Wicked Campers; a test case.
April 3, 2016
It is coming up on two years this July since Wicked Campers – and consequently its deeply disappointing owner, John Webb – entered my family sphere directly; through my then 11 year old daughter; with one of their worst van slogans.
If you believe this is a small issue, I emphatically disagree. As human beings, we should be looking at the patterns occurring within our current existence; to then evaluate for best forward action. This is my understanding of critical thinking.
In an ever more toxic climate, where politicians keep coughing up terms like, Domestic Violence or Alcohol Related Violence, speaking of the social emergency surrounding these issues; and expressing apparent heartfelt pleas of Creating Change – what better test case is there today to show that no change is happening at all, than Wicked Campers.
But words are unequivocally Not. Enough.
Change from our leaders must come through their ACTION and this has not been the case with a simple business like Wicked, which not only degrades women and girls but promote drug and alcohol use – sometimes using children’s cartoon characters to communicate that – whilst also passive aggressively pushing their gutter sexual perspectives publicly.
In short, John Webb – is a bully.
We are always speaking about bullies in schools and how to deal with them – funny how this bully seems to be pushing his toxic perspectives around without so much as a fine. Not even that.
Basically the rundown of this Wicked ‘journey’ has been like this:
- My daughter saw ‘the slogan’ in July 2014 + I did the petition; it all went global and fast.
- Wicked called ‘uncle’ three days after the petition started (got 127000+ signatures in 4 days), covered the offending slogan and said they’d cover any other ‘insensitive ones’ (their words) over the following 6 months.
- On the fourth day, Greens Senator Larissa Waters took the issue to The Senate, where they were unanimously condemned. Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson said it was free speech. Yet NO OTHER PLATFORM is lawfully allowed that free speech – not on a billboard, not in an ad – so why is John Webb afforded this luxury?
The thing is – they did not respray any other vans besides the one my daughter saw. They are a company – particularly its owner John Webb – with no integrity, not only was a promise broken, the slogans have worsened in some cases.
- When the six months were up – mid Jan 2015 – I released the post, Literally Wicked. Campers still offend., which is still being updated by me (even today), as the public continue to send through images from our Australian roads. Please note the promise that John Webb made at the start of the post.
- Unfortunately, seeing as it was considered ‘old news’, the media outlets that hounded me six months earlier were disinterested to pursue the fact that John Webb lied and has consequently continued to cash in on the indifference of our culture. This has meant that it’s only been recently that some people – including reporters – have been enlightened to the fact that Wicked did not follow through on their promise and essentially put the whole issue back to square one.
I have been a high school teacher for 20 years and started a business providing media literacy workshops using critical thinking, with high school students. One of the main points I stress is how our brains are forced to continually ‘take pictures’, through the bombardment of both images and words.
I also show them that the way women and girls – females – are represented, is nothing short of useless – mainly objectified. What are we good for in our representation?
When women and girls are not represented to be more than visual and sexual objects to be assessed and used, it’s little surprise that a culture of males show contempt and disrespect toward females; that emergency climate we keep talking about.
The Federal Government is currently showing the following ad about Violence against Women, which talks of ‘Respect’ and the fact that we have to ‘Stop it at the Start’.
Following is a list of van slogans that have been on the streets of Australia (a few from NZ) since Wicked Campers reneged on their promise. Please think of the word ‘Respect’ for women and girls as you read these:
Don’t die a virgin, terrorists are up there waiting for you
She can’t wrestle, but you should see her box
Legs are a girl’s best friend, but even the best of friends must part
Save water…take a shower with your neighbour’s daughter
Bukkake ruined my carpet
A blowjob a day keeps the breakup away
I ate so much pussy in those days, my beard looked like a glazed donut
Virginity is curable / She wants my brick (Hypersexualised LEGO figures)
Pussy; taste the difference (Pepsi Logo)
Fat chicks are harder to kidnap
I’ve often wanted to drown my troubles, but I can’t get my wife to go swimming (NZ)
Life sucks if your girlfriend doesn’t
My cock just died, can I bury it in your backyard?
Blow in her face and she’ll follow you anywhere
Your thighs won’t touch if my head’s between them (bare breasted woman on the side)
OMG my pussy needs recovery but I still want more
Boobs prove men can concentrate on two things at once
To all virgins, thanks for nothing
If a dog sniffs you’re (sic) arse, then you’re probably a bitch
Everyone feels the cold except Polar Bears and Hookers
It makes my heart race when you sit on my face
What do you put in your mouth but don’t swallow
Honk if you want to be dipped in chocolate and thrown to the lesbians
A blowjob a day beats an apple
We only break for pussy
Women fake orgasms because they think men care
OMG Barbie’s a slut
Hurricanes are like women – when they come they’re wet and wild; when they leave they take your house and car
A blowjob is a great last minute gift
I used to be a veterinarian and drive like an animal, now I’m a gynaecologist…
A man would be interested in a woman’s mind, if it bounced gently as she walked (NZ)
And there are many more. Many more.
These have no place in the public sphere. They titillate and feed an already hyper sexualised world and contributes to the desensitising and normalisation that this – as human beings – is all we’re about. I beg to differ.
So where are we now?
Since Wicked Campers reneged on their promise there has been a lot of action and today there is quite a bit of momentum.
- A feminist activist group of Brisbane women called Wicked Pickets formed in July 2014, inspired by my petition. They have written to every QLD MP, including all Cabinet Ministers, asking them to act against the blatant misogyny of the WC slogans and have held numerous rallies against Wicked Campers in Brisbane – Wicked Campers HQ city. In July 2015, I flew up to Brisbane to speak at one of these rallies, where we marched and presented signatures to QLD Senator Claire Moore, a supporter of the cause, asking the Government to provide protections to vilification against women and girls in the same way they provide it to other groups based on race, religion, sexuality and gender identity. They have spoken at community and union events, and met with the QLD Anti Discrimination Commissioner. QLD Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Federal Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash have also received correspondence and signatures from Wicked Pickets. They have been very active.
- Parent Christine King, who found herself and her children, confronted with an offensive van in late 2014, started her own campaign; tirelessly writing to Attorney-Generals, MPs, Police Commissioners, Camping Organisations, Mayors looking at bylaws to see Wicked Campers held accountable. She has secured a meeting with the QLD Attorney-General, Yvette D’Ath this week (April 7) and needs signatures on her petition to Ms D’Ath, to back up her amazing submission. Her petition is much more important than mine was because mine was addressed to a liar, but hers is aimed at people who can make legislative change.
Please sign this important petition here.
- 2015 – I wrote to the companies that I saw had their logo used by Wicked; The Wiggles (who are represented as stoned), Pepsi, LEGO and Mattel. They all said they passed it onto their legal teams but weren’t sure if anything could be done. Just recently, however, an NZ Federal MP seems to have flagged their attention. Fingers crossed.
- In mid-2015, I had a meeting with the Federal Shadow Communications Minister, Jason Clare, who then arranged to meet with the Advertising Standards Bureau head, Fiona Jolly, to discuss possibilities of giving the ASB the power in fine businesses, like Wicked Campers, who have been found in breech of Community Standards, but do not take the offending slogans or images down. Ultimately, however, Jason could only forward recommendations and I appreciate the fact he investigated the options.
- Also in mid-2015, a concerned citizen, Verina Green, presented a question to Malcolm Turnbull (when Communications Minister) on Our Say, where she also highlighted the fact that the Advertising Standards Bureau was a relative ‘toothless tiger’ when it came to enforcing those who breech standards. He promised to take a look at it. He then became PM.
- A great success occurred when in April 2015, Coralie Alison of Collective Shout, wrote a simple tweet to Lonely Planet, asking them why they promote Wicked Campers. I backed her up and sent them the link (above) with the evidence of the vans that were still on our roads – and Lonely Planet DROPPED THEM from both their Australian and New Zealand publications. All from such a simple but effective action from Coralie.
- In March this year, New Zealand have taken some great action! Wicked Campers have been dumped from the Department of Conservation’s tourist information listing for those wanting to hire camper vans. Ministers – led by associate tourism minister Paula Bennett – are searching for ways to pressure the company into dropping the slogans.
- Not just one but TWO New Zealand campsites have banned Wicked Camper vans from their sites regardless of slogan. Wicked have had more than enough time to rectify this situation. I only wish Australian campsites would follow their lead.
** Addition 7 April 2016: A very exciting development; Queenstown NZ council are going to start issuing fines. Article: ‘Council regulatory boss Lee Webster says: “We disagree so when we have evidence of a sign-written camper that we believe is sexually explicit, lewd or otherwise offensive, we will issue a $300 infringement.’
- I wrote to the NSW Premier Mike Baird and received an automated response, saying it was a Federal issue – even though not outlined how – a quickly passed the hot potato.
- Last week I wrote to the Australian Censorship Board asking whether we could follow New Zealand’s lead; whose Chief Censor is investigating whether the Wicked Camper slogans can be classified as ‘publications’. I am still awaiting their response, although the form stipulated it may take time.
- **Addition: 13 April – Here is the ACB’s response:
- **Addition: 5 April – I wrote to the new(ish) Federal Communications Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield, asking for assistance with this issue.
- **Addition: 9 May – here is part of the letter from the Minister’s office. Please note the circular argument we always receive; ‘Please complain to the ASB as they are in charge of this, but have no power to have the slogans removed. if lots of people do what Wicked do, then we’ll consider taking action.’
The frustration I’m feeling is palpable.
The letter finished there – so, in a nutshell, Wicked Campers are unique and therefore not worth the effort of changing legislation to have their worst slogans removed, let alone having John Webb pay any sort of fine, according to the office of our Federal Minister of Communications.
Which brings us to today.
We’re back in Australia – Byron Bay; a Wicked Campervan hot spot – and a few days ago, on the 1 April, grandfather Paul McCarthy saw the slogan; A blowjob a day beats an apple. He snapped and sprayed over the word ‘blow’.
It is VERY important to note that John Webb – in his original apology to me and media release, clearly stated that people could feel free to spray over or cover any slogans they found offensive. One was very imaginative:
Most, however, simply covered over with spray or tape.
In early 2015 – John Webb decided to change his mind and this is how he did it:
This is the calibre of John Webb. No integrity and a bully.
I’ve spoken with Paul and he is as livid as I am about the situation with Wicked Campers; even mirroring a sentiment I made in the original petition – Enough is Enough!
Paul’s in the ring now too. It will be interesting to see if Paul McCarthy gets charged by Police but regardless, Paul has all our full support.
(Update: Police have dropped charges against Paul)
Freedom of Speech is not what this is about; no-one has that freedom in print. No-one.
We are living in an ever hyper sexualised climate where are our youth (especially) are being wallpapered in very limited visuals of sex and this business contributes to this though its public forum.
If we have leaders who are touting commitment to changing our current sexist climate and the violence that comes from it,
Question #230: Why not *start* with Wicked Campers taking down those offensive slogans?
The Government says that a start has to be made; so if not them – who?
PS I now solely run the Facebook page Boycott Wicked Campers. It has become an HQ of sorts where all information relating to getting this issue resolved is shared.
Wicked Pickets also have a Facebook page. Follow for updates.
PLEASE help by writing to anyone you feel may be able to help – use the inspiration above.
** Please don’t forget to sign this important petition here.