It’s great when public service announcements try and reach out to youths by showing off their cred in humorous fashions. Yet, one particular road safety ad in Australia seems to take things a little too far [via The Sydney Morning Herald]:
The government announced on Monday a new online advertising campaign targeting young people who use their mobile phones while driving and don’t wear seatbelts.
The first ad features a young girl dressed like an “emo” and says “every time you use your mobile phone in your car an emo is born”.
What’s so appalling about the ad? Well, some higher up in Australian transport thinks the tone of all the ads mock the government’s “respect agenda.” Yet, when it comes to the emo ad, I see a different issue entirely. It’s an advertisement that openly mocks an entire subculture of youths in the country. To think that it’s sponsored by the government is rather shameful at best.
Now, put aside whatever feelings you may have about emo as a genre or culture, and take notice that indeed there is something that a lot of youths find particularly enticing about what I like to call the mutated version of mainstream emo today. (As a brief aside, emo has been existence for 25 years, has gone through waves of evolution, and the current stereotyped version that people often make fun of hardly reflects the vast history of the genre and subculture.) In that, there is an entire generation of youths who adhere to that culture.
Teens already have a lot of issues to deal with growing up. Most people have been there (unless you are currently a teenager or a pre-teen, in which case, you’ll find out everything yourself), so I won’t reiterate the usual. But, to put it simply, some kids get picked on, often because their different, and often because of how they look. Obviously, emos have become something of a sticking point in youth culture, to the point where a branch of the Australian government’s radar has honed in on the development. After all, when international attitudes towards emo result in anti-emo riots in Mexico, all kids everywhere must hate emos, right?
But, there’s another side to the coin, and it’s those kids who identify themselves as emo, or dress in a fashion that others would consider emo. There’s obviously enough teens dressing in such a fashion to cause others to take notice and speak out against, well, who knows how they’re offended. Inevitably, it’s the teens who are emos that are hurt by such idiotic ads such as the one created by the Victoria Department of Transport.
This particular Australian wing of government should make public service announcements about accepting others who are different instead of PSAs that drive a wedge between teens based on how someone dresses or identifies themselves. It may seem like common sense, but if the Department of Transport is trying to reach out to teens, the last thing it should do is belittle a popular youth subculture.