So, the other day, Hell Pizza decided to reward a rape confession with pizza. Despite the fact that the storyteller described his victim as a “wanker” and explained that he wore a mask to hide his identity, Hell defended themselves saying that they read it as a Jackass-like prank between mates. Needless to say that a lot of people were horrified by this (slightly depressing to say that a lot of people weren’t horrified by it and defended Hell and the rapist) and expressed this on Facebook and Twitter. Amongst this, I sent a tweet simply saying, “$55,000 is small-change to a large company facing a PR disaster, @hellpizza666. It’s also the shortfall Wgn Rape Crisis needs to make up.”
Soon it was off on a retweet bonanza. Keywords in the tweet were trending, Toby Manhire wrote a bit on the Listener website about it, TVNZ linked to it. At least two people who don’t know that they know me in real life retweeted it. Some guy from London tweeted me, seeming to think that my tweet qualified as extortion. From my perspective, as someone who avoids the spotlight as much as possible, it was fascinating and a little frightening to watch.
The next day, there was an exciting moment where the New Zealand Herald announced that Hell would be making up Wellington Rape Crisis’ shortfall. And then some people were enormously pissed off, saying that Hell was promoting rape culture in one breath and then turning around and acting all heroic helping out poor struggling Rape Crisis in the other. And I could see their points and I felt a bit rubbish because these were things that I hadn’t considered in the slightest when I composed my tweet the night before.
Hell soon clarified that they were in fact going to donate 10 grand to Rape Crisis and then match dollar-for-dollar the donations people made until the end of the month. I felt all the more rubbish that it was such a pathetic token figure. If they had made up the whole $55,000 shortfall, in my mind, it would have seemed like an act of contrition. To chuck a few grand to Rape Crisis seemed like the price of business, the price of all that publicity they got.
But after some thought, I now figure…
In a better world, the Hell storyteller would have never thought that sticking his genitals in someone’s unwilling mouth while hiding his face to protect his identity was a good thing to do. In a slightly less terrible world, Hell would not have rewarded the story and would not have published it on social media for all to read.
In a better world, Wellington Rape Crisis would receive proper government funding for the vital work it does. In a slightly less terrible world, donations would pour in from the community to cover the shortfall.
But given that we live in a world where the assault DID occur and Hell DID reward it and publish the story for all to read; given that we live in a world where Rape Crisis IS criminally underfunded and IS unlikely to make up the shortfall through community donations, I think Hell donating money and prompting others to donate money is a better outcome than Wellington Rape Crisis not receiving any money from the douche-bags at Hell.
That’s not to say that I think Hell is absolved and that we should pat them on the back and say, “Aww, you done good after all, Hell.” Not by a long shot. I think they’ve proved once and for all that they’re a company without ethics, one that will seek shock-publicity at any costs, and I won’t be rewarding their behaviour by ever buying their products again. I just think that if there’s a way for Wellington Rape Crisis to make up a chunk of their funding shortfall, then this is good for Wellington Rape Crisis and good for the clients who need their services.
I know I – and a whole bunch of others, if the tweets are to be believed – took a lot of satisfaction in donating to Wellington Rape Crisis, knowing that every dollar I gave was costing Hell Pizza a dollar.