Keeping Mum

Dita De Boni looks at the trials and tribulations of being a parent.

Dita De Boni: Won't somebody think of the children?

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Modern thoughts about child-rearing are that today's parents put too much emphasis on pleasing and cosseting their children. With our namby-pamby attitudes and cotton-woolling of a whole generation, we've caused everything from mass self-indulgence to the London riots, they say.

Well, I would say nothing proves this point more than that fact we have parents bleating on about the aborted Telecom / BackingBlack 'Abstain for the Game' campaign that's been thoroughly red-carded over the last week.

Brief disclaimer: I have just finished working, in an indirect fashion, for Telecom, editing the company's staff magazine for an independent publishing firm. I think Telecom performs poorly at times, and well at others, much like many large companies. For the record, and despite some excellent examples to the contrary, I have often thought much of Telecom's advertising misses the mark.

Having said that, I fail to see why suggesting, in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, that fans abstain from sex for the course of the tournament, is akin to teach kids how to cook up P in their kitchens, which is almost the level of sheer hysteria the outcry to the proposed campaign caused.

You may like the ad, you may not. You may think Sean Fitzpatrick's delivery is booming and odd, and certainly his aptitude for comedy is called into question.

You may wonder if there's anything he won't do for money - but really, there are plenty of rugby players who have done much worse for money, ie., circa 1986, when many proudly donned the All Blacks shirt to play rugby in apartheid South Africa.

But even if you didn't like it and thought Telecom / Saatchi had missed the mark, why on earth would your main issue with the ad be that you didn't want your children to know anything about abstinence?

The comments of 'All Blacks great' Craig Dowd are particularly comical in this light. He doesn't want his 11-year-old and 14-year old asking what abstinence is all about. Er, why not?

Half of all Americans are begging for their children to be taught abstinence in schools, and here are New Zealand parents acting like the very term will cause their kids' heads to rot off.

His objection also comes from the fact someone has dared to link sex and the All Blacks in the minds of our innocent loin-fruit. I guess the endless parade of pictures of Dan Carter in his underwear hasn't done that.

Or Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams getting their kit off for everything from deodorant to Pepsi.

Or the incredibly tight jerseys.

Or the stories, that aren't exactly hard to uncover or overly surprising, of various All Blacks shagging their way through legions of female fans.

For goodness sake, all corporate sponsors of the All Blacks ride off the back of the "sex appeal" of this particular team, so to suddenly turn feral about the overt use of sex in advertising is ludicrous.

Instead of worrying about what kids will think of an ad that was never intended for them anyhow, if their unsullied ears chance upon this most incendiary of words ('abstinence') they might learn a thing or two about how abstinence has traditionally been a method by which some sportsmen, soldiers and fighters have stored up their 'male energy' to prepare for battle.

They could even take the opportunity to be acquainted with the ancient tale Lysistrata, the story of one ancient Greek woman's efforts to get a town's menfolk to stop fighting the interminable Peloponnesian War by getting their wives to band together and stop having sex with them.

Of course, even if every single New Zealander of shagging-age stopped his or her bedroom high jinks for six years, let alone six weeks, it wouldn't make a jot of difference to the All Blacks' performance.

If the ABs themselves did it, that might be a different story, but of course no-one's going to deny the Pope his Catholicism.

The campaign to abstain is gone, and not mourned.

Well, we had to think of the children, didn't we?

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