Air NZ removes in-flight video

Air NZ removes in-flight video

A sequence where a gay flight attendant is rebuffed by an All Black is to be removed from Air New Zealand’s Crazy About Rugby in-flight safety video, following complaints of homophobia from the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community.

In the sequence in question, a female flight attendant poses for a cellphone photo with All Black Richard Kahui and the pair leans in for an air kiss.

Following this, a male flight attendant – who is explaining to travellers to turn off all electronic devices – taps his cheek requesting a kiss; Kahui raises his hands, grits his teeth and walks away shaking his head.

Dudley Benson

Musician Dudley Benson first saw Air New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup-themed safety video while on a national tour.

“I couldn’t quite believe that I’d seen what I had,” Benson told New Zealand’s The Express.

“It was clear that in the video a gay person was treated poorly and differently to another person, a straight person. They were also treated with disdain and repulsion by a major role model for young impressionable males.

“I decided to complain to Air New Zealand because I consider it to be a very irresponsible portrayal by Air New Zealand – many thousands of people see that video every day, including international passengers. It’s cringe-worthy and embarrassing.”

Benson and his partner both complained to Air New Zealand through their online feedback service, but when their complaints were still unanswered nine days later, Benson and his tour party took matters into their own hands.

“At that point my tour party and I decided to boo and vocally denounce the scene when it was played. We had 10 people booing at that point in the video, which caused flight attendants on several flights to approach us to find out what was wrong,” he said.

“From this dialogue with flight attendants it became very obvious that Air New Zealand staff were also unhappy with the video and were more than happy to give me CEO Rob Fyfe’s contact details to complain directly.”

Benson said Fyfe was “very defensive of the video and not eager to take on my voice as a representative of the minority being portrayed”.

Feeling his concerns were not being listened to, Benson wrote to The Express. Later that week, express was contacted by Air New Zealand to discuss GLBT community initiatives and a dialogue was started about the video. Just as this issue of express went to print, Air New Zealand released a statement saying the sequence would be removed from the video.

“The video has been a phenomenal hit from the perspective that it has really engaged customers in its core messages around safety,” Airline Safety and Operations general manager Captain David Morgan said.

“When we created this video and discussed the scene featuring a gay male flight attendant and a rugby player with key stakeholders, including a number of the gay community, we received none of the feedback we have in the past week. The scene was not something that we, the people we tested the scene with, or indeed the participants in the scene, viewed as distasteful or likely to cause concern.

“We could have set out to run research on whether the views of the complainants in the past week were representative of the wider gay community. However, given the Crazy About Rugby safety video only has another seven weeks to run, we have opted on the side of caution and are changing out the scene.”

Reaction to the scene has shocked Air New Zealand flight attendant Will Coxhead, who was the flight attendant in the scene. He says he has been inundated with hundreds of compliments from people within the gay community and customers.

“I’m absolutely gutted that a couple of people in the gay community have ruined this for everyone else,” he said.

“I’m proud to be gay, proud to be an Air New Zealander and extremely proud of my role in the safety video. Obviously there are some people in the gay community that can be a little precious and need to lighten up. If anything this particular scene shows a bit of light hearted humour about the situation.

“If you take the complainants’ view of life, why not cry foul about gay people showing any sign of affection to anyone who’s straight. Come on, it was a bit of fun and was only meant as such.”

But Benson stuck by his complaint.

“I don’t believe Will has been given the full gravity of the situation. It’s obvious that he’s been led to believe this is just gay stick-in-the-muds up in arms about something, whereas what has happened is in fact a ground swell of opinion from a broad range of New Zealanders and it comes from a place of serious concern.

“I think we need to move past making gay people into a joke – it’s quite 1950s and it’s not doing big businesses any favours. It might get them some cheap publicity but these sorts of jokes are outdated and an entirely unacceptable thing to do in 2010 Aotearoa.”

– Hannah Jennings-Voykovich
The Express

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15 responses to “Air NZ removes in-flight video”

  1. Sorry — but they seem to cover all sorts of stereotypes in this video and poke fun in a rather equal-opportunity manner — regardless of gender, age or sexual orientation. As one gay observer of this video, I think it’s fun and silly. I think it is entirely unfortunate that this video was singled out and removed for supposed gay-bashing. Let’s not take ourselves *too* seriously, folks. It doesn’t do the gay cause, or any other special interest group any good to be so overly sensitive and touchy. (It was likely written by one of our own anyway). It’s air travel, not a nuclear arms treaty.

  2. As a gay kiwi, I am not offeneded at all by the video. I thought it was well made, with great kiwi humour. Lighten up people for god’s sake, there’s better things to worry about in life. I think it was funny, it’s not homophobic in the least. I totally agree with the flight attendants comments

  3. It’s funny how Air NZ boss thought that kind of video is just a bit of banter and would offend no one… well let’s see: would he have dared replacing the gay crew with another minority, such somebody of a different race/costume to white? Of course not as in that case the video would have been labelled as extremely racist… it’s about time that people realize it’s so 90s to use gay guys as the butt of all jokes.

  4. I saw this vid on YouTube when launched and thought it was great – apart from the refused kiss from the rugby player. I’m not “precious” or in anyway up my own backside and it annoyed me. Better to show no attempt at a kiss than a refused one, or for the rugger to give the hostie a friendly hug.
    I regularly kiss / embrace my straight and gay male friends. They’re happy to hug or kiss me back, even those that play rugby (er, especially those that play rugby!).
    I love what AirNZ does with its vids – all very tongue in cheek and witty. But that one scene did disappoint me when I saw it, so good on these fellas for doing something about it.

  5. You have got to be joking!! – They were, obviously. A GREAT VIDEO. Of course every gay that says they want a kiss will get one if the other person is gay?? – that would be homophobia too if a gay person refused? Try protesting for something worthwhile – obviously nothing better to do. Also, if you every fly, the safety videos usually are subtitled, in case you do not have your headphones on, so you know what is being said. I am gay, and obviously there are appear to be some that need to get on with their life.

  6. now i read about there billboard and ” grandmas boobs , ” maybe they should have a good long look at their advertising agency , ??:(! too many long lunches i think ??? rodger , sydney

  7. The credits tell me the gay flight attendant is a Mr Coxhead…

    [glad for the subtitles, it was like listening to a person who sustained head injuries in a car accident]

  8. kia ora! wat d u hv 4 a brain? SPACE/VOID? derrr! so just how many hetros rape/wife bash/abandon children THEY decided to hv? Child Abuse and Teens Under the Act can get protection ok. Try telling that to aged gays who have ‘been-out for 30-50 yrs and get put onto a HETRO Nursing Home and r forced in2 the closseett..YET AGIAN? Suicide stats are available IF u want em kia ora!! ok?
    1 Young gays are presons ok human beings for starters.
    2 They deserve support & respect as we gays are born gay.Medical FACT
    3 Stop patronising gays as you hv here ok
    4 How ‘bashers’who and why? Do hetro’s get bashed because they kiss in public? I think not kia ora.

    2011 is on us so move forward ok. Get a life of purpose and go do some community service wrk so u get in tough with ”now-reality”
    Eva nursed 345 patiens on their death beds; some HIV as well?? Go try it out.

  9. > Rt Hon John Key
    > Prime Minister of New Zealand
    > Minister of Tourism
    > Re: Air NZ Ban on In-Flight Gay-Kiss
    > Dear Hon John Key
    > With great alarm and total disgust I saw a video of this aledged ‘kiss’
    > [that never took place as can be seen on NINE MSN Web site now] and it has
    > been taken down off the New Zealand’s Flag carrier international airline.
    > Why?
    > 1.. Is there any empirical evidence to support this act?
    > 2.. I suggest none exist as none have been made public, hence by logic on
    > what is this based?
    > 3.. Is this a New Zealand’s ‘knee-jerk’ reaction or what please Sir?
    > Sir with the greatest respect, what next is NZ about to ban? Mixed races in
    > ‘All-Blacks’ Teams; cease all inter-racial marrying; no respect for ANZAC
    > because some were black or white or non-British?
    > If you or your Cabinet view this web video please note:
    > 1.. the kiss never takes place and
    > 2.. if you have any insight into gay suicide rates it is clinically
    > because we gays are shunned and
    > 3.. pushed down and
    > 4.. bullied, bashed and
    > 5.. nothing is taught in the schools about sexuality I suggest
    > Minister of Tourism is your Portfolio, is it not? Hence I ask you:
    > a.. Is New Zealand a safe place to visit?
    > b.. Is it ‘anti-homosexual’ in New Zealand?
    > c.. Are Immigration Officers of New Zealand to ask this of all who entre
    > your country irrespective of gender or race or creed? i.e . ‘ are you gay or
    > bisexual ?’
    > d.. Give me two reasons as to why 380 of us ought to come there on an
    > organised holiday when on the save video it is to be seen as ‘breaking down
    > the barriers that once existed?’
    > Let me be frank Prime Minister:
    > ‘ Just what the fuck is going on in N Z right now on this matter please ?’
    > And I will not excuse the language I used.
    > Relatives of mine fought and died and are part of ANZAC ok! Don’t you dare
    > shame them ok. They were also gay Sir!
    > Please I do expect a prompt response and not just from some ill-educated
    > person ”’to whom this may get-flicked to”’. Thank you in advance.
    > Respectfully I thank you for your deliberations and deep reflections on the
    > international economic impact of Air NZ ‘in-flight Add. Let it happen and
    > you will suffer in NZ.
    > Gays have money; remember the ‘pink-dollar power’. Please do I suggest
    > Prime Minister.

  10. oh christ, fuking new zealanders with their white only immigration policy that finished in the 70’s, duh!! wot do xpect!? of course they dont know its inappropriate? u gota b kiddn me? that lil fairy hostie is like Mr humphries off “Are u being served.” ABSOLUTELY INAPPROPRIATE!

  11. The whole video is a tongue-in-cheek parody of the boring, staid regular in-flight safety video’s that most airlines inflict on us. I found it highly original, innovative and humourous. I wasn’t the least bit offended. Everyone has the right to turn down a physical advance from another person, irrespective of their sexuality. It’s called personal choice, not homophobia. Personally, I would have turned down both flight attendants and the rugby player, but that’s just my personal choice. There are far more important issues that need to be complained about than this. Mind you, it would have been funnier if the rugby player had turned down the kiss from the female flight attendant and then accepted the one from the male flight attendant. Maybe they could re-film it like that. I’m sure Ian Roberts would volunteer!
    Craig Boden
    Out gay male, Sydney

  12. kia ora from sydney , glad its been removed , glad the person in question persued it being removed , thanks alot , its not the fifties , the gay flight attendant in question needs a reality check ” mate ” what were you thinking , ? thousands of gay teens commit suicide every year as they cant come to terms with being gay because of homo phobia , when i think of air new zealand i think of a quality carrier , innovative , i expect more , and im sure most people in the 21 st century do , thanks and happy xmas to all, rodger hedley , expat kiwi in sydney

  13. I do tend to agree with the complaint… once the GLBTI community are 100% accepted into mainstream society then a video like this is more than acceptable… we all want the same thing.