I have never particularly liked Richard Branson, but I have watched his efforts to turn into Mufasa from the Lion King with some degree of interest. I have also recently developed a morbid fear of finding myself on holiday on the island of Necker with Branson and his coterie of ‘eclectic’ companions, having to listen to someone play acoustic guitar over breakfast, someone else accompany them on the bongos, and Branson give me motivational lectures about how there’s nothing to stop me going for my dreams. There is, Richard - there’s my inherent laziness, fear of personal responsibility, and love of binge drinking for starters.
Anyhow, I digress. The latest Virgin Atlantic advert has rattled my cage, and I must come forth to trample Mufasa-Branson like a herd of angry feminist bison. I don’t know why I expected better from a company whose promotional efforts thus far have brought us such delights as this:
And this, which somehow reminds me of that bit in Of Mice and Men where Lennie kills Curley’s wife:
But when their latest ad promised something about ‘flying in the face of ordinary’ I thought I’d give it a spin. If you're inclined towards masochism, you can watch it here.
Here’s what happens. Apparently, people who work for Virgin Atlantic are born with ‘very special gifts’. If you’re a lad, this means that you get to have top drawer lolz time designing and catapulting yourself about in a small aircraft, throwing paper planes about, catching fish with your bare hands, or at the very least fiddling about with hi-tech design programmes on computers while annoying mum shouts at you to go to bed (women! Always trying to halt progress with their tedious domestic rituals.)
If you’re a girl, what makes you very special is that you have an ability to prevent the males of the species from getting wet. I did feel moderately hopeful that one little girl appeared to be telekinetic, but wait, no, her true superpower is that she can sniff out red shoes like a shark can detect blood in water. Much better.
So when you grow up, this means that the boys get to be pilots and engineers and things like that. If you’re a woman, you get to hand tickets and tissues to a man who can’t even be bothered speaking to you, and then smile with the glowing satisfaction of a job well done as he captures his snot globules in the handkerchief you just gave him! Amazers! Or, you can smear your mouth in red lipstick, set your facial expression autopilot to ‘sassy’, and coquettishly ask ‘how may I service you?’ (slight artistic license here, but I bet that’s what she’s taught in training).
Upshot? Women who are special are so because they have a lovely smile, like red shoes or know how to look after men so they don’t get unnecessarily damp or covered in their own bodily fluids. Men who are special are talented, intelligent and skilled. Challenging the status quo? More like dishing up the same tired old stereotypes.
Don’t fly Virgin Atlantic, ladies. All the actual telekinetic women have obviously defected to BA.