Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Australia's war on "dickhead" drivers

Victoria Police have launched a blunt campaign against dangerous driving, telling people who text behind the wheel or fail to put on their seatbelts "don't be a dickhead":

Not surprisingly, the approach has attracted more than its fair share of controversy — including from young drivers themselves:

Leah Meade, 20, said she believed it was unfair for young drivers in particular to be singled out in the campaign ...

“I think we’re targeted because we are younger, but often it’s a lot of the older people doing silly things as well.

“Older people are as guilty as young people of talking on their phones.”

And the Australian Opposition quipped, "I think it’s an appalling message. I think it’s a shocking message, one of the worst I’ve ever heard.”

The backlash has also spawned a Facebook Group called "Don't Be a Dickhead - Worst Campaign Ever!"

So, in short, the campaign is at least successful in getting attention and getting people talking. As the Police Minister said, “Road safety campaigns are designed to confront, and this one confronts people that don’t have respect for other people on and off the road.”

ninemsn claims the campaign cost just $100,000 to make, and the Premier of Victorian and Communications Council are standing behind it as a strong approach to an important issue.

The "dickhead" move has instantly become a popular meme in Australian politics and media. When asked if race driver Lewis Hamilton was a "dickhead" because of a recent dangerous driving charge, Victoria transport minister Tim Dallas replied, OK, I'll say it - he's a dickhead."

Offensive or not, I think these folks are on the right track. If just one Australian teen tells another "don't be a dickhead" for bad driving, and everyone else laughs, the campaign will have succeeded.

**sound of screeching tires**

But wait! Then there's this weirdness:

Ginger hate? Really? Is there something I don't know about Australian culture?

Okay, Emos I'll give them.

And Twitter? Whatever.

So there you have it. Great meme takes a wrong turn into bizarre and even mean-spirited territory. Damn shame too. With those first three lighthearted PSAs, they had me at "dickhead"...

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