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Rude road gets rocky for naughty campervans

February 14, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Wicked Campers, the Australian campervan company that decks its vehicles with lewd, sexist and misogynistic slogans, enlivened with a few drug references, is finding the road increasingly rocky on both sides of the Tasman, with an Australian political party objecting to a masturbation slogan on the provocatively painted vans.

The slogan proved too much for the South Australian Labor Party, which says it’s high time laws were passed to crack down on offensively decorated vehicles.

An Opposition bill before SA Parliament, targeting companies like Wicked Campers, would allow authorities to deregister vehicles if a company failed to act on rulings by the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB).

The ASB ruled last month that a Wicked Campers van registered in South Australia had breached the advertising industry’s code of ethics, ABC News reported – yet nothing has been done to remove the vehicle from the road. The company generally ignores such rulings, unless they have “teeth” in the form of penalties.

The van in question carried the text “Masturbation is the only thing that isn’t taxed, regulated or illegal. That’s your freedom; you’re free to go f*** yourself.”

Complainants told the ASB they were offended by the content and language. The ABC quoted two extracts from complaints:

Classic image from Wicked Campers website

“It has overt sexual references that would be difficult to explain to children,” one complaint said.

“Wildly inappropriate in a public setting … I still can’t believe I saw it really.”

The van was found to have breached the industry’s code of ethics section about avoiding “strong or obscene language”.

Katrine Hildyard, Labor’s spokesperson for the status of women, said “the slogans on the Wicked campervans promote and traverse violence against women, sexism, racism, paedophilia, and they are utterly unacceptable.”

Labor’s bill mirrors laws already in place in Queensland, Tasmania and the ACT.

This Wicked van photographed in New Zealand drew complaints

SA Transport Minister Stephan Knoll has previously argued the law would only work with a nationally coordinated approach, as Wicked could simply re-register its vehicles in another state not covered by the rules. But times are changing and those states are getting scarcer.

Three years ago, Wicked Campers ran into heavy opposition in New Zealand, with some of its most offensive vehicles banned from New Zealand’s roads under threat of huge fines, following a landmark ruling.

Photos of vehicles shown in New Zealand media included one van with a picture of Snow White smoking crack, and others bearing sexual references, including a van adorned with a cartoon of a donkey and a rooster and the slogan “This cock loves ass.”

New Zealand’s Classification Office, the body that has clashed with Wicked Campers across the Tasman, is not to be ignored. Breaching its rulings can bring heavy fines or jail terms.

Another Wicked Campers vehicle 

In one of its few responses to the ASB in Australia, Wicked said a few years ago: “In a pluralist society like ours, everyone is free to express their own views – some of which not everyone agrees with. We believe all our artwork and philosophical messages are not contrary to prevailing community standards …”

Complaints about Wicked Camper slogans surface regularly before Australia’s ASB. Two of the complaints concerned pedophilia and oral sex, namely: “70% of Preists [sic] who’ve tried camels prefer young boys…” and “a blow job is a great last-minute gift”. Both drew public complaints to the ASB, which the ASB upheld. A complaint about a third slogan, “It makes my heart race when you sit on my face”, was dismissed.

Written by Peter Needham

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