Word on the street is that we’re not allowed to set fire to our ride-on lawnmowers. Particularly with a jerry can filled with flammable liquid.

Phew! Thanks for the reminder, because If I had been exposed to Amaysim’s ‘Time to say goodbye’ ad, where a bloke sets fire to his mower, I would have been bolting out to get the rocket fuel.

Thankfully, I was saved by the Advertising Standards Bureau, which moved swiftly to ban the offensive ad because it showed children how to set fire to a vehicle. Well, kind of. It’s more suggestive than provocative.

The ad’s voiceover informs us that it’s “time to say goodbye to the things we don’t need” and we are shown a man standing next to his burning mower with a jerry can.

We do not actually see the man setting fire to the mower, but golly gosh, all the evidence points to him. Now, I’m no forensic scientist, but I reckon it’s a fair assumption that he poured the contents from his jerry can onto the mower, lit a match, and kaboom!

It makes me wonder why I’m not rotting in jail because of the exposure I had as a kid to some very alarming suggestions of thought, especially from my favourite television shows.

Sylvester revealed to me how to violently get rid of an annoying friend, while Pepé Le Pew relentlessly seduced a reluctant female friend. Those Hogan’s Heroes lunatics blew up things all the time, as did the Roadrunner, who also got run over by a truck time and time again, and managed to get up time and time again.

And while I should have been morally outraged at the inequality on Gilligan’s Island, I confess I aspired to be more like Ginger than Mary Ann. Her hips had a powerful swing!

The effect on me from all this damaging programming has been varied.

Let me first assure you that I’ve never blown up anything, although I do confess I have been tempted to launch a hand grenade down the phone to a couple of call centres.

I was hit by a car once, and was disappointed I didn’t get up for three weeks.

I own a cat and a bird, and thankfully, the bird, just like Tweety, has it all over the cat (surprising really, considering she’s never seen a Looney Tunes cartoon).

I have been the helpless victim of seduction by some dirty rotten skunks, but jeepers they looked so good at 2am after a couple of chardies.

As for being like Ginger, while not quite as wholesome as Mary Ann, I was just as harmless, having never successfully mastered the swingy-hips, femme-fatale thing.

But back to the very offensive and influential Amaysim ad.

Despite Amaysim’s defence that there was no depiction of the vehicle being set on fire, no indication of what was in the can and that the advertisement as a whole was comic and not likely to be taken seriously by viewers, the free-to-air ad, Case Number 0038/18, was determined by the ASB “to be a depiction of a behaviour which would be against prevailing community standards on health and safety”.

It was pulled on 17 February, not only from television, but also from the internet, just in case anyone looking for something to do decided to google ‘How to set fire to a ride-on lawnmower’.

I pictured hundreds of thousands of complainants sitting at home, breathing a collective sigh of relief, and feeling just that little bit safer from rampaging children seeking out ride-on mowers to throw flammable liquid on.

Yep, hundreds of thousands, all sitting smug and snippy, revelling in that special euphoria that only comes from a crowd armed with a cause. I decided to check them out.

It was a lonely crowd.

One person had complained. Just one person was concerned that their child, watching the cricket and seeing the ad, could suddenly be compelled to run out, find and fill a jerry can full of flammable liquid and set fire to something. In particular, a vehicle. To be exact, a ride-on mower.

Wow. Oh wow. One bloody wowser, so paranoid about their child being an uncontrollable pyromaniac, felt compelled to fill out a form and complain to the ASB about an ad that most of us would dismiss as funny, or at the very worst, silly.

The only thing on fire here are the wowsers. It’s time we put them out.

Image source: YouTube