Jan 24, 2013

Plain talking about Dick Smith and censorship

Dick Smith and the writer have disagreed about almost everything since we became friends, and rivals, as rock climbers in the 1960s, after being part of successive attempts on Balls

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Why Dick Smith should never be allowed near an ad using any transport mode

Dick Smith and the writer have disagreed about almost everything since we became friends, and rivals, as rock climbers in the 1960s, after being part of successive attempts on Balls Pyramid near Lord Howe Island.

But the prime time censorship of his Australia Day ‘Dick Smith Foods’ TV commercial is ridiculous and creepy.

You can see it on YouTube, and viewing by your children is recommended too, although maybe a first viewing without them would be wise.


Dick is a supporter of Australian ownership of as much industry as Australians can hang onto, but also a supporter of the current Qantas management, which is giving part of it away to Emirates, so we do disagree, a lot about Qantas. And about a more nuanced approach to foreign ownership, free trade, and why the days of Black Jack McEwen and the protectionist era are over and not coming back, and …. the list goes on and on.

But he is the only conservative I know who has actively supported the Greens on a wide range of issues, including his crucial support of the purchase of Recherche Bay and its forgotten garden, and his support for David Hicks, an Australian citizen abandoned by an Australian government complicit in his politically convenient framing by the most recklessly dishonest American administration in living memory.

There are many other things he has done to the betterment of this country that are in confidence until or if he chooses otherwise.

For Smith to offend the sensibilities of those who want to limit media freedoms ought to be a badge of honour on Australia Day.  And Yes, the ad does ‘exploit’ the plight of boat people, in the sense that it makes fun of them. But, that’s the point. It is an hilarious part of the commercial. It isn’t inciting the sort of venomous hatred that is concocted by and massaged for the political ear of the meanest and most ignorant sections of our society by the policy directorships of the major parties.

Why can’t we be generous and good natured about such things? And have a laugh, even if we must also weep a lot.

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9 thoughts on “Plain talking about Dick Smith and censorship

  1. DrStoat

    Saw the ad online and thought it harmless. Absolutely agree he has the right to make it but doesn’t a media outlet (like any business) have a right to choose whom it does business with? I don’t see how it amounts to ‘censorship’ for a media company to choose not to run an ad.

  2. ltfisher

    I agree it probably isn’t consorship, and of course this is not the first time that the media barons have blackballed an advert by Dick. Just protecting the cash flow from their national advertisers, or letting the market work I suppose! On the other hand perhaps this is something the ACCC should have a look at?

  3. fractious

    Censorship my hairy backside. The agency responsible for rating ads merely said his ad was not fit for broadcast before a certain time – the rest of the hoopla is Smith beating the story up for his own ends.

    If you want to make an argument about the criteria by which these things are judged, fine. If you want to cry hypocrisy and point to other ads that are at least as offensive that still got prime-time exposure, go right ahead. But bleating censorship in this instance won’t wash.

    For the rcord I don’t find the ad even slightly offensive – if anything it’s too corny for my taste – and I know there are far worse that get the green light (the mining industry’s ads for one). But then I don’t decide what’s appropriate for what air time.

  4. comet

    Don’t worry, Dick.

    The National Broadband Network will soon be here, pumping hundreds of TV channels into everyone’s homes. Those traditional free-to-air TV stations that banned your ad will soon not exist.

    There are lots of prudish people still walking the streets in Australia. How ’bout 7’s David Koch being offended by a mother feeding her baby without hiding under a blanket or going to a toilet cubical to feed. Such attitudes are perverted in my books.

    Dick has done some great things. Such as buying a newspaper that refused to run his anti-tobacco ads. However, Dick has done some strange things too.

    On a TV forum a few years ago, he seemed to blame migrants and Australia’s increasing population for making the country’s carbon footprint larger. However, if everyone led Dick’s lifestyle, of owning prime grazing land and private helicopters, and inviting his billionaire friends to his property for a helicopter fly-in, we’d then have a riDickulous carbon problem.

  5. Clancy Jane

    Im sorry but I thought sex sells ??
    Or at least innuendos and cliches 😉
    Seriously, the ad is about being an Aussie – taking the mickey out of us, its a gimmick and a bit of fun.

    C’mon, Dick’s as Aussie as vegemite….. oh wait he’s even more so!

  6. John Lyon

    great commercial, typically Australian. Go Dick!!! Just how precessious does the PC mob have to be? Get out of our lives.

  7. Billy

    A really hammy attempt at ‘viral video marketing’ by the ad agency , with Dick trying to remain relevant (and rightly so) in a sea of corporations that own and control everything. Still, grandma looks like she’d be a riot to play bridge with whilst sharing a cabana .

  8. Kathy Johnston

    Love it ! why cant we have a bit of fun anymore ? News etc is already too censored and sanitised – for goodness sake we are aussies, fun, laughable etc – isn’t that why we appeal so much to the people that want to come here and experience freedom and self expression?

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