Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mute! Mute!

I don't watch much TV usually. When Joss Whedon returns, then I'll have shows . What this means is that I've forgotten how awful TV advertising is. I am often genuinely shocked and appalled by the shit they put on TV adverts.

There was an ad which told us that it was our patriotic duty to lose weight. "What happened NZ?" the viewer is asked - while we are shown pictures of fat people "How did we go from a nation of sports lovers to a nation of couch potatoes. Then there's some flag waving (real flag-waving, not metaphorical flag-waving, and an order to go on Weight Watchers. Although it didn't seem to be Weight Watchers usual style - their focus is usually more targeted to people who might join Weight Watchers (middle-class women).

Until the 'weight watchers' part came up I thought it was government funded. It appears that the government is going in that direction, which I find immensely frustration, because I actually like the "Push Play" campaign. It helps that there is some scientific evidence showing that regular exercise has some health benefits (unlike weight loss, only eating a chocolate bar once a term, and whatever else they've made up recently).

But the non-awfulness of the Push Play campaign is more fundamental than that it's not at all moralistic. It's focused on making exercise doable and fun. I have a very long blog post up my sleeves about the extreme fucked-upedness of linking morality, health and 'lifestyle'.* But for now I'll just point out that telling people they suck isn't a particularly good motivating factor

The Push Play Campaign isn't how I'd go about changing people's exercise levels (if I thought they needed to be changed and I don't have any data on that). Unlike Sue Kedgeley** I don't think people do the things they do because they're stupid or lack information, but because of lack of options. I'd be about lessening people's work hours, making public transport free, providing free recreational facilities, and making sure that everyone feels safe, and is safe, outside day or night. But I'm fairly certain the Push Play campaign isn't doing any damage, and may even help exercise seem more doable.

Unfortunately we seem to be pointed more and more towards state sanctioned damage doing.

* Although now I've mentioned it, you know I'm never going to actually write it.

** There's no way I could get through a post without a dig at her.


  1. I saw that Weight Watchers ad for the first time last night, and like you I assumed it was a Govt piece until near the end. I couldn't believe the gall of it. What disturbed me the most was all the pictures of children - is the suggestion that kids need to be on Weight Watchers??!!

  2. Anonymous7:30 pm

    I agree with a lot of what your saying except one thing...
    You say there's no benefits to losing weight- this is very true if you are already a healthy weight (and being underweight can be a very dangerous thing). However obesity is the leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes AND cardiovascular disease... both of which can be fatal.
    The idea of losing weight for cosmetic reasons repulses me and I don't think we should be told how to look by the media, but there is a lot of evidence to show that weight loss for severly obese people GREATLY reduces the risk of developing such diseases.

  3. Anonymous8:22 pm

    "Unlike Sue Kedgeley** I don't think people do the things they do because they're stupid"

    If stupid doesn’t refer to those people who are less able to make good decisions then maybe we need to redefine the word.

    "I'd be about lessening people's work hours"

    are people who don’t work really more active than those that do? Surely not?

    "making public transport free"

    Nice idea but possibly out of place since doesn’t that encourage people NOT to exercise?
    Unless, that is, if it is presupposed upon the assumption that public transport is so inefficient you will never find a bus stop anywhere near your home or your work.

    "And making sure that everyone feels safe, and is safe, outside day or night."

    How would you do that since you oppose police? Vigilante groups? or just by asking mr shipton and his mates nicely to stay inside during the night time?

  4. Anonymous - there is no scientific evidence that losing weight will increase your longevity, or decrease your risk of disease (in fact the opposite, losing weight, even deliberate weight loss, is associated with higher mortality).

    While being fat is correlated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease - that is not evidence of causation. I'm not aware of evidence that people lessen their risk of developing a disease by losing weight (which is different from the proposition that people who are thin are at less of a risk of a disease than people who are fat).

    I hate making this particular argument. Because I feel it gives too much ground. But I feel obliged to, because so much of what gets discussed in the media is nonsense.