As the fall out continued, Dad tried to blitz the media with positive interviews. He was also in need of some quiet time to escape into the ‘Nothing Box’ that the male brain proverbially contains. My normally gentle, mild mannered mother was ready to become the first campervan company to bring down a State government, call for the immediate resignation of the Acting Deputy Premier, and never to vote again for the rest of her life, she would rather pay the fine.
Dealing with this madness reminded me of what mum and dad had to cope with when we managed to annoy no less a person than Anna Bligh, Premier of Queensland. In case you were wondering, there was no rum involved in this particular ‘rebellion’ unless mum or dad had some to try and relax—I haven’t asked.
The Courier Mail kicked things off with an article on the 14th of June 2008. My mother remembers feeling rather shaken, and crying in bed, because this article was suggesting that we project a sexist, racist image as a company. She’d been feeling very uneasy about how far we should or shouldn’t push the envelope for a long time, and this was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I know, I know, it’s a cliché, but most cliché’s are a good way to describe things—that’s why they become clichés! Mum wasn’t ready in 2008 to take down the State government yet, but she does recall losing it at Dad on the phone over his idea to put rude things on the tops of the vans, and angrily splashing paint over the worst ones when she had the opportunity. What can I say—I’ve always been proud of you mum; you are an example of a strong woman who knows her own mind!
Anyway, back to the “Bligh Rebellion”. To our confusion, before we knew what was really going on, complaints were being made to the Advertising Standards Bureau about several of our slogans, specifically “Save the Whales—Harpoon a Jap.” We thought this was odd, since the joke had previously been published in a book, and used as a gag by the Chaser team on their ABC skit show. But hey, after all, they dressed up one of their team as Osama Bin Laden and sneaked him past APEC security in 2007 and hosted a fireworks show of which the centre piece consisted of sparklers spelling out the words “screw APEC” so maybe that wasn’t such a good idea to use their jokes as a defence? I’ll have to think about that one.
I can remember either soon before or soon after all this happened, there had been a couple of other incidents involving people saying stuff that ‘offended’ others which made me think. One was the ongoing issue with the Chaser team—many Australians will remember their “Make a Realistic Wish” skit and the uproar that caused. Then there was the “Red Faces” skit on the Hey Hey its Saturday reunion show that provoked outrage because the performers “blacked up”—it was a parody of the Jackson five but caused a furore in the US. The point here isn’t the details of these incidents, but rather that they caused me to ask myself if I would want to live in a world where no one could say anything that offended me?