Opinion  |  

Should we be offended by the lamb ad?

What happens when Jesus, Buddha, Ganesha and Zeus hang out at a barbie

Another season, another Lamb ad deliberately intended to “hilariously” offend a section of the Australian community. This time, it’s gunning for all of us.

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Following flak for this year’s Australian Day ad which featured indigenous actors “welcoming” European settlers, the latest ad from the Meat and Livestock Association features a backyard BBQ – attended by figureheads from major religions (Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism) as well as Greek mythology, Scientology and the Jedi. The host is No Religion, “the fastest growing religion in Australian based on recently published Census data.”

As a Christian who loves eating lamb, I’m more puzzled than offended or outraged

Notably, the Islamic prophet Muhammad is absent but Jesus receives plenty of attention around a table with Hindu god Ganesha, Zeus and Aphrodite. “Jesus, Where’s your dad?” asks Zeus at the start of the ad. “He’s everywhere,” responds Jesus. Zeus looks concerned. “Just joking,” smiles Jesus. “He’s working.”

As a Christian who loves eating lamb, I’m more puzzled than offended or outraged by such jokes in an ad that aims for soft gibes rather than flat-out mockery.

As lamb is served, more wisecracks are also dished up, from the Old Testament prophet Moses’ quipping to Jesus that Christian music “is all about you”, to Ganesha not being amused by Buddha wanting to “address the elephant in the room.”

The real “elephant in the room” for all of us is how we should respond to an ad preaching that we can really unite around “the meat we all can eat.” Even though, as some Hindus have been quick to point out, they’re vegetarian. As is the god Ganesha.

I was left with the distinct impression that it lacked the courage of its convictions

The Meat and Livestock Association are right that the diversity of belief systems in Australian has not created unity. But plonking caricatures of religious figures around a table, as a satirical shot at how we should just get along, comes off as awkward and uncomfortable.

Aside from the clanger of Ganesha eating meat, the backyard gathering itself has the stilted delivery and atmosphere of a dress-up party where no-one knows each other. I was left with the distinct impression that it lacked the courage of its convictions (where the earlier Australia Day ad had really owned its concept).

So rather than be mortified at Jesus doing a “reverse miracle” by turning wine into water, I’m left scratching my head about a marketing department’s attempt to channel religious tolerance into cutlet sales.

Perhaps Christians should be most incensed or bemused that The Lamb of God (John 1:29) wasn’t made more of a selling point. That’s the Lamb really worth gathering around and uniting for.

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