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Air New Zealand’s Safety Video Backlash: Gay Rugby Kiss Scene Yanked Over Complaints

The Air New Zealand passenger safety video that made light gay flight attendant Will Coxhead trying to sneak a smooch from Richard Kahui, a rugby player on the All Blacks, will be edited to remove the scene from upcoming flights. You know, because telling passengers the gays have cooties wasn’t nice.

“When we created this video and discussed the scene featuring a gay male flight attendant and a rugby player with key stakeholders, including a number of the gay community, we received none of the feedback we have in the past week,” says the airline’s operations and safety manager David Morgan. “The scene was not something that we, the people we tested the scene with, or indeed the participants in the scene, viewed as distasteful or likely to cause concern.”

But Coxhead, who appears in the video, doesn’t see what all the fuss is about: “I’m absolutely gutted that a couple of people in the gay community have ruined this for everyone else. I’m proud to be gay, proud to be an Air New Zealander and extremely proud of my role in the safety video. Obviously there are some people in the gay community that can be a little precious and need to lighten up.”

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  • divkid

    im conflicted on this. i know it is kinda po-faced and humourless to oppose these kind of trivial depictions. however part of me wants to be stalinist on this issue because we haven’t got equality yet — parts of the world want to imprison us and kill us because of our otherness and the disgust it engenders in them. is this tired humour a luxury we can afford?

    maybe the time for the jokes is after we get are acceptance a little more firmly embedded in the culture. then hopefully we can rip into each over on an equal footing.

    the fact that it’s ya’ actual gay in on the joke is not relevant to the matter of its legitimacy or appropriateness; that such fools collude in their own oppression is not new. such bitch-ass pandering minstrelsy has been the bane of all oppressed groups. but then again i could be making too much of this as im cranky from lack of sleep. its just that seeing that look of (mild) disgust in that guys face, i know as a child that would have spoken volumes to my own nascent sense of self-disgust. that scene just didn’t need to be there.

  • pfitzner

    I’m against any film depicting a flight attendant hitting on a passenger. It’s simply unprofessional. Imagine if it were an army recruitment film! That said, I’d happily meet this guy for a drink after we landed.

  • GetBalance

    Yeh, the scene was condescending, and I would have had another rugby-type play the flight attendant, instead of the typical fag stereotype i.e. our worst advertising nightmare for gaining placement in the real world.

    If we are going to run ads like this, the gay guy needs to be a male role model people find attractive and hot, (where was Rieken damnit?! A-List NY)instead of an obvious(Derek A-List NY)rubber stamp sissy-gay laughing stock. It’s beyond annoying to be sissy-“Derek”-labeled as a culture ad-nauseum for f***ing centuries.

    Glad it got removed as G-stereotype is only a small part of what the gay community represents. It may be the most sissy-vocal and obnoxious, but it’s definitely not the best part by any stretch. Sissy is not hot, sissy is lets laugh at the queers, how obvious can it be? This is not the way to win friends and influence people.

    Other than a minor sprinkling of media, is gay porn the only place masculine gay guys get filmed?


  • pete

    They must have edited out the part where a white passenger refuses to sit next to a black man….or any number of other offensive stupid scenes. It was just uncalled for, and yes, offensive.

  • pfitzner

    @GetBalance: I’ve dated all kinds of gays in my time, from “regular” guys, who just liked to do it, to high nells, and even a drag queen. None was a stereotype: they were all complete persons, just as this flight attendant is. In what sense is a guy sucking dick in a porn movie “masculine”? Why hide behind hetero-normative images? Are you this judgmental about the people you meet?

  • Tom

    I agree that the scene was uncalled for and the complaints were not only over the past week, i know people who complained about this scene from the time it started screening. The joke may be okay for a small section of the queer community, and seemingly they were approached. My question though is how many representatives approached have partners friends or obligations to Air NZ and would happily nod and say ‘well thats cute, no problem with me’, some queer people dont have objective views about media representation and dont work in the queer community to know some of the issues that arise. I dont believe that Air NZ did a good enough job of checking in with a diverse range of queer perspectives. Also it is okay for us have strong opinions about our rights and the welfare of our community. Homophobia and transphobia is subtle and we need to be more demanding about our representation. The stereotypes are boring, if you work in the media or with the media please help to stop the way our archetypes manifest on screens.
    I also commend Will for his role in all Air NZ ads, he is a great role model for queer youth. I can understand his perspective, it can be complex to represent the whole queer community, this joke is a fine line. The key is AirNZ knew of complaints much earlier and needed to deal with this sooner. They have insinuated that the queers are making a drama out of something, when it was clear the joke was a lil off kilter from feedback earlier.

  • GetBalance

    @Pfitzner My comment was not based in being judgmental as much as discernment as I too have dated the spectrum. My love of my life is obviously gay so that is not the issue here. My issue is w integration, and how we as a culture go about it.

    I am also looking at a culture war where kids are hanging themselves in their bedrooms. And I’m saying, lets start with some “normative” gay guys and bring out the i.e. feather boas plucked eyebrows zircon tierras and the bitches at a later date. I also agree with Elton John, DP now and GM later on.

    We live in a very harsh homophobic society. I “get it” when the straights say they have had it with so much intense “gay” going on. They just can’t identify with the gay stereotype like they could a good looking well bred even communicating gay guy.

    I really don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, but we are at war, and the legal system and PR are our biggest and best defense. We must make optimal use of both. If that flight attendant wasn’t such a swish, Mr Rugby player may have got a twinkle in his eye. But it was a typical str8 guy flips off swishy gay guy. It was a total fuck off to gays in general.

    I will say that the gay people I have seen who have gotten married in the states where gay marriage is legal, are busting stereo types. They look normal healthy bright and cool. I would simply like the media to get a clue and sign up for normal for a while.

    You must admit, seeing the gay stereotype by a straight guy only makes them laugh or get disgusted. Is that the kind of response you want in times such as these? If you were a PR manager for this culture war, how you would handle it?

  • SteamPunk

    I have to agree with the flight attendant, it seems some gays are being “a little precious and need to lighten up”. It’s not like the Rugby player snarled or looked repulsed at the fact that a gay person just hit on him. The player smiled, shook his head no and walked away. A straight person politely saying no to an advance from a gay person: What’s so wrong with that? Heck, I wish more straight people would handle it that way instead of immediately flying off the handle.

  • KraftMachine

    Why are gay men so prone to being the butt of every joke? Why is it acceptable for us to always be the punch line? Why is it any other demographic would be up in arms and it would be “un PC” to poke fun at their expense but it is always perfectly acceptable to laugh at the gay? Why are many gay men push overs to being mocked? Why do you think gay rights are never taken seriously….could there POSSIBLY be a correlation to us not being taken seriously?

    Yes, let’s all lighten up, have a beer and laugh at the gay. After all, some in the community welcome it.

  • randy

    I agree it was an out-of-place sequence and would be unprofessional conduct from a flight attendant. Regardless of the perceived masculinity of the flight attendant, perhaps the scene may have had a better chance of not alienating anyone if after the attendant taps his cheek, the rugby player could have looked at the camera, shrugged his shoulders, then pecked the attendant on the cheek. No foul, no harm.

  • KraftMachine

    @GetBalance: Where to start. Your way of combating those who laugh at gays is to simply go and poke fun at other gays. Identifiable gays. Identifiable gays should not have to “butch it up” to be tolerated, especially by us. Tolerance is the practice of recognizing someone else’s differences, but realizing they have the freedom to exercise that innate difference…especially when it doesn’t harm you in any tangible manner. We as the LGBT community know first hand what it’s like to be marginalized. How dare we then go and corner our very own, and isolate them, and give them a tongue lashing for their mannerisms?….their behavior?…how they walk/talk? Are we in 2010, in the United States? Fighting for equality? Under what pretense are you fighting for equality. So people should act in a uniform manner to appease your comfort levels because they happen to share the one commonality of sleeping with the same sex as you do? Do you hear what you are preaching? It is void of any reasoning and respect.

    What you don’t grasp when arguing straights are more comfortable with gays they can relate to, is that the reason SOME hetrosexuals have disdain for fem gay men is not due to their mannerisms (if so, why don’t they call out overly alpha, douchebag hetrs out) it’s the fact that in their minds, gay is being promoted when a man has feminine traits, and a woman has a short hair style and low tone voice. To them, when an identifiable gay man walks the streets, he’s a walking billboard of the gay agenda and is promoting “being gay” and if said hetros had it their way, gay would simply be a sexual act you keep behind closed doors, in your bed, in tightly sealed walls, and when in public the word gay would never be uttered, much less someone who dares not fitting narrow gender roles displaying it. I’ve had this conversation with MANY a hetrosexuals who saw the light and converted to the right side of the line (pro equality) and spelled it out for me. When a straight person vocalizes “Stop flaunting yourself” to an identifiable gay person, that is code for “Stop being gay. I don’t want to hear or know about it” and your idea of gays bending backwards to role play what makes hetrosexuals comfortable is reaffirming that. Whether you realize it or not.

    So WHAT if a gay guy has a high voice? so WHAT if a gay guy likes to walk with a strut down the street? or is overtly energetic and high strung? How does he not have that right and how could anyone suggest his civil rights be jeopordized due to how he chooses to live his life? There is absolutely no logic there.

    Your usage of the word normal is also intriguing considering many could argue your being gay is pretty abnormal. Infact, every argument you are making toward why effiminate gay men should act more normal and masculine, one could just as easily substitute the words hetrosexual and normal and request you be normal like them and simply keep it in the closet. Demanding someone “butch it up” is no different than demanding someone be hetrosexual at al. Both apples fall from the same militant tree of not minding your own business and having the audacity to determine someone else’s livelihood. Until you “str8 acting” gay men realize this, you will continue to misdirect your anger and frustration at the wrong people, furthering backpeddling our cause.

    We need to move forward as one united front, that INCLUDES the lesbian who is butch, the gay kid with a lisp who does ballet, the football player who is bi, the fem gay, and alpha gay, all together. For you to alienate a sector of our community is NOT at all what Stonewall was about. Stonewall was about liberation to be who you are, celebrate our differences, and live in a world where justice and equality is for all, not only men who remain masculine and woman who remain feminine …”or else”…the or else argument is what has our plight and community at a damn stand still.

  • SteveAtlanta

    yes, we’re at a war but it’s not one with effeminate gays. for the rest of us healthy minded gays, we’re waging that war against people like yourself who can’t get the simple fact that this world is big enough for people to not all be and act the same. All the masculine gay men who have to scream their masculinity from on top of a hill are just the Uncle Toms of this war. And as for those gay kids hanging themselves, wanna know why? it’s directly because of thinking like yours. they can’t live a peaceful life without someone out there asking them to change something about themselves. hetrosexuals telling them they’d be better off being straight and then there’s gay folk like you telling them they’d be better off acting masculine than just being themselves, whatever that may be. Have you tried donating your time with the Trevor Project and talking to gay youth about their struggles? I have for the past 6 years and so many of them tell me it’s the confined idea of being something else and not just being allowed to just be that is most exhausting. now that’s tragic. people like you are so damn concerned with how we gays act that you forget that a person’s self worth ain’t measured by his body language but by the content of his heart, character and integrity and a gay kid who faces an intolerant world and is unapologetically himself has more integrity than your campaign to petition what hetros want and sell our soul.

  • SteveAtlanta

    @KraftMachine: + 1,000,000,000 I’m gonna copy/paste this if you don’t mind and share it on my blog. it is brilliant and gets right to the heart of the matter in a matter of fact manner. this hierachy of insecure gays waging a war against fem gays is turning into a serious problematic time waster for our community and these so called “str8 gays” will not rest until all gay men start apologizing for who they are. Time to call the BS divisiveness out. so right on! so well said!

  • jason

    What does Coxhead mean by “ruined it for everyone else”? Does he mean homophobes who love homophobic stereotypes? Sometimes gay men can be the biggest promoters of homophobia, and I view Coxhead as one such person.

  • jason

    I think some gay men enjoy being punch-lines. It’s the only way they get attention from the homophobic mainstream media.

  • JadeLycra

    I would be SO high on oxygen on this trip…

  • John

    I see nothing offensive in this video and have to wonder if some folks are intentionally looking to be offended.

  • Alan

    Oh guys get over yourselves! It was a cheesey joke, I barely would have noticed it if it hadn’t been pointed out.

  • Rob Moore

    I was not insulted by this video. I thought it was rather entertaining. The scene in question was not offensive to me since the rugby player, Richard Kahui, rebuffed the flight attendant with a smile and a simple shake of the head. I have said to more than one straight man that if a gay man indicates his attraction, the straight man ought to consider it as a compliment and reassurance that straight women will find him attractive. He should smile and decline politely, because there is no secret signal, handshake, or codeword to tell.

    It was no worse than the earlier scene in which the female passenger required her oxygen mask after Richie McCaw passed her in the aisle. If you knew anything about New Zealand, you would know that it is quite a bit more gay friendly than the U.S. in general. You would also know that rugby is to New Zealand what the NFL, MLB, and NBA combined would be to the U.S. The particular team in question is the All Blacks, which is the national team representing New Zealand in international competitions, that is comprised of the top players from the professional clubs in New Zealand. Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, and Richard Kahui are considered the creme de la creme in Kiwi rugby.

  • scott ny'er

    @Rob Moore: Good points. It wasn’t like Kahui made a disgusted face after the attendant tried to get a kiss. Or vomited or minced away, etc.

    I wasn’t offended.

  • JT

    Come on, people. Pick your battles! There is no reason to be offended by the clip. The way to be taken seriously is to focus on the important issues, and forget about the pedantic bullshit.

  • AugustLA

    Why did they not choose to do this scene with two female cast members as opposed to male? Because male intimacy evoked more laughs? We should not be taken for a ride under the false assumption of cheap laughs at our expense, and ONLY our expense. Notice how advertisers are too cowardly to poke fun at any other demographic, and yes, the idea of two men kissing (regardless of each of their orientation) is what the premise of this ad was all about, and if that’s your punch line than yes…prejudice is involved. Not until we DEMAND respect will we get any. I will never, ever excuse the F word being used by anyone either, said jokingly or not, that is an ugly word reserved for ugly souls who use it.

  • Jake

    What some of you are forgetting too is that this was Air New Zealand, and New Zealand isn’t America. Gays are much more accepted in NZ, hell the Attorney General is a queen even. My point being that you have to consider the local context, and it is one that is generally quite friendly towards gays.

  • Jake

    I should also note that fantastic support that Air NZ provides to the gay community, they are the sponsors of many queer events and even have a “pink flight” once a year with drag queeens as the stewards to ferry people to the Sydney Mardi Gras.

  • Dali

    Coxhead ! Now THAT’S funny ! lol

  • Aaron in Honolulu

    What?! The rugby player wasn’t attracted to the gay flight attendant? Am I sexist for not being sexually attracted to females?

  • GetBalance

    @ KraftMachine and SteveAtlanta,

    I think you both took my comment wrong. You seem to think I am out to change someone’s mannerisms. That is impossible and I have no interest in doing so and could not be further from the truth. I have dated and have friends of all mannerism spectrums. I am talking about altering the ADVERTISING of gays to include not just the traditional obviously gay stereotype, to include some everyday attractive gay people that also represent a portion of the gay community that is not obviously gay. THAT is a totally rare event. You talk about inclusion, well there it is. Missing. We have been publicly jammed with the same extreme obviously gay stereotype FOR EVER. Does it make sense that making it real by including other parts of the mannerism spectrum is good from a PR point of view? It seems you are more interested in talking about what you THINK I said, rather than what I really said.

  • GetBalance

    PS We are appealing to the str8 factor to get laws changed. Think of yourselves as straight ad execs put in charge of integrating the two communities via the media. How would you want us represented? Personally, getting straights to laugh us off as insipid twits would not be my first focus. If you are going to get a real perspective on this, you will have to actually think you’re a str8 liberal ad exec, yeh an acting exercise, looking at gay ads. I cringe at most ads like I cringe at gay parades with naked people running amuck. And I’m a nudist! But that doesn’t change my mind b/c it’s advertising when a gay parade is filmed. It goes out on the 5 o’clock news. I see a whole lotta fuck-you to str8 people in our ads. We will gain all our rights eventually, but at what cost? Half the country has banned gay marriage in their constitutions. Why? Bad PR. It didn’t have to be that way. And we have not only the suicide of youth, but a seriously depressed gay community taboot. I will give you on the flip side though, there is no easy way to turn a sows ear into a silk purse.

  • GetBalance


    ——– Bulls Eye ———–

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