Sunday, August 26, 2007

Essay 4374

From The Chicago Tribune…


A question of manhood

Boys will be boys, the saying goes, a shake of the head and a shrug used to convey the impracticality of trying to corral the speed fetish common to young men.

In the Sydney region of Australia, young men have been particularly busy driving fast and crashing cars. Males 17 to 25 years old make up 7 percent of the drivers there, but they were involved in more than a third of all fatal crashes between 2002 and 2006.

Speed bumps don’t stop them. Speeding tickets are easily disposed. Dire warnings of the mortal dangers of speeding in a car have been ignored. “How,” an Australian road-safety official asks, “do you make this behavior socially unacceptable?”

The answer: a cheeky, risque ad campaign questioning the manhood of those who leave tire tracks as their calling cards.

The ads, launched in late June, feature passengers and onlookers waving their pinkie fingers -- a gesture that, in non-verbal Aussie parlance, implies a man’s physical endowment doesn’t measure up. Laws have failed. Australians hope humiliation will do the trick.

Australians aren’t the only ones to have had this idea. In Bangkok, officials instituted a plan requiring police officers who commit minor infractions -- such as tardiness and parking violations -- to wear bright pink Hello Kitty armbands. Alas, that plan was quickly dropped because wearing a girlie cat was deemed too embarrassing for Thai cops.

But embarrassment is precisely the goal in Australia. And it just might work.

The ads have been downloaded more than 100,000 times from the Web site of the New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority. The site has crashed several times from the heavy traffic -- no pun intended.

The potential sequel: ads that show slower, more careful drivers getting an approving reception from women. That, it seems, would get most boys’ attention.

1 comment:

on a lark said...

i was able to view the spot. it's well done...
i pinkie swear.