go for Abos - Spear a White Fella"

--- "Justice for Abos - Poison a Water-tank"

--- "Clean up the Streets - Firebomb an Ad Agent"

--- "Stop Ugly Slogans - Let Down my Tires"

Anonymous said...

"So I took to the streets yesterday, just outside the Cairns Show, and accosted three native Japanese folk, two of which spoke perfect English."

I presume you mean "two of whom"? How dare you adopt a racist usage of the English language which treats these Jap kiddies as less than human!

Anonymous said...

Funny I found this very topic on a Japanese news site that millions of Japanese people browse every day. and no one thinks this is a "joke". Unfortunately it is not just a whale issue. There are a number of issues related to Australia and Australians that Japanese people find offensive.

And one another things. Japanese people changes story depending on whom they are talking to... just to maintain a harmonious dialogue and keep everybody happy. am I!

Japanese people (include myself) are currently very interested in the details regarding this company.
Thank you for the all information :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

You're openminded, non-racial views are to be admired. And indeed, your sense of humour also, which should be encouraged in today's ahem, moderated society.

In fact, in regards to Syd's comments, it is folk like yourself who merely perpetuate racism, perpetuating the hate. If everyone just LIGHTENED UP a little, and treated 'racism' for the joke that it really is, sooner or later, such words would have no effect. I'm white, oops sorry Syd, 'Anglo-Saxon', and have no issue being called 'Skip' 'Whitey' etc etc.

Get over it!

All of us have some kind of 'name' for each other, it's just that some don't have enough guts to come out publicly and admit it. By admitting that we do so, we merely recognise that we are actually ALL THE SAME thus ending the cycle of 'racism'.

Same goes for you Mr Ruxton, do you always pick through good natured folks wording??

Haha, the P.C blog police are here!!

Could you kindly post links to some other blogs you have mindlessly added to, so that we all may judge you also, I mean, that would be okay with you wouldn't it Mr Ruxton?

The reality is, we are just as bad as each other, so good on you Mike for promoting truly 'Free thinking'


Anonymous said...

I agree that Mike does us all a favour by providing CairnsBlog as a forum for debate - a place where issues can be aired, especially issues that the mainstream media either ignores or treats in a biased way.

Mark's advice to 'lighten up' is also well-taken. I’m sure we should all lighten up. Sure we should.

But I think Mark misunderstands what I - and possibly others - find offensive about Wicked’s slogan. It isn’t use of the word ‘Jap’. That’s an abbreviation of the word ‘Japanese’. It may carry negative connotations for some Australians. But that’s not the issue.

The offensive word was ‘harpoon’. I accept the slogan was obviously intended to be taken as a joke. But advocating random acts of violence is not particularly funny. Especially to visiting people, suggested as targets.

Imagine, Mark, that you visit Japan, and someone points out a slogan on a bus that says, in Japanese “Save Kangaroos – Shoot Aussies!’ You notice people looking at the slogan, pointing and laughing, chattering away in a language you may not understand.

Would you feel welcome? Would the experience enhance your trip? Would you think better of the Japanese for their ‘wicked’ sense of humour? Would it motivate you to oppose the regular mass culling of kangaroos?

I doubt it. Fortunately for you, you will never experience such a thing, because Japanese culture – and the Japanese people – would never be so naff.

I don't believe the courts should be used to censor free speech. I don’t believe the State needs to get involved. As long as we all 'lighten up', as you so deliciously describe it.

But 'lightening up' does not mean shutting up. If we want a peaceful, self-managed, happy and fun community we don't achieve it by saying nothing when we witness tasteless and offensive behaviour. We need an active citizenry that’s not afraid to speak up.

'Wicked', in my opinion, is quite entitled to its 'sense of humour' / publicity stunts.

I - and others - am entitled to say that I think that Wicked’s 'sense of humour' is tasteless and contemptible - and that the slogan under discussion is (or should be) an embarrassment to the Cairns community and Australians as a whole. It says something unpleasant about us. It shows how crass we can be.

If that's too 'heavy' for Mark, I think he may need to lighten up.

I say this, incidentally, as a long-standing critic of commercial whaling. I wish Japan would put an end to its commercial whaling program. I don’t support the fig-leaf excuse of ‘scientific research’. I’m surprised that such a sophisticated people continue with this practice and try to continue and expand it.

However, I think we ‘Anglo-Saxons’ need to take our own faults rather more seriously. I have more faith in the Japanese people’s ability to correct what I believe is an anachronistic flaw in their culture that in the ability of people in the USA, Britain and Australia to quell our nations' apparently endless thirst for murderous, destructive and unnecessary wars - wars usually based on blatant and demonstrable lies.

The points made "good bad ugly" were, I think, very true. Japanese people, in general, are exceedingly polite and seek to avoid conflict. I believe it’s a very good idea - especially for travelers - to avoid conflict if possible, for practical reasons alone.

What's most crass about this case is the exploitation of another culture’s good manners to get away with a publicity stunt that no company in its right mind would target on other, less peaceable sectors of humanity who might also be in town.

That's why I made alternative suggestions for slogans. If Wicked wants to play hardball for free speech and push the envelope, why not pick on people likely to get a little more feisty in response?

Here, I have more suggestions for 'Wicked'. How about?

"Fight Inflation - Lynch a Trade Unionist”
"Enhance Male Pleasure - Fuck a Feminist"
"Save Dugongs - Assault an Aborigine"
"Put Cairns on the Map - Kidnap a British baby!"

If Wicked takes up a few of my suggestions, perhaps CairnsBlog could organize a sweepstake over how long their mini-bus windows remain intact.

I’ll put a dollar on less than six hours.

Oh, and by the way, I doubt I'll be renting Wicked’s vehicles any time soon. I’d be surprised if I’m the only one to feel that way. Presumably the company has already written off the Japanese market?

Anonymous said...

Oh boy oh boy oh boy. Some interesting things said here recently about the politeness of the Japanese and their non-confrontational culture. Unfortunately, it's not entirely true. One example, I can give you, is when I was just out of the house, going to the shops, work, or the pub. Being pointed at, laughed at and talked about, mostly within earshot, and ignorant of the fact that I understood all that was said, was just part of everyday living in Japan. The Japanese are very good at projecting this veneer of politeness, whereas we are very good at projecting one of arrogance.

Anonymous said...

Syd, you are indeed entitled to your opinion, and I completely agree with many of the sentiments you have put forward.

And I for one also find violence abhorrent.

As for war-mongering, are'nt all wars just lies and hypocrisy? And often not based on the opinion of the majority?

Have you ever seen the Wicked 'Buck Fush' van? Swap the letters around, perhaps you may find they may agree with your sentiments there too Syd?

The point I was making is that we, the 'Human Race' are just as bad as each other. After all, we are only one race are'nt we? That's what it's all about, and I think you would find that Wicked shares a similar outlook there too.

By Wicked deciding to put that statement (and many others) on the van, it provides us the opportunity to create change. To create discussion/debate and the possibility for each and every one of us, to just admit that we can be equally as awful to each other, no matter what our heritage.

I do believe that circusmouse has vindicated what I am trying to get across here. That is, that some people are very good at 'covering up' their lack of acceptance of others. And why? Fear of being judged by another I would suspect....

Ultimately I am a relatively simple man, i've travelled (I live o/s at the moment actually) and I have experienced many different cultures, all of which have been positive.

Don't write off Wicked because they confront you to question yourself, or force you to make a stand so that others have the opportunity to question themselves too.

These actions just bring us another step closer to the melting pot, even if you don't quite agree with the method.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments.

Circusmouse. I can only bow to your superior experience of what Japanese folk really think.

What were they saying about you?

Perhaps we're more accustomed to circusmice, performing elephants and clowns in Cairns?

As for Skippy Mark, I agree with most of what you say Mark, including: "aren't all wars just lies and hypocrisy?"

Does that, however, exonerate Israel, the USA, the UK and their ever-faithful tag-along poodle Australia? I don't think so.

Most wars are based on lies. But THIS pack of rogue states starts more wars than any other nations - bar none. Check the stats.

Australia always has the choice to break ranks with these recidivist war criminal rogue states. New Zealand, for instance, found the courage to do that.

But to date, partly courtesy of our lick spittle political 'elite' with thanks also to our banal, down-dumbing pro-Zionist mass media (not just the corporate media such as Murdoch's vile rags, but also the ABC and SBS), Australia has stuck through thick and thin with the most vicious war monguers on the planet.

Before we 'Anglo-Saxon' folk get too big-headed about our enlightened attitude to commercial whaling (an industry in which we ourselves were soaked in blubber until quite recently), how about taking another look at Matthew 7:3-5 (King James Version)?

3 And why behold the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but consider not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how will thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

New Zealand has pointed the direction.

Now it's the turn of Australians to show we have a higher ratio of human to sheep than anyone previously thought.