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Ask yourself: What is it about this commercial that's actually bothering people?

By MAMAMIA TEAM

Quick question.

What’s worse? Using the word ‘bangers’ to describe a woman’s breasts or a whole bunch of people taking issue with a gay man appearing on their television screens?

Welcome to the perverse world of advertising complaints; where the outrage is high, the angry letter writing regular and the offensiveness radar is completely out of whack.

The latest target of bizarre viewer dissatisfaction is Target themselves and more particularly, their new face of the brand, British stylist Gok Wan. Here is the ad in question

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BITFerRrXEo

A number of viewers, took issue with this commercial. In particular, they got peeved about Gok’s use of the phrase “your bangers will never feel more loved,” when talking about properly fitter bras. There were also complaints about Gok’s description of breasts as ‘assets’.

Now, language is subjective and if these descriptors of women’s breasts upset some viewers then that’s fair enough. We’re all offended by different things and if ‘bangers’ isn’t really your thing, then okay. There’s a reason the Advertising Standards Board exists; they hear all these complaints and get to make a call about what is reasonable language for television and what isn’t.

But many of the complainers weren’t upset about the word ‘bangers’ being used on TV, so much as they were insulted that a gay man was using the word bangers on TV. A surprisingly large proportion of those who complained, brought Gok’s sexuality up as somehow relevant to their outrage.

One or two of the criticisms merely argued that it was not okay for a gay man to be using the word bangers, just as it would not be okay for a heterosexual man. Others appeared to be outright offended that a gay man was allowed on television.

Criticisms included:

“Who on earth calls their breasts ‘bangers’ and why do we have to watch an obvious gay man talking about women in this way? It is insulting.”

“Its an offence to any decent person to watch some queer guy advertising and blaspheming and using insulting descriptive words re a woman’s body and to be prancing around half dressed guys. A female body is a beautiful thing, not to be cheapened by a poofter calling breasts bangers.”

“BANGERS”!!! I WAS BREAST FED, NOT BANGER FED! It’s an insult to sooooo many Aussie men and woman to see poofs on tv but you let it happen. I haven’t even started stirring up the national CWA clubs yet so look out!”

Don’t get us started on the irony of complaints about offensive language, using offensive language.

Target has since responded to the complaints. They are standing by  Gok and have questioned why their spokesman’s sexuality needed to be brought into the debate in the first place. Target said in a statement:

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gok wan bangers ad“Gok Wan was chosen as a brand ambassador for Target because of his personality and reputation, not his sexuality… He feels good about who he is as he is…

He is playfully irreverent, colourful and fun. He has a great capacity for making other people feel good about themselves too.

Target strongly believes that a person’s sexuality is irrelevant to their worth as a person. Target makes no apology for using a gay man in its advertising and we do not believe that this should be grounds for upholding a complaint.”

Most of the genuine offence seems to be because of the Australian use of the word ‘bangers’. That is sausages. Meat. But Target assured the public that the word was not supposed to be viewed as derogatory – and was certainly not meant to imply that women’s breasts were meat.

The Advertising Standards Board have considered Target’s ad carefully and concluded that the word ‘bangers’ was not used in a derogatory way and so, the commercial doesn’t breach any advertising guidelines and will continue to air.

So – over to you. Do you find use of the word ‘bangers’ to describe breasts offensive? Why do you think people decided to bring Gok’s sexuality into a debate about an entirely different topic? Do you think we’re simply unused to seeing openly gay men on our television screens?

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