Last Thursday the B&T team had the enormous privilege to attend the M&C Saatchi 21st birthday party. Despite some media bleating to the contrary, B&T’s editor John Bastick says it was one of the best industry events ever and an admirable tribute to the work of arguably one of Australia’s best agencies…
I’m starting to think maybe I’m too old to be attending 21st birthday parties but, that said, was lucky enough to find myself on the the guest list to last Thursday’s now (in)famous M&C Saatchi 21st birthday party at Sydney’s Beresford Hotel.
If you weren’t in attendance and had read media reports of the event over the weekend you could be forgiven for thinking the entire party was one long Bacchanalian orgy complete with goat sacrifice, as we drank the blood of virgins and danced in our underpants before pledging our allegiance to the Dark Lord Lucifer himself.
The fact was it wasn’t any of those things. The truth of the matter was it was a sophisticated affair attended by smart, intelligent, professional industry people and M&C Saatchi clients.
True, the evening’s entertainment did include Burlesque routines (there had been media reports of strippers but I didn’t see any). Yes, it did include scantily clad male and females doing dance routines. Yes, there was also a drag artiste and a wonderful DJ who played The Clash’s Rock The Kasbah and Soft Cell’s Tainted Love. I’m led to believe all were professional entertainers.
However, to suggest risqué Burlesque routines (and I use “risqué” even at a stretch here) somehow highlights wanton sexual discrimination and misogyny in the media and advertising industry is a long bow for mine.
Sure, I don’t speak for the 600-plus guests in attendance and, yes, maybe some people were indeed offended by the raunchy stylings of some of the acts.
Sadly, an infinitesimally small minority has attempted to tie the evening’s entertainment to apparent wholesale blokey culture in the media and advertising industries. Cue inevitable social media shitstorm (primarily from non-invitees), the thing makes the mainstream press and the poor old party host, M&C Saatchi, is forced to issue an apology on Saturday afternoon to anyone who may have been offended by the evening’s proceedings despite not actually being invited in the first place.
But far from apologise the M&C Saatchi crew should be thanked for throwing one of the best industry shindigs in ages!
Maybe it’s just me, but no I don’t draw the link between two shirtless male dancers gyrating their moves in front of me and “the emasculating castration of the male puritanical hegemony”. I just see two blokes dancing with their shirts off.
The rage apparently began when a particularly sanctimonious industry website posted its disgust at the event the following morning. Apparently the editorial staff were so horrified by the godless, heathen acts unfolding before their very eyes they all-signed on to a long-winded article the next day universally condemning it. The opinion piece – which attracted reader comments – then allowed anyone in the industry with a gripe against M&C Saatchi or with claims of misogynistic treatment (legitimate or otherwise) to rage away.
But the question remains – if the journalist staff of this media site were so outraged at the offences that were apparently unfolding before their very eyes, if this wild hedonistic affair was such a total affront to their feminist ethos why did I see a number of them still imbibing the free booze at the party at 11.30pm? If you’re offended then leave. It’s not like the doors were locked shut.
That would lead me to two conclusions: it’s a simple case of disingenuous faux outrage designed to shit stir and get more hits to your website. Or it’s pretty damn contemptuous of your host’s rather generous hospitality to then publicly hang shit on them the following morning.
Again, when the entertainment started I hardly saw large throngs of enraged punters running for the exits universally chanting passages from The Female Eunuch. Far from it. It was tasteful and fun and I’d argue you’d see more “flesh” on show at any beach, nightclub or music festival these days.
If you were enraged by that then, no, it doesn’t show you to be some pioneering modern-day suffragette. Rather it shows you to have a rather backward conservatism that most of us had hoped had been killed-off back in 1951.
I spent large parts of the evening with Emma from B&T and Rosie and Rachel from AdNews – all young, modern, intelligent, professional women. Never once did they register their displeasure at any of the performances.
And no, not for one moment am I suggesting that women don’t still cop a rough time in the workplace; particularly when it comes to parental and family issues (I know, I’ve got two small kids and know the challenges only too well). And that’s not just in the media and advertising industries but all industries. Sadly, however, lots of do-gooders like to rage about the issues but do very little to affect any worthy change.
Here’s another idea – let’s celebrate the high number of high achieving women in the industry and there are many to celebrate. And the argument doesn’t always need to be gender-specific. I’d argue that the bigger problem in Adland is more ethnic diversity, recruiting the top young talent and the tech-literate talent required of the jobs of the future regardless of which genitalia they happen to be in possession of.
Sadly, in this industry you fart in the wrong direction and you’re quickly rounded-on as misogynistic, homophobic, sexist and racist by the faceless expostulates. And we need to be careful of such baseless condemnation. What that does is dull everything down, have people walking on eggshells; it becomes a celebration of the dull, the vanilla and the mediocre. As the old saying goes “to make an omelet, yes, you do have to a crack a few eggs” and that certainly rings true of a creative industry like ours.
I know you’ve all read it before but the great Stephen Fry was bang on when he said: “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.”
I know (M&C Saatchi CEO) Jaimes Leggett personally and to him and all of his team I congratulate them on not only 21 years of magnificent work but a superb party last Thursday night befitting one of Australia’s best agencies. It’s a shame the entire thing was tarnished by the usual cowardly keyboard warriors. It’s them who should be doing the apologising.