To this day, I love fried Spam and eggs. The crunchy and salty slice of processed mystery meat dipped in just cooked egg yolk is one of my favourite breakfasts. After all, it was the breakfast that I grew up eating on Sunday mornings when we’d all sit around the table and mum would hand out these small rectangles of fried salty goodness. I didn’t think it was that strange till I had a conversation with some of my friends who furrowed their little brows in disapproval, “ew, Spam is gross, it’s like dog food”. I quickly learned that my beloved Spam breakfasts were not as commonplace as they seemed, but rather they were an oddity. In a world of bacon and egg rolls with hash browns, my beloved family breakfasts of Spam and rice were distinctly different.
Having meaningful conversations about systemic racism and social immobility can connect people as much as the act of absorbing someone else’s microcosm of grief and relating to it. Ideally, I think, the conversations should encompass both the macro issues and the micro everyday scenes: acknowledging the social values that might hinder social change and communicating the process of witnessing everyday pain that reminds us of our shared humanity.
The Southern Man advert is aiming to speak to a specific audience of beer drinkers, assumed by Speight's to be men. Other beer companies have played with similar received notions of masculinity. Tui, another New Zealand beer company, have run adverts where rural ‘blokes’ who run out of gas for the BBQ decide to power it from the farts of a nearby cow. This is seen as a representation of the much lauded ‘Kiwi ingenuity’. Another example of the stoic, terse masculinity of what advertising companies imagine farmers to be is the advert Toyota ran in 1989 that sees a series of farm accidents with the farmer responding ‘bugger’ after each of these.
In regard to how much pre-determined ‘luck’ compares to perceptions of social mobility, it is useful to remember that both luck and feelings of free-will play into social inequities. Social security measures that aim “to help people help themselves” could better acknowledge whether people really feel like they have a choice to contribute to their own and others’ circumstances, and then care for ‘being’ part of that change.