Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What's really offensive...

You know, I mentioned this point in RJ's blog, but it's pretty far down and it occurs to me that it's probably worth mentioning in a separate post here.

As most Newfoundlanders know, there's a small racket over an ad produced by Nissan over their X-Trail SUV which is now out in a "special" Bonavista Edition (i.e. It's virutally the same as the regular edition, but we'll call it special and add a new name). The salesmen in the ad is speaking with a thick pseudo-Newfoundland accent accompanied by sub-titles.

Now, for those of you not from Newfoundland, you probably don't see what the big deal is. However, Newfoundlanders are touchy about outsiders making fun of us. We can do it to ourselves. That's fine. We have a long, storied tradition of self-mockery. But outsiders? They're not allowed. That's racist.

The ad itself doesn't bother that me. I've seen and heard much worse and I think people are over-reacting. But the more I thought about it, the idea of a really nice name like Bonavista being given to a terrible gas-guzzling SUV is kind of offensive to me. What's the vehicle's mileage like? Well, according to it's website it gets about 26 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on highways.

Out of curiosity I went and saw what the mileage was like for a nice Hybrid such as the Prius. This site lists the Prius' mileage is 60 MPG in the city and 51 MPG on the highway. So on average nearly double that of the Bonavista.

I just don't like SUV's very much. I understand they have their uses, but they are so very rarely used that way. Normally it's people driving their kids to the mall in one of these things, not going to off-road construction sites carrying hundreds of pounds of equipment.

So wouldn't Bonavista be a much nicer name to have for a hybrid? I wouldn't even have a problem with some psuedo-Newfoundland salesman hocking it on television.


Terri Lynn said...

The ad didn't really bother me, I actually laughed at a few things. "Like me mudder always said, if you've got one line you can have two hooks!" This made me laugh because due to the recent rec. food fishery I actually knew what that phrase meant.

John Mutford said...

Good point about the problems with SUVs in general.

As for the salesman being a "pseudo-Newfoundland[er]", are you sure about that? I'm asking not in an accusational way, I'm just being curious. A lot of people seem to be jumping to that conclusion, but as of yet, I haven't heard anyone offer up who it actually is and where they are from.

Ed Hollett said...

One little point everyone seems to miss is that the entire exchange is subtitled.

When the customer says something at the end, there is a subtitle putting it into "Newfunese"

Is the salesman from Newfoundland? Most likely. That seems to be the point.

Leave it to Craig to make a sensible point about naming an SUV after a place in Newfoundland.

Maybe they should have called it the Nissan ACOA edition. The friggin thing is priced so that most people would need government assistance to buy it and keep the gas in it.

towniebastard said...

Ed, you've been coming over and saying the nicest things lately. I'm going to have to do something to provoke you at some point...;)

And it's a good point about the actor, John. I don't know if he's a Newfoundlander. Maybe he actually is. It might be worth it for someone to look into it. Someone with more time than I have...

Rj said...

According to the CBC NL's Here & Now, the actor is from Cape Breton.

Anonymous said...

The problem that I have with the Nissan commercial is that Nissan bastardizes a language and stereotypes a unique culture at the expense of Newfoundlanders. Another part of the equation is Nissan does not even provide the service for their products province wide (only poor service in St. John's). They have one dealership in St. John's O'Neil Motors and they run that operation providing substandard service implying to Nissan owners "you listen to us! You have no choice because you have nowhere else to get service for your product." Service anywhere in Nova Scotia is on a scale of 1-10 is a 10 where the customers leave the dealership content that a maximum effort was placed on their service. The rude and ignorant service department in St. John's avoids at all costs WORK and especially province wide service. It’s not Nissan Canada but Nissan 9 Provinces. Even the territories receive optimal service comparing to Newfoundland. So if you’re not even a supporter of the province how can you ridicule and mock the culture and expect zero retort. Yes Ontario Nissan’s hired production company made a commercial to the expense of and once again ridiculing Newfoundlanders and that is defiantly wrong! Nissan in St. John’s Newfoundland (not the people of Newfoundland) are also wrong for retaliating with an immature “you make fun of us we’ll make fun of you,’ radio spot. And yes you may argue that it was all in good fun and the positives out way the negatives. Well a rapist would assume the same. It felt good and the positives outweighed the negatives. (Facetiously.) Must be right!