Has Air NZ fabricated gay backlash story?
Update #2: Air NZ’s official corporate Twitter person has responded:
@philquin The complaints R real.Unfortunately the Privacy Act prevents the release of names but we understand they’ve spoken 2a media outlet
If the Privacy Act were a person, governments and big corporations would queue up for the chance to take it out for dinner and a show. That said, Air NZ claim the complainants are real and that they have spoken to a media outlet — none of which really refutes my claim that Air NZ has milked this for PR gain. I have no doubt you could find a couple of willing and whining punters willing to complain about any imaginable thing. The point is that Air NZ has elevated these complaints by acting on them and then kicking up a fuss. It continues to reek of spin.
Update: David Farrar of Kiwiblog fame tweeted me to the effect that this was already a huge viral hit and therefore Air NZ would have no reason to fabricate such a story. This is a good point, although it doesn’t alter my overriding sense that the so-called anonymous complaints have been leveraged as part of some PR shenanigans.
When it comes to a story about a “gay backlash” at an Air NZ safety video featuring the All Blacks, I feel exceptionally well qualified to have an opinion. After all, I am a lifelong All Blacks fan, a very frequent traveller and a full-time homosexual. It adds yet more that the offending part of the video involves Richard Kahui, a complete bottle of sauce for whom I make an exception to my “don’t sexually objectify All Blacks” rule.
Umbrage-taking is a modern-day epidemic, and New Zealand is fast becoming its unfortunate epicentre. The reported offense at an attempt at Air NZ’s attempt at risque gay-themed humour struck me as par for the course — and my outrage at this outrage will be familiar to readers of the blog.
But I have now viewed the video concerned, and my take is quite different than my standard-issue rant would have it. The video, which is a light-hearted and highly watchable version of the otherwise turgid generic safety spiel, is utterly, utterly harmless. The so-called gay joke is not especially funny, but it is so mild I simply cannot believe that it prompted a gay guy — any gay gay — to complain to anyone.
If I had to bet, my guess is that Air NZ has deliberately stoked this storyline to
send the video viral and to trigger thousands of online views without having to pay leverage the All Blacks relationship and promote the brand. They either grabbed on to one or two outlier complaints or manufactured the whole controversy from scratch. Call me a cynical old queen, but this is as tepid as an Anglican’s bathwater. I sense a beat-up.