Supermarket chain Asda [and Tesco] has apologised and withdrawn a Halloween outfit it was selling online as a "mental patient fancy dress costume", after criticism.
My last blog asked the question 'What Offends You?'. I have had a few emails in reply although I had hoped for more and am still hoping....
However I hadn't even got out of bed this morning when an item on the radio news had me so offended that I almost jumped out and down the stairs [which with 'my back' could have been a mistake] in my rush to get to the keyboard and ask Asda via social media and this blog for an explanation.
Fortunately by the time my trusty machine had fired up I had calmed down a little and the radio was also letting me know that other people were also seriously offended. Surfing news sites and twitter showed that plenty of others are upset. And sadly, that Tesco had been selling a similar outfit which they too have also withdrawn.
I replied to a friend on facebook who had beaten me to it with his complaint:
I found this absolutely disgusting and don't think an apology is enough - a substantial contribution to a mental health charity would be a start. However to think that a big company would think this is acceptable behavior is seriously worrying and indicitive of areas of our uncaring society.For a statement on this from MIND, the mental health charity, please click on this link.
Breaking news: Asda have just announced that they will be making a donation to Mind. However, although I am very pleased about this, the damage has already been done and like many others I am sure, I will be complaining to both Asda & Tesco head offices. Please join me if you agree.
BTW I love Halloween and fancy dress. My worst outfit was a bra tied round my head with images of ghosts stuck to it - 'GHOSTBUSTERS'. I have promised not to do that again - but it wasn't as bad taste as the Asda and Tesco outfits, surely?
I have had depression in the past that affected me completely and radically and fundamentally. It is an issue that affects millions of people, and yet it is little understood and much misunderstood and maligned.ReplyDelete
I actually think they were stupid, but not malicious. They were trying to be funny and cheeky but it backfired. Imagine if they had made a Halloween costume of Palestinian suicide bomber??!! I wonder then what would have been said; and I am being serious here. Who decides in the end what can be laughed at and not taken seriously, and what can't be laughed at and must be taken seriously. Answer that question and you begin to comprehend the nature of the world we live in and the double standards that surround so many issues.
Thank you for your thought provoking reply, T-Child. I agree with you that the companies who sold these costumes [and I have heard of more since the blog was published] were not setting out to be malicious but in their greed for profits displayed stupidity. And in a way that is more worrying.Delete
How could whoever sourced these costumes for their companies have not realised that the items would offend very many people - and not just those with mental health problems, but their families and friends for a start? Granted that the buyers may not have seen the full size outfit and just ticked a box [virtual or hard copy] against a thumbnail icon or said yes to a salesperson, but the names of the costumes alone were surely a good guide to the bad taste of the items?
Mind, the mental health charity, have handled the furore in a very positive way and actually, imo, turned it into a good awareness issue for them. And it is definitely cheering that so many have complained to the companies selling the costumes, blogged, tweeted, facebooked, written to the press and 'phoned radio stations to express disgust. But the fact still remains that somewhere individuals thought it a good idea to make and market these rags.
Your last comment:
"Who decides in the end what can be laughed at and not taken seriously, and what can't be laughed at and must be taken seriously."
is key. Maybe twenty years we could have said 'common sense'. It seems that now we have been 'educated' not to trust our own instincts but look for a 'rule'. So maybe more discussions like these should be held in school childrens' PSE classes, and by bloggers like you and me! And perhaps as a society we should look at the apparent glorification on many fronts of 'perfection' and realise that real life is not always like the advertising posters however much we would wish it to be.
UPDATE: After complaining to Tesco and Asda about their sales of 'bad taste' Halloween costumes I have received apologies from both. Asda wins with a truly apologetic email including: "I can appreciate your concerns and this was an unacceptable error on our part." Whilst Tesco's apology was not quite so sincere - "We can confirm we have removed the product from sale", their sign off was interesting: "Have a lovely Day" !ReplyDelete
Here are the emails:
"Thank you for your email in regards to our fancy dress costumes.
We're really sorry for any offence this has caused and can confirm we have removed this from product from sale.
Customer feedback is very important to us and therefore, we have taken the necessary steps to prevent further upset or annoyance.
Thank you again for your comments.
Have a lovely day.
Thank you for your email about the men’s Halloween costume you’ve seen in the media.
I’m sorry for any offense or upset this has caused you. I can appreciate your concerns and this was an unacceptable error on our part. We have made sure this product has been immediately withdrawn from our stores and online.
I would like to assure you we take our responsibilities as a retailer very seriously. Following this, we will be making a sizable donation to the charity MIND with our sincerest apologies.
Thanks again for getting in touch. I trust the actions we’ve taken go some way to restoring your faith in us. If I can assist you any further with this, please call me or one of my colleagues on 0800 952 0101.
Hi Elizannie, this may sound strange, but sometimes when things like this happen, they actually open debate and make people think, even when that was not the intended issue at all. Like most reasonable people, I don't like racism, sexism, homophobia, class prejudices or indeed any thing where one human is somehow devalued when compared to another, which all prejudices in the end boil down to. I am from a very traditional Working class background and have struggled in all kinds of ways, especially with the aforementioned depression and stress. What I don't totally accept is the notion that political correctness somehow means we are all suddenly equal; in fact I believe now that PC has become another tool to close debate of many issues, rather than opening debate which is what all issues need. The Immigration debate is particularly one such issue. Anyone who made any criticism at all was immediately labelled a racist, and this closed debate but allowed things to fester. In other words, when people here complained they were losing their jobs because they were/are being undercut by workers who will work for less, they are damned as racists. But wouldn't you or anybody else feel aggrieved if you lost your job in such a way, and then were called names afterwards? I know I would. The issue then is not racism, but economics. The usual people who bleat the loudest about people's rights are often Middle class people, and yet it is easy to be magnanimous about any issue when it doesn't affect your livelihood. I wonder if the government started bringing in professionals from other countries who would work for 25% less, and Middle class people started losing their jobs, livelihoods, houses and so on would they be so understanding then? I hope you understand what I mean. I write about things like this because I feel that the debate is usually controlled by people who have an agenda, and it really has anything to do with the rights of ordinary people. Here's a link or two on posts you might want to look at: http://tchildschristianityblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/charity-begins-at-home.htmlReplyDelete
You don't have to put these links, but they make a point I think needs to be made. Please feel free to discard it all if I've waffled on! Feel free also to leave links on my blog. I already have your blog in my blogroll.
Thanks, I am happy to have your links on my page and will be adding your blog link to my blog roll shortly [I need to summon up courage when I attack my settings, which is long overdue...]Delete
Back to the Tesco/Asda Halloween costumes stupidity, I am glad in away that it has proved that so many people have cared enough to complain to the companies and as you say, it has opened up a debate which would not have otherwise happened. Although I would have preferred the debate without the initial upset that caused it!
Possibly the only issue with which I would totally disagree is your usage of the words 'class war'. As a pacifist I prefer the term 'class struggle' but that is just me being really pedantic!!!!!! As far as I am concerned the class struggle has never gone away, the right wing only let their underlings think it had when everything was going well - as soon as it looked as if there was even a slight chance that the rich could be 50p a year worse off they bared their teeth and dived back into the struggle!
Elizannie, you're right, it would have been better to open up the debate without the stupidity but sometimes that unfortunately has to happen; such is life.ReplyDelete
Class war, class struggle, I don't mind either. I'm educated like you, but Working class all the same; sometimes you're not sure of who you belong to anymore, so I just maintain as a Christian that instead of being against Middle class people or rich people, which is equally unfair as attacking Working class people, I take the politics and ideology out as much as is possible and look at cold hard facts. At the moment, I see an ideological attack on poor people and somehow the people at the bottom end of the economic pile have been blamed for the mess the people at the top end made. It's got nasty again basically.