Thursday, May 31, 2007

Walk Like a Monkey

Have you seen that TV advert? You know, the one where the bloke goes into the office toilet to find a gorilla coming out of the stalls. The guy immediately starts grimacing and holding his nose, whilst the voice over tells us that you can't control who has used the toilet before you (turns out that it is an ad for toilet freshener - 'Stops Your Loo Smelling Like a Zoo'). Excuse me - isn't that a bit offensive - implying that gorilla crap smells worse than anyone else's? After all, if the ad started with an Asian man, or a black guy, or even someone with ginger hair, coming out of that stall and getting that sort of reaction, there'd be an outcry. And rightly so. On what do the advertisers base their findings? Have they done a study of the toilet habits of gorillas who work in offices? I think not. No, this really is a slur on one of our closest living relatives. Is it any wonder that gorilla went on the rampage in that Netherlands zoo the other week? He'd obviously seen that ad. In fact, the whole implication that zoo animals are responsible for foul smells in toilets is ludicrous. If that really was the case, just ban them from using the toilets in the average workplace. Then you wouldn't need this new toilet freshener. In fact, to follow their logic, they should be marketing it to zoos, not homes and offices.

All of which brings me to the whole issue of stereotyping. It seems that it isn't only advertisers which trade in such things, the security industry is at it now. The latest innovation is a machine which analyses the way people walk. The idea is that said machine can be used at airports and the like to identify terror suspects. Now, I'm not quite sure how this is supposed to work. Do the government propose building up a database of walks? Obviously every terrorist in the country will submit to this, and won't do silly walk in order to evade detection. Clearly, such an idea is ludicrous. The alternative is that they have identified certain 'types' by the way they walk. No doubt terrorists have a furtive walk, homosexuals are light on their feet and gorillas drag their knuckles. Perhaps Afro Caribbeans walk with rhythm? Is it just me, or are developers of security technology now taking the piss, knowing that they can use the 'War on Terror' to sell any load of old cobblers to the authorities? This latest one is particularly offensive as it seems to trade on crude stereotypes. But clearly, in view of the advert I described earlier, I shouldn't be surprised, as this seems to be stock in trade these days. Besides, Gorilla crap doesn't stink, it just smells of bananas.

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