Thursday, June 17, 2010

General Observations - a complaint of an ALL ROUND nature (an open letter to the Advertising Standards Bureau - Australia)

To Whom It May Concern,

You may consider this complaint to be superficial and unofficial given your obvious stakeholders. And it is not in response to a 'particular advertisement' but rather at the way things are going across the board.

However, I am a mother of three children and I have a few things to pass along.

I don't watch television much anymore... Because of the advertising. Our television never leaves the ABC (kids shows) hardly, because there is no advertising (despite the fact I also have programming concerns, another issue obviously). I am offended that advertising is constantly thrust in my face, it is incessant and annoying. I have a budget and when I need something I go looking for it!

I am a trained Advertising Professional with Marketing experience and a Graphic Designer. I know the psychology of advertising, in fact I spend a great deal of time with the Art Action Union collective teaching people about it and how it is used to brainwash you to part with your own dear cash, but also how these brainwashing principles can be used positively - i.e.. the opposite of what you see around you and always allowing ETHICS as your guide. I guess in that sense, you are an enemy to my cause :-)

ETHICS... I am compelled to say this again, ETHICS; MORALITY.

As a mother of three who understands the marketing strategies that some (perhaps not all) advertisers employ... I am continually appalled and angry, really bloody angry, that bodies like yourself judge things in the way you do. Lets face it... for every complaint you get there is a plethora of people out there who feel that they don't have a voice at all (regardless of services such as yourselves) and that when complaints ARE made and nothing is acted on you all look like your taking cash in paper bags from the high rollers... sorry, but it's one perception.

Now, sexualisation of children, sexualisation of women in general and the general marketing that takes place for the lowest common denominator of human response is so rife I wonder if people (as you say you base your standards on the GENERAL FEELING IN THE PUBLIC, possibly based on skewed focus groups to a degree) ... what if our public aren't exactly as educated or as behaved as we would like to be as a nation?

Women and children are, according to the UN, marginalised and at risk in many many countries. I am increasingly ashamed in a personal sense, that there ARE NO intellectual or intelligent ads anymore. Before soft porn became the norm in GENERAL media areas (which I have to think this body has benchmarked things that way) you saw some really well thought out and clever ads. Artistic expression in advertising was at an all time high, now advertising executives seem to not be even able to THINK in alternative strategies when presenting to certain potential clients their concepts. These industries are clearly defined to the viewer, but I won't go there now.

What I really want to ask, above all else is to goddam show some community leadership please!

I will state again, Women and children are, according to the UN, marginalised and at risk in many many countries (this one included) and I am constantly, constantly engaged in conversations with other parents about the appalling 'standard' of the advertising in this country when it comes to SEX in a generalised sense.

For one thing not everyone gets turned on by public nudity, in fact some people are actually sickened by it. Not everyone is having sex, particularly not every teenager and for goodness sake let kids be kids...

In some ways the fact that YOU need focus groups to tell you if the community ETHICS of a commercial are in line with "people's level of desensitisation, or rather tolerance" is the opposite of what many believe a leading body in a media (that eats people's brains alive) is supposed to be doing, ETHICS don't change, people's adherence to them does though, and this is evidence in itself that you are out of touch with a dedication to preserving our community morals.

Of course the advertisers are going to pressure you to not regulate them... because SEX sells, but it also keeps people in a state of sexual arousal, particularly if one person is prone to engaging in pornographic activities, and it could validate negative social behaviours in a worse case scenario.

Could you please listen to the academics that place importance on the psyche of our nation, as a born entity of this media that we are told to be obsessed with?

Could you please understand that your complaints system is flawed, for many will not complain because we are told we are prudish or uncool if we don't want to boof that chick in her jeans while her top is off... ETC.

This is an emotional response to a news article, and I have wanted to complain many times, but MUM and DAD are BUSY trying to keep our kids happy and homed and fed, but the increasing drama? The thing I spend more time doing than a lot of things these days, is making sure that my kids understand that they are NOT sexual entities because of marketing. Kids ask questions, they get curious - but letting them be kids and not be caught up with what they should be for another man or woman is MORE important. More important than profit!

Our school's billboard marketing says this week: "Every child, Every chance, Every day" - media removes these rights from marginalised families and communities.

I haven't even started on the psychology of these things for the MANY MANY MANY victims of sexual crime in this country.

Sex also can be traumatising for some... with the philosophy and strategy you have on public display (particularly at this time of reassessment for your body) you are saying:

1. Everyone in this country is of a particular moral standard and there will be NO negative effects in the long psychological haul of life ... I mean, I have seen extreme changes in my life and I am only 34!

2. Everyone in this country agrees with small focus groups, not possible - show me the independence of the survey please. Show me the demographics of the social groups please. Show me the MARKET RESEARCH in a TRANSPARENT and non-industry biased format please.

3. Everyone in this country treats women and children with respect, crime stats attest to this imbalance. Again, as does the UN and World Health Organization.

4. There are NO victims AT ALL as a result of incessant and community complacent advertising over time.

5. That continually pandering to desensitisation of sexual violence, crime and objectification of women and children (and men even) is a GOOD thing for us (yes, your marketing is saying that to me). There can only be one eventual outcome... what happens when no one cares anymore about protecting people sexual rites to abstaining from sexual based materials? ... what are the future of your decisions for the FUTURE of our SAFE community in AUSTRALIA? I guess the church are no longer morally relevant since the worship of money became the new 'religion' therefore we only have YOU to rely on, having said that I don't go to church and maintain my own spirituality, however, for a while there they were our moral lobby group weren't they?

6. That there is no need to tailor campaign to a target audience any further, because if the country are desensitised enough, you can use the general audience to perpetuate massive branding campaigns based on SEX, because it sells to the broadest category of unthinking people willing to part with their cash because some company successfully made them feel horny, or that they should be horny, or that making you buy a product and then use it will make you more bonkable to the opposite sex.

Playing with people self-esteem in this way? What are the social and community actions that will eventuate by continually ALLOWING private advertising to MESS WITH HEADS and marginalising people in their own social group?

7. That every parent is responsible, again statistics attest to this NOT being the case.

These aren't knew topics are they? It's a concern to academics, it's a concern for parents and it's a concern for single thinking people too.

For example, this letter of complaint took me an hour away from my kids, now what if I was to complain about every ad and billboard that upset me to the point of shaking and crying in disappointment and anger?

I would never leave my computer and you would consider me a serial pest... Now should we discuss the personality demographic of those that are brave enough to speak up? We all have different personalities apparently but not if we are getting sexual ads thrust in our sphere of thinking.

The ONLY course a parent can take is to be kind of controlling over content (which we would rather not do), which causes marginalisation and disharmony between parent and child and consequently the household in general, and also pits parents against parents as some people really don't care what their children are exposed to and are exposing other children to. Therefore the fallout is that you say that your kids can't play with their friends because you don't trust their parent's judgement and that kids like to share, particularly if they think they are being more grown up and competitive with their peers.

Also, why the hell are we having cases of 6 year olds sexually assaulting other 6 year olds? Probably 30-50% of mothers and fathers have been at the wrong end of sexual abuse at some stage, maybe we are all getting protective of our kids more than ever... why, because we know we are hurting still to this day and - that the bullies telling us to loosen up and stop thinking 'frigid' are most likely those that abuse.

What will be the fallout?

This seems a desperate correspondence, but I have lots of question marks here in this note... I expect someone to answer them intelligently and personally please.

I also feel obligated to let you know this letter will be published to our activist art network, with up to 3000 people... not to publicly humiliate but to raise awareness... not all of them of course will consider this their view but for the last 10 years, this topic ALWAYS arrives in the conversations I have with other parents. ALWAYS, and they are TOO pressured by all the things we are supposed to be doing to complain about every abhorrent ad... and that also makes me think that if advertisers ASSAULT the community during this DEREGULATED time with marginalised sexual ads, that they create desensitisation in the community very quickly and overwhelm the complainers ... which gives them a good footing with you lot doesn't it, a good argument for their case.

See, everyone wants branding of their product don't they - it's the ultimate retail glory! But you can't achieve branding without marketing to the broadest catchment audience... can you? It's a flawed formula for community value if your product is an adult product!

Please, respond, I am anticipating your rebuttal.

Thanks for listening.

ps. THE the article that stirred me to finally spew at you:

If you would like to make your voice heard, do it NOW, this body are re-evaluating ... Totally happy for you to take any part of this letter for your own purposes if you agree with the wording.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010


What exactly do you do AAU? (oooh, that rhymes!)


Somebody recently asked me to succinctly describe what this thing that we do is?


This was what I said:


Primarily, it does whatever it creatively can ...  our motto is to aspire to inspire!


In essence, the collective becomes multi-faceted - it is a podium and an audience, a gallery, a media service, an agency etc.  Kath runs around the web scoping opportunities
and forging links with other orgs and finding like-minded friends...  I

try to drive traffic...  also, I try to find events to have stalls at,

sell merch, write blogs and find promotional opportunities in heaps of



This year we have already gathered tons of momentum, I have already done one stall at a Brisbane (that's where I live, so I guess that's where we are based) punk gig, had a press ad in a
local net culture mag and been offered a regular column in another ...

have a local Gallery stall soon during our regional art festival.


Eventually, I hope to do more, but as I am just a chick organiser with a family budget and nothing more (not to mention time line), I am satisfied with the pace we are travelling and am very
pleased that people support the concept and what I hope to do...


Which is at it's most fecund ... bringing a spotlight onto a collective of people who use their creative talent and their own personal audiences to promote awareness of socially
challenging topics, whether they be visual, aural or written.  This may

seem a small thing, but it works wonders for enthusiasm and healing

(creative healing of the individual is always a priority)... oh and

education based on personal interaction with other artists in a global



To be diverse, we are not tied to one topic but rather represent the artists needs and their ideas about what concerns them in their part of the world ...  and gather them together... we can
also match (as you noted) artists to causes they care about when

opportunities arrive.


Activist organisations and organisers can approach us with their ads for distribution to our network... on facebook alone we are approaching 2000 people on the profile and we also
have a group and a fan page, we have twitter and all that too... we

have the ning site for creatives who want to join more formally by

having their own aau profile etc.  We have 5 redbubble galleries full of

conscientious artworks and we share the really great ones around, also

giving artists a benchmark to improve their message clarity in their art

etc. and linking everything back to the artists' sales page so they may

hopefully make some money for encouragement, but under art action union



So... taking a deep breath...


With every new organisation or relationship we forge, we are growing - and word of mouth is strong... if we can create the biggest pool of activist artists ever (decentralised) imagine the
capacity for visual, aural and written action if we can somehow

coordinate... or the potential to get really awesome interactions with

the like-minded activists and creatives...  it's a big experiment really

- and I can't stop being obsessed with it...


All I can say is that we are moving and want to shake... we are going and growing and until it stops, neither will I...


So, we are not so much an organisation as a collective - administered by me, only cause I came up with the idea a while ago and decided to test it :-)


We don't do summits like Copenhagen though, but are very proud to have people like Anna who is supporting us in her heart and we brag that we are attached to important campaigners and groups... We did get an invitation to the
"Freedom to Create Awards" last year, but alas, a trip to
London to see Bianca Jagger was not in budget :-P

Is that succinct?


QPUNX magazine is an initiative run by the scene for the scene and it has a sturdy readership so far.  I'm not quite sure why, but they have been really
very supportive of our little 'leftist' type venture... which of course

has me screaming cries of ANARCHY... but then that could just be the

beats and drones of punk!

QPUNX invited us to one of their numerous fund-raising shows at the Jubilee Hotel in Fortitude Valley one rainy Saturday late last month ... and... well...
Kath turned up with her punk rock friend Punxie for a day of I had no

idea what... I had art stuff... rained out... not so good to scream over

the top of the music all the time when discussing this concept... and

the roller derby girls had the interior hot pretty and I felt that I

would just dag the place out... but... with my six foot two punk rock

friend Punxie (of Punxie and the Poison Pens) I mingled and talked...

which is something I do a lot of... about the AAU and about art and

about whatever got attention... I had my teal coloured butterfly (there

are a lot of butterfly's around the punk rock art of time) logo t-shirt

on like the true Indy-car promo chick without the boobs and Lycra.  I

gave out art with the website address to a number of people and did some

word of mouth... it was a really fun afternoon and cool to connect with

a lively and rich bunch of go-harders.  So I didn't get my head punched

in... in fact, some people seemed to actually like talking to me... so I

guess they aren't such an exclusive group...

We are fortunate to have a regular column on a monthly basis where there will be ranting and art venting...  this month will have two feature
artists from our collective so it rolls on!

Below is our article from Issue 3...  Issue 4 is out soonish ... thanks Josh!

Being an Individual is a Paradox

I’m thinkin’ about words.  Not specifically ‘the’ words but the way certain ones are used and adapted for certain definitive socio-tribal aural

In that, collectives of groups form based on things
such as clothes and music – a very broad definition of course – add into

the mix ‘lingo’, ‘handshakes’, ‘gestures’ and ‘struts’.  People of the

same mind may give each other fleeting attention or a ‘sign’ in the

street or club that the secret society is ever vigilant of its members

in public. 

This forms shades of cultures within subcultures,
stereo-types within pigeon holes and a plethora of characterisations for

shows such as The Simpsons to

streamline and make the world simpler for ‘people less inclined to think

deeply’ to understand the subtle, yet marked, differences between us. 

This is when we all relatively live and look the same; we’re not even

going to contemplate the psychological social barriers collectively

confronted when we seek multi-cultural and spiritual diversity, as one

eclectic idea differs from another they all somehow become the same when

we consider the market.

A market that is cashed up and able to
have flogged to them, through marketing and brainwashing, products that

are mass-produced for a mass-produced and groomed consuming market of

people made up of subtle differences.  After all the retail stores can

only do so much to stay afloat and that generally means getting as many

people through the doors as possible to buy a line of the same

product/s.  At the same time though, it seems important for us all to be

safe in the knowledge that there isn’t anyone like ourselves and we are

all really individuals.  Which of course we are, it’s just that we all

buy the same stuff in streamlined ways.  We all seek to identify with

something visual and aural that somehow defines our inner thoughts and

values, to feel safe in the knowledge that there actually are other

people like us.  Paradox!

We all strive to be some sort of
stereo-type (be it obvious or associative), even when we are doing what

the hell we want.  And I guess, even when we are trying to ignore

stereo-typing we become stereo-typed by the stereo-typical because one

strives not to stereo-type.  Check that sentence out for an

idiosyncratic phrase… ha!

A market that is only capable of
needing beyond the needs of needing (already making a large group

similar).  As such, a market that needs to be made up of individuals,

doing the same thing but remaining individual whilst looking to

associate with people similar.  Hence the success of music festival

culture in the fiscal sense.  A single event with musical shades of

sideshow attractions that appeal to a ‘set’ of ‘spenders’ … and

therefore ‘sell-out’ the show.

We like to spend time with people
like us because we like to do things that we like with our time and we

can’t be with someone when they are doing what they like and not what we

like, some of course take this to a greater extreme than others.

at times, the more different we become the more ‘the marketeers’ are

able to tailor our minds to actually behaving the same.  Let’s take a

mild example:  the hippies began their alternative lifestyles in order

to seek to create social, spiritual and environmental change, generally

operating from high ethical moral standards. A way long time back now,

this gave way to hippie fashions becoming ‘mainstream’ and

‘mass-produced’.  One idea for this could be that a freedom of

expression and a bending of visual status-quos became attractive to

those not infected with these notions of social change.  But also, to be

visually identifiable as someone associated to higher moral thinking

whether a conviction to the ‘cause’ exists or not.  It becomes about the

look, not the action enhanced by the look.

Remember when faded
jeans were cool because it meant you proudly went without expensive

materials to prove you were suffering for your art?  Or that you were

humble or consumerism conscious or that you just like wearing old worn

in garments?  Then artificially faded denims go on mass sales in the

shops … it’s that kind of thing that makes me bawk!  Not exactly sure

exactly why, hmmm.

Then fashion and social ideal splinters
because there are reactions to this trend.  And mixes form and it

becomes a myriad and a fractal of personality all looking to find

like-minded personalities using sight and sound.  And the cycle repeats

over and over again. 

So then, language also mutates.  Some
might say that it is generational, but I aint that old and bugger me if I

can understand some of the ‘lingo’ some not so younger people use

amongst themselves.  It’s a coded language.  It might be as mild as

using ‘fuck’ every second word, or it might be a total mutation of the

sentence structure, spelling and pronunciation the entire phrases that

could be used repetitively just to get it out there that these guys and

gals are ‘different’ to the boring old English dictionary folk.  To

create a new language is real fame man, albeit collective fame.

“Bugger Me”

geez – how many stereo-types of language can there be.

I guess… likewise activist artists use certain terms and styles repetitively to

enforce their connectedness, or simply to quickly define the topic they

are approaching.  Which in some ways, is a conscious use of this

psychology to appeal to broad groups about the same issue, whether

people are personally affected or whether they care, to inspire actual

political and social action.

Artists in Residence are a collective of Activist Artists who are

dedicated to the continuation, development, growth and improvement of

the Art Action Union as a force for positive social change. If you would

like to be an Art Action Union official artist in residence, you will

be the first to be called on for special projects and opportunities for

promotion that fit your situation and your beliefs. Send us an email (

and tell us you’re in! We will add your name to our database of talent.

Random visual of the issue:
CCTV Government T-Shirt

Artist: Ross Robinson (