It’s been a while since I dropped by Zoo Weekly’s Facebook page.
Regular readers may recall that it fell foul of the Advertising Standards Board in November for a Facebook post featuring the top half and bottom half of a disembodied woman which asked readers which they preferred.
So how have they been since? It looks like service remains as normal.
Zoo put up a picture of Kim Kardashian riding a jet ski with the not entirely subtle innuendo: “Kim sure loves water sports.”
Reader Martin Devaney certainly got the joke, asking: “Can I piss on her?”
And thus began a cavalcade of misogynistic hate.
“Repugnant bitch! Why the fuck are you posting this?”, asked Benoit Joncas
“Fkn crash”, suggested Manuel SoundsFamiliar.
“I hope she breaks an arm,” urgfed Danny Devlin.
“How’d she get her fat ass on the ski?” asked Jim Look.
“What a pig”, chimed in Cory Simpson
More charmingly, Bill New had his snuff fantasy: “I would like to tie just one brick around her ankle, throw her in the ocean n drink a beer while I watch her struggle then eventually drown…”
Mind you, that’s not the only charming Facebook post Zoo’s been posting in recent days.
With similar Wildean wit, it posted a picture of a woman on a bike with the innuendo: “Would you ride it (the bike, we mean)?” Of course you do, Zoo. Of course you do.
So Wolfgang Savage was clearly grabbing the wrong end of the stick when he replied “Right up the shitter.”
Then of course, there are contributions from Zoo’s female readers. Responding to a picture of a hitchhiker (Zoo’s innuendo: “Like if you’d give her a ride”, Eva Katalin Veres contributes: “Slut. Cover up.” while Teresa Enninga adds: “Looks like she belongs in the zoo.”
Zoo’s also been exploring fertility issues by posting a doctored image of a pregnancy test stick with the message “You should have sucked his dick!”
But the topic returns to anal sex.
Ryan Dean contributes: “I would rather see one that says: ‘You should have taken it up the arse.”
Even Prime Minister Julia Gillard comes in for reader scrutiny.
“She would have a nice hole,” opines Charlie Manson.
Aside from the general level of offence, there are a couple of reasons why Zoo’s Facebook page bothers me.
First, it ignores the self-regulatory standards set down for brand pages by the ASB and the Australian Association of National Advertisers. Although I can’t now see the Kim Kardashian post and it may have been removed, it was up for several days. The AANA recommends that brands check pages at least once a day and more often just after posting.
That seems to me like an issue that publisher ACP Magazines (currently rebranding as Bauer) should be getting to grips with. Either the publisher abides by the ASB or it doesn’t. The evidence suggests that Zoo has deliberately gone rogue.
But the other issue is that it’s simply off brand for Zoo Weekly. In chasing Facebook interactions, the mag has lost its way and is working against its own interests
I interviewed the now departed founding editor Paul Merrill at Mumbrella360. He made the argument, convincingly, that Zoo should be about celebrating women – they are, after all, the readers’ girlfriends, wives and mothers…. people to be celebrated, not denigrated.
But the mag’s social media policy is about cheap innuendo which inevitably unleashes a torrent of hateful comments that it often chooses not to remove. It seems to believe that it is better to get reader comments than to be on brand. At the very least it’s an enabler for the comments that inevitably follow.
Zoo may not be guilty of misogyny itself. But it’s asking for it.