According to the Grauniad:
‘Terrorist’ firework ads spark row
Dutch government firework safety ads featuring a spoof Islamist terrorist group have been criticised as insensitive and depicting a negative stereotype of the Muslim community.
The online ads, made for the Dutch government’s consumer safety institute, have been made to look like a video message filmed by an Islamist military organisation called the Liberation Army Against Freedom.
Featuring a group led by an Osama bin Laden lookalike figure at their camp, the viral ads are dubbed into Iraqi-accented Arabic and have versions with subtitles in Dutch and English.
The tone is intended to be humorous, with the terrorist group seen receiving a shipment of fireworks like an arms cache, wearing suicide vests made of firecrackers, and bungling efforts to “demonstrate to you our true power” by blowing themselves up.
Load up the Grauniad article and watch the video; it’s quite amusing. And if you visit the L.A.A.F. website — yes, they have their own website — you’ll find more videos there. How refreshing to think that the Dutch government actually funded these productions!
Unfortunately, not everyone is amused:
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However, the light treatment of such a serious issue has angered some industry insiders.
“What is the campaign hoping to achieve by depicting a negative stereotype of the Muslim community in a fireworks advert?” said Saad Saraf, the chief executive of multicultural marketing specialists Media Reach Advertising.
Notice the name of this “industry insider”, and notice the specialized nature of his company: “multicultural marketing.”
Hmm… who are the clients of Media Reach Advertising? Who funds their operations? Is there really enough of a demand for multicultural marketing experts to allow such a firm to stay afloat without government subsidy?
Saraf, an Iraqi, was particularly offended by images in one ad that show one person strap fireworks around him in a style similar to a suicide belt, which later explodes.
“Are the producers aware that the actors in the advert are speaking in an Iraqi accent; with the current state of affairs in Iraq and the loss of lives as a result of suicide bombing, I question, what were the creatives [sic] thinking?,” said Saraf.
My guess is that they were thinking, “Who can we get to do the Arabic for these videos?” Presumably there are a lot of Iraqi expatriates looking for work.
Or was it an evil conspiracy by the Dutch authorities to humiliate the world’s 1.5 quintillion Muslims?
“This is insensitive to society as a whole. Suicide bombings have destroyed many thousands of lives — using them in a humorous way is totally inappropriate. Are these adverts then for people who have not been affected by terrorism, suicide bombings and the invasion of Iraq in some way?”
For crying out loud — Muslim terrorists already make videos that look exactly like these, except that they’re no joke, and real people are murdered and mutilated in them!
And we’re supposed to object to a satire video because it makes those monsters look bad?
Give me a break.
Fortunately, not all Muslims in the West lack common sense:
However, Inayat Bunglawala, the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, did not think the ads were particularly offensive.
“I thought they were very humorous public safety films,” he responded by email after being sent several links to the ads.
“Obviously there will always be some who find it to be in bad taste, but I thought it was done light-heartedly and funny and with clear educational value.”
The whole campaign was apparently designed to be viral:
The ads were first seeded on YouTube with Dutch subtitles around two weeks ago. Since then, versions of the ads have appeared with English subtitles.
There are some interesting conclusions to be drawn about all this. First of all, the people who designed this ad campaign must have known it didn’t have a prayer of being aired through regular channels, so they designed it for viral marketing.
It was a shrewd move. Even though the PC vise is clamped tight on the testicles of the Western media, these videos would obviously become immensely popular, as is most anti-jihad humor. People all over the West love these politically incorrect samizdat jokes. What better way to get an important safety message out than to wrap it in such a naughty forbidden package?
And then there’s the fact that the Dutch government funded the operation. Could there be more to this than meets the eye?
Probably not, but still…
Some poor mid-level functionary in the Ministry for Public Health will no doubt be demoted to Deputy Paperclip-Counter after this little caper.
Hat tip: Paul.