My dreams of swimsuit model-laden safety videos are over.
I'm only kidding (mostly). I don't really expect any safety advisories in any capacity to be spoon-fed to me by bikini-clad babes. In fact, my first thought, after watching this Air New Zealand flight safety video that got kicked from rotation after a Change.org petition called for its removal, was this: "What did they say? I missed it." Maybe this whole 'sexifying' safety is not the smartest move to endorse, but I think it may be being nixed for the wrong reasons.
A quick little history here: Air New Zealand decided to build on the success of their Bear Grylls in-flight safety video of yesteryear by getting a bevy of Sports Illustrated models (half-naked SI models, to be clear) to walk air travelers through those exhaustive -- albeit critical -- prep steps for flying. Australian Natasha Young started a petition that quickly garnered 11,000 signatures and the airline subsequently removed the video and returned to the safe, chiseled smile of Bear. Although denying that the onslaught of critical backlash had any impact on their decision, I think we can all agree that the collective outrage of parents and women in general, helped nudge the decision along a little. Shocker.
Here's where I land on all of this. I don't think this video is offensive to women. In fact, for me, these women look fantastic and all actually thought they were likely doing something a little more productive than simply being the object of boys' attention as they hit up the magazine racks clamoring for the annual SI Swimsuit edition. I'm not suggesting they were naive enough to think they were saving lives, but I am sure the idea came about from a good place and meant no offense. When Young suggests that they use safety as "an excuse to objectify the sexualized female body," I think there is a point buried beneath some poor language. While there are some terrible missteps here in terms of passenger safety, and some mild ignorance to the presence of the deeply religious or underage, I do not think this is where the battle against objectifying women is going to be won.
The fact that children can see the video is a bit of a problem. Agreed. The fact that religious people may be offended and that "teenage daughters deserve more respect" is a bit troubling to me. Do we not live in an age where I see parents letting their kids watch Miley Cyrus lick teddy bears, or whatever the hell she does? Are these same teenage girls not walking around with iPhones and granted access to tawdry images of Rihanna or whoever else popping up on Instagram? This video brings much more tastefulness to the allure of beautiful women and it does so with a sense of humor about itself. I can hardly say the same for loads of stuff my nieces get exposed to when they pop open their tablets and drop into someone's Facebook feed.
We tend to get all worked up these days when we see the beauty of women being used to endorse a product. I know loads of women who make a living in front of the camera and behind the camera. The vast majority of these women would look at this as a failure in advertising communication; not as a failure in the portrayal of women to the next generation. They would say it was a bad idea, not a sexist one. That's why it should be pulled. Because nobody would ever remember where the oxygen masks are in an emergency after that video. I sure didn't.