Posted by: duncandrews | November 18, 2009

When was the last time you made a complaint?

At the risk of sounding like a whinger, dobber, moral crusader, and all round fun police, I’ve made a complaint. Two, actually.

1. To Channel 9 for a promotion of ‘False Witness’, which aired on Sunday night. It featured a topless stripper, nipples and all – just a brief shot, but clearly visible. Just to be clear – it was a promo, with no ratings advice beforehand.

2. To the Advertising Standards Bureau for a massive Bunda Boutique poster I’m seeing everywhere, featuring a naked woman lying down in the usual awkward position with the usual bored, vacant, unproductive expression on her face.

A few months ago, I’m sure I wouldn’t have bothered.

But since then I’ve been disturbed and inspired by this book, not only to see just how widespread and damaging the sexualisation of children in our culture is, but to be more active in providing a Christian voice in the public moral discourse surrounding it (and other issues!).

This particularly has stuck with me: “community silence on sexism in advertising is read by advertisers as agreement, if not encouragement, and thus the landscape remains a gallery of highly sexualised images of women that harass and exclude” (p73).

So, I’m complaining. But complainers need a warning too. Paul tells the Philippians to ‘do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above repraoch in the midst of a crooked and pervese generation, among whome you appear as lights in the world’ (Phil 2:14-15).

I’m not entirely sure how to do this – provide a Christian voice in the public moral ‘town square’, while  shining as a light for the gospel. I don’t think it means not engaging. I don’t think it means secluding, constructing walls around ourselves, our families, our churches, whatever.

I do think it means engaging, writing letters, providing a voice – but not in self-defense or anxiety, not in a fearful restlessness born from the idea that Christians are just another interest group trying to make their voice heard. We can engage, but in peace, in the security of the knowledge of Jesus’ lordship over all things – including the advertising industry. We can engage because in Christ we have something to say about the right ordering of God’s world. We can engage because we care for others, for our city that needs Christ, for our children and neighbours for whom Jesus died.
Update: I just received a letter back from Channel 9, and I was wrong about the promo – there was a ratings advice before the ‘teaser’ ad. Sorry Channel 9… I missed the rating advice, and assumed it hadn’t come yet – and changed channels before checking if it came afterwards!


  1. BTW, it’s really not hard to lodge a complaint – just go to the Advertising Standards Bureau website and fill in an online form. Doesn’t take long – but makes a difference!

  2. Me too! A Bardot ad on the buses, after a polite but unsatisfactory reply from the company. And also in response to this book. I think its time to stop shaking our heads and saying ‘its terrible the way society is going’, and time to voice our concerns respectfully. The standards definitely need review and tightening, and there needs to be a history of people raising their complaints through the appropriate channels so that this can happen. As you say, easy to complain through the ASB but not enough people know about it.

  3. Hey Caroline – funny you mention it, Miriam passed on a copy of the email you sent to Bardot, which was another thing that inspired me to write in, so thanks!

  4. […] been wanting to review this book since Dunc first mentioned it when we stayed with him in October 09. It gripped me to the point that we […]

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