Air New Zealand has a new safety video. It’s part of their on-going series of alternative safety videos, which have become a core part of their image. This time, they’ve taken Sports Illustrated swimsuit models to the Cook Islands.
You can watch the video here, but do be aware that it’s classic objectification of women, with a side serve of using people from a minority ethnic group as props adding local colour.
I’ve been in the media talking about it, and it turns out that I’m not the only person raising issues with it. Pam Corkery thinks that Air NZ has gotten it all wrong, and Hilary Barry is absolutely incensed by it.
“I’m incensed. I’m absolutely incensed by the safety video.
“I think it’s highly inappropriate, sexualised, objectifies women, demeaning, it’s just appalling.
It *is* sexualised. The women are wearing the usual skimpy bikinis, and they sit and stand in sexually provocative poses. To watch the video and claim that it has no sexual content would be at best disingenuous.
And therein lies the problem.
When it comes to sexual expression, one of the key criteria is consent. If I don’t want to see the models in the swimwear edition of Sports Illustrated, then I can choose not to buy the magazine. I don’t have to participate in the objectification of women, nor in the sexual content of the magazine.
But no such choice is available to me if I have bought a flight on Air New Zealand, because I am trying to get from one place to another in the most efficient way possible. I am trapped on board the plane, wearing a seatbelt, and I can’t move anywhere else, while Air New Zealand staff urge me to watch the video. They are forcing sexual content on me without my consent.
On top of that, the Cook Islands people in the video are not exactly front and centre. They’re off to the side, a back drop for the models. Does Air New Zealand think that people from the Cook Islands are just not beautiful enough to feature in the video?
Air New Zealand, please don’t force me to watch this video on your flights. All I want to do is get from one place to another. I don’t want to have to watch sexual material, least of all sexual material that uses people from a minority ethnic group as props. I do not consent.