Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Neil French and the two eras

Neil French, a hero of the British advertisement industry of the 1970s, is a Gentleman from the old golden era. It was an era when a single man - and, indeed, it was usually a man - was able to change the world. An era when the same single man could take a responsibility for his acts. An era of colorful Gentlemen who actually had some beliefs, goals, and idiosyncracies. Gentlemen who were ready to sacrifice something because of their dreams.

As you know, we live in a completely different era these days - and let us hope that it is temporary. We live an in era of political correctness. An era controlled by committees and average people without any special features. An era where everything that differs from the average must be eliminated because it inevitably offends someone. And if something offends someone, it must be bad, many people believe. An era when people don't have any real beliefs or big goals. An era in which the responsibilities are shared. An era of breathtaking hypocricy.

You can imagine what happens if these two eras interact with each other. ;-) In October, Neil French was asked in public why there were so little high-ranking women in his field of advertising. He apparently supposed that it was an actual question, so he gave them an actual answer that reflected several decades of his extensive experience from his field of expertise:
• "Women don't make it to the top because they don't deserve to. They're crap. Women inevitably wimp out and go suckle something."
As you can see, this is not quite the language we typically use in Academia during conferences. :-) Nancy was "partially paralyzed"; in this particular case, it was Nancy Vonk. Neil French was trying to save the situation, so he accused Miss Vonk of
• "getting her knickers in a twist."
As you can guess, he had to resign. To make things clear, I am in no way supporting French's particular language or ideas. But on the other hand, I can figure out that this had to be the man who has created so many catchy slogans. His creativity is too much of a good thing for the current era, so this Gentleman had to be sacrificed. Note that there has been no visible revolution that has started this era. No laws have been codified that would make it illegal for Neil French to explain how the people from different groups interact with his industry. Nevertheless, such pronouncement have gradually become "effectively illegal". And that's another bad feature of the present: the written law is becoming secondary because we are under ever increasing pressure of various "additional unofficial laws" that are not really written anywhere but that are, nevertheless, imposed by a certain powerful clique.

1 comment:

1. Thought that was a pretty interesting take on it Lubos. Neil was my Creative Director for a few years back in the late 80's and is a titanic talent. He doesn't pretend to be politically correct - which is the real crime in my books. Not being correct, but pretending to be. So I admire the fact that he was honest and unrepentent.

However, as a parent myself, I think Neil missed the point. A committed parent doesn't have to have tits. A man can be as equally unwilling to commit fully to a career as a woman for the sake of his kids. So - sexist Neil. Sexist. But thanks as always for being an awesome CD.