Thursday, 20 May 2010

same old same old

Apparently the Nationwide Building Society claims that it is "proud to be different".

You'd never guess it from this tired old nonsense.

Just in case you're interested, here's the Advertising Standards Authority's 'how to make a complaint' page

and here is someone high up the heap at Nationwide:

Graham Beale, Chief Executive, Nationwide Building Society, Head Office, Nationwide House, Pipers Way, Swindon SN38 1NW.

(thanks, Jo)

edited to add...

My letter to Graham Beale

Dear Mr Beale,

I wish to register my dismay over the broadcasting of the new Nationwide television ads, featuring David Walliams and Matt Lucas, and particularly their portrayal of ‘Emily’ and ‘Florence’, presumably transvestites, attempting to open an account for ‘ladies’ at a branch of Nationwide.

I am a woman with a transsexual history. It might rightly be said that I have nothing in common with the absurd characters portrayed by Walliams and Lucas; that has not, however, stopped people from linking me with those characters in the past. Here, for instance, is a report concerning me in the Daily Star

(edited to remove the Daily Star article, as the other person cited in it still finds it upsetting)

This is not the only example I could cite, but it is hopefully enough to give you an idea of what people write and think.

The reason that I was at an employment tribunal was that I had experienced harassment, intimidation and violence in the workplace. And I believe that in large part, my colleagues behaved the way that they did towards me because they were too ready to see a caricature rather than a real human being. And when people treat other people as caricatures, they open the way to abuse. And people rarely knowingly encounter transsexual people in their everyday lives. So that the way we are portrayed in the media colours their opinions and prejudices.

Apparently Nationwide Building Society claims that it is ‘proud to be different’. On the evidence of this commercial, you are not different. You are part of the problem.

Yours sincerely,

Dru Marland


  1. Hi Dru,

    Although I cannot as yet confirm it, I understand that the disabled character from the series was left out from the commercials, as it was considered it might be seen as offensive to include him.

    A nasty advert, and a campaign is already underway by Trans media Watch to bring the issue to Nationwide's attention.

    Independent letters and emails are also a good idea.

  2. Imagine those two clowns showing up in black face, and trying to open an account as negroes. When I see ads like that, I just have to shake my head in wonder. It takes such an immature mind to dream stuff like that up to begin with, let alone actually put it on the air.

    I'm so sorry to hear that you have faced discrimination and harassment, Dru. Good for you, for taking a stand against it!

    Melissa XX

  3. Interesting selectivity if true, Chrissie. Maybe the perception of Little Britain as being outdated is wider than we thought...

    Thank you, Melissa. I try not to go on about it, in case I end up like the Ancient Mariner, endlessly spouting the story; but sometimes it has to be referred to, because it happened.

  4. Little Britain - any/all of it - always was about as funny as a bucket of sick.

    Has Lucas ever tried to explain or justify the characters anywhere, do you know? I'd be interested to know what they thought they were doing. Unless, like that Boyle bloke, they just they just think it's big and clever to be offensive?


  5. I think that Walliams is touted as an upholder of diversity because he wrote a book called The Boy In The Dress, and is apparently a cross-dresser (is that right?) -but then Grayson Perry wears frocks too and he has some v dodgy takes on Teh Trans. Not In My Name, I think.

  6. I am still stunned that people find stuff like that funny. Is the sight of a man in drag really inherently funny to people? Can people really sit through Little Britain or Psychoville and enjoy it? I tried and failed. Too painful.

  7. Makes me ponder the role of clowns, which these characters are cast as. Maybe what NBS means by "proud to be different" is "different from those..." Caricaturing real people as buffoons calculated to arouse scorn (while arousing "sympathy" with the long-suffering supernormal).