I was astonished. There have been so many complaints about the branding of Anzac and Gallipoli but I never expected to see a rubbish bin adorned with the official logo of the centenary of the landing at Gallipoli.
There it was on Glenferrie Road. I was walking to the hairdresser, minding my own business, and the anniversary was thrust in front of me, unasked, via a rubbish bin!
I took a photo and showed it to a local resident. They took it in their stride. “I think they put Christmas banners on the rubbish bins in Hawthorn too”, they said. I vaguely recall seeing Christmas bells on the rubbish bins. It makes them look pretty and we don’t seem to mind trashy (pardon the pun) promotion of Christmas do we? Anzac is also sacred so if it works for Christmas it must be fine for Anzac.
The Anzac rubbish bin actually says a lot about us. We have a rather haphazard sense of respect. To my knowledge no-one else has raised an eyebrow about these bins and the fact that the logo of a supposedly revered anniversary is a wrapper for a rubbish receptacle.
The banner on the bin highlights the official government logo for the centenary. The Australian government’s Anzac Centenary website stipulates that permission must be sought for any use of the logo, so I presume that the Department of Veteran Affairs has approved the Boroondara Council’s use of the logo on rubbish bins. There is no controversy about these bins in the local area so if they have been noticed, which we can’t assume in a country that plasters logos on everything, people have thought the bins are fine.
It makes me think of our use of the Australian flag. A nation’s flag is also supposed to be respected. In fact we have protocols governing its use. This is one of those protocols:
The flag should not fall or lie on the ground or be used as a cover (although it can be used to cover a coffin at a funeral).
The way I read it, using the Australian flag as a cover for a rubbish bin is definitely out.
It also should not fall or lie on the ground. So why do so many people buy Australia flag beach towels and then lie on them at the beach?
And take a closer look at this photo. The Australian flag is used unashamedly as swimmers, which leads me to a related use of the Australian flag:
Try googling ‘Australian flag, underwear’. There is a lot on offer out there, particularly male underwear (and that is another story). Is sitting on the Australian flag and using it as underwear a respectful use of it?
We can castigate the businesses who have made these products, but there have been a lot of Australians over many years who have happily bought and used these flag products.
We have a strange notion of respect.