The advert, promoting the Audi RS 4 Avant, featured a little girl wearing an animal print dress and a jacket; she was leaning on the car while eating a banana. Many people expressed outrage as they took offence at the implied meaning they interpreted the ad to give and Audi had to apologise for offending people’s sensibility. My initial reaction to people who took offence was that they were sick to think anything or take the interpretation of that image beyond a little girl eating a fruit which happens to be banana. I absolutely did not understand why anyone would see the ‘innocuous’ picture beyond what it plainly was in the literal sense.
I followed it up by putting up a post on my Facebook page expressing disgust on why Audi was forced to apologise for what I thought wasn’t deserving. I felt it was an assault on my right to simply see it for what it plainly was; a little girl eating a banana and a drive by twisted minds to force everyone to see things from their twisted perspective. Though I must admit I was a bit puzzled on how the child model is supposed to help sell the car with that advert.
Then the comments started rolling in traversing people who share my sentiments and those who did not. Also, there were people with entirely different perspective who plain think the outraged people are mostly racists who are angry a white girl is photographed eating a banana that they have associated with Black folks on the background of their derogatory belief; equating black people with monkeys. They felt the people in this category resorted to making it a sexual thing because they could not outright state their racist reason. However, one comment in favour of Audi apologising explained that in a society like the West where paedophilia is so rife, and sexualised photographs and videos of young children are shared all over the place by sick people, Audi’s ad whether deliberately or not, is sending a coded message to paedophiles. The comment also went further to point out the fact that some fruits have further interpretations aside from the obvious. Fruits like bananas, cucumbers, and nuts have further meanings that are far departure from the old innocent meanings as such brand like Audi should have done better and not allow anything that could be further interpreted in a skewed way into their ad copy.
If a Nigerian talks of tiger nuts, another Nigerian immediately understands or thinks it is a reference to an aphrodisiac, therefore if folks in Nigeria see the advert of a child being given a tiger nut drink with adults hovering, they should be worried as to the embedded message being passed. In short, every society knows their own language and the extra symbolism attached to objects that is away from their original meaning.
Even in this part of the world, we all know cucumber, banana, watermelon, orange etc., are no longer just what they are. It is a sick world where we have to read in between the lines and form the meaning looking at the context of usage.
For instance, you saying someone has gone nuts has absolutely nothing to do with groundnuts or cashew nuts. You are simply saying the person has gone crazy. So after reading the varying opinions on the subject, my stance shifted from what it was initially. Though I still think it is a sick world where a photograph of a child eating banana and cucumber cannot just be left at that. However, in the light of our new reality, I understand the angst of people who are genuinely outraged. We have an obligation to keep watch on our world that is fast sliding off dangerously. We have a duty to halt this dangerous trend and protect our children.
Those that shared my initial sentiment said they looked the picture over several times, turned it over, spun it around and could not see anything wrong with the picture. Someone out of pure exasperation asked if there was anything left on earth that has not been sexualised. The fellow further expressed worry at the innocence of language being destroyed by people’s personal insecurities, thereby making communication increasingly difficult. Some expressed distaste at the dangerous trend of a world sliding into a state where people define hate speech or inappropriateness by what they feel comfortable with and their own self centred narrative.