The Loneliest Jukebox

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Young's people today/No Respect

Part of the current preoccupation with anti-social behaviour in Britain involves the complaint that people, especially young people, have lost respect for various institutions. This theme was publicised yesterday by the Prime Minister, filmed cleaning graffiti off a wall. It also features strongly in current TV advertising for the Daily Express newspaper, which looks and sounds like a party political broadcast.

Few seem to consider that institutions act in ways which contribute to their own decline by damaging their credibility. To pick a random but grimly amusing example, the Advertising Standards Authority has banned a Young's Bitter billboard which posits a
link between alcohol and sexual success (story here and here). The Young's ads show a male figure with a ram's head in a gentleman's club and by a swimming pool, in close proximity to some underdressed women. (That's right, a ram's head. You would need to be pretty tanked up, or typify various rural stereotypes, to find him sexually attractive.) No sexual intercourse takes place in the ad, so the 'sexual success' is in the minds of the regulators. And most adults recognise that sexual success favours the bold, or at least the party involved who has drank less Young'sBitter than their partner(s) prior to getting it on. Young & Co's Brewery "said the ram in the adverts related to one which had appeared on the brewery's logo for more than 150 years ... the idea of a ram being in the social situations shown in the posters was so preposterous that people would understand it was not real." Quite.

Current Advertising Standards Authority adverts hinge on the idea that the Authority's own adverts are 'a bit rubbish'. This description also applies to its decisions.

* All going well, you should hear be able to me on BBC Three Counties Radio tomorrow after 7am, discussing Jackass TV.


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