By Michellina van Loder
For me, the song, ‘Teenage Crime’, is associated with dead birds on the sand; the obesity-inducing, type-2-diabetes-contributing drink, Coca-Cola; blood boiling and Tony Abbott’s semantic play with words “climate variables” instead of climate change; corporate irresponsibility; and the kindness of Swedish dance music producer, DJ Adrian Lux, of Swedish House Mafia, for allowing Greenpeace to use ‘Teenage Crime’ for one of their most successful challenges to date: the ‘Stop Coca-Cola Trashing Australia’ campaign, also promoted as, the much more inflammatory, “The advertisement Coca-Cola doesn’t want you to see”.
It’s clever the way the mind makes associations and connections with the connotations of music and lyrics. Or how, after seeing a film clip or the artists performing live, our perceptions are swayed in a way the marketing team behind the scenes intended them to be. Music for the masses. Role models for our kids. Music is no longer produced purely for consumers’ enjoyment and producers’ royalties. iTunes, U-torrent and YouTube have made music accessible to everyone. Artists allow their wares to be used for advertising, influencing and marketing.
It’s Tuesday, mid-afternoon; I’ve only just broken a sweat. It feels as though I’ve been on this treadmill for eons. Lifting the iPad, the digital reading tells me 49 minutes have passed, and I’ve covered 5.8 km. Swedish House Mafia pump out another dance-electronica track, feeding my motivation. ‘Teenage Crime’, plays through the Dr Dre headphones my family gave me—along with the message to please keep the “Doof Doof” down—for Christmas (and times like these). And then… dead birds fall from the sky.
The planet’s health is at stake, as is mine: I have a chronic illness of the environmental kind, the type where small amounts of everyday chemicals impact on my respiratory system as irritants (somewhat like an allergy, but the mechanisms are different); I need this ‘health maintenance’ as much for the health benefits as for the stress relief. Intent on living a healthy existence, I want to be the vitalist version of myself possible; music helps nurture this act of kindness. This means spending a lot of time seeking out fresh air and outdoor activities. Although, due to outdoor pollutants, I often find myself here, on my trusty treadmill: a rat running on its wheel, getting high on endorphins and music!
‘Teenage Crime’, which, in Australia, nudged number 6 on the Triple J Hottest 100 album, 2011, features on Swedish House Mafia’s, ‘Until One‘, and is also the twelfth song on Ministry of Sounds Running Trax, 2011: the album I run to the most. Dance music, like jogging, can be addictive. Ecstatic that one of my favourite dance tracks has been used in the fight for a healthier earth, I can’t help but ponder the reality:
On YouTube alone, it’s been viewed 1.5 million times. With electronica-dance music and catchy lyrics juxtaposed against images of sun-kissed-slim-white-bread youth (you know, the sort synonymous with Aussie coke adds? (before they decided to become culturally correct?)) skolling fructose, sugar and salt disguised as a drink, while living the dream on pristine Australian beaches. Apart from the lack of racial diversion, the other true-to-life element of life in this ‘Coke’ add is that these people are surrounded by dead birds.
Check out the ‘Coke’ add:
Thanks to ‘Teenage Crime’, this realistic Coke ad was used to garner the support needed to ‘market’ the ‘Stop Coca-Cola Trashing Australia’ movement. Music pleases and appeases us. Takes us to our happy places. Savvy marketing advertisers and multi-national corporations know utilising catchy tunes to tap into the consciousness of demographics for capitalist gain is one that plays the sweet tune of success. For them. For us, it’s the tune stuck in our heads—like ‘Teenage Crime’ is for me—that’s associated with a particular product, action or time.
What happens when that marketing campaign is turned around on Big Cola? When the song is used for the sole purpose of showing their disregard for the environment? Politicians’ apathy?
Well, the answer to that smells of corporate greed: first, the stench emanating from Channel 9 when they refused to run it during Friday night football coverage, which showed the beverage industry’s power. Greenpeace supporters had donated $22,000 for 30 seconds airplay. But channel 9, after accepting payment and allocating a time slot during the game, deemed it too “offensive” for airplay. Of course, SBS and channel 10 followed suit.
The next line of play: Greenpeace followed (now ex) NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell in a truck with the mock Coca-Cola clip (playing) on the side. How could he miss it? Easily. If he can’t remember a $3000 bottle of wine, why would he give an owl’s hoot about a scheme that makes empty drink bottles worth 10 cents?
Cash for Containers is a proven system used in over 40 countries to facilitate a small refund on bottles and cans. This lessens the likelihood of people littering our beautiful landscapes; it also provides those who need or want it, a small re-imbursement for picking up beverage container litter. In the ‘Stop Trashing Australia’ campaign, Greenpeace research states that, “82% of Australians surveyed want the Cash for Containers scheme.”
Furthermore, South Australia, with it’s 35-year-old Cash for Containers Scheme has the highest success rate of recycling bottles and cans in Australia. If we look at the facts, only 34.5% of Australia has the Cash for Containers Scheme set up. With the peril we’re facing due to climate change, it’s ludicrous for a corporation like Coca-Cola to wield a sword capable of halting such progress.
Furthermore, research shows that over 100 marine species—including the Blue Whale, the Triston Albatross and the Loggerhead Turtle—are affected by plastic pollution. Autopsies on dead seabirds on Lord Howe Island have revealed stomachs full of plastic. Birdlife is suffering, oceans are awash in plastic, shouldn’t that be enough to warrant change?
For me, music is essential for my own health maintenance. For our earth, is it possible that people, and their obsession with music, will help to maintain our environment’s health? For as UK broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough says, “Our obsession with plastic is chocking to death some of the most spectacular animals on the planet. We have to act and we have to act fast.”
Greenpeace, date viewed 18 April 2014, <http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/en/news/oceans/How-we-got-Barry-OFarrell-to-watch-your-Coke-TV-ad-/>.
Greenpeace, viewed 20 April 2014, <http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/en/news/oceans/The-TV-ad-Coca-Cola-doesnt-want-you-to-see/>.
Teenage Crime, Wikipedia, viewed 29 April 2014, <http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teenage_Crime_(song)>.
But wait, there’s so much more…
Did you know that the song, ‘Teenage Crime’, is actually about a married woman who has children young, while still a teenager, then, all grown up, she gets bored with her lot, and, after tucking the kids in at night, massages her husbands shoulders, then sneaks out partying all night with partners half her age, while hubby and kids are safe and sound at home in bed? The lyrics: “Making up for Teenage Crime,” that she missed out on.
“The music video was directed by Tobias Hansson in Stockholm, Sweden. It depicts a story about a middle-aged mother who cannot hide from her past by leaving her family in the night as a modern-day cougar catching young hipster boys at a partying nightclub to spend and make out with.”
Here’s the film clip:
Greenpeace Blog Post by Ian Kiernan: More cans than cigarette butts in clean-up campaign
Greenpeace Blog Post by Isoble Marasigan: Cash for Containers: it makes cents
Greenpeace Blog Post by Alexis Harris: The Making of #Where’s Barry
Greenpeace Blog Post by Alison Orme: Coca-Cola’s ‘Three Cs’: cops, cons and court action
Blog, Incidental Observations: Greenpeace anti-Coke