Spotlight social media campaign: sign of new puritanism?

University of Western Sydney academic Jane Caro says the backlash on Spotlight’s Facebook page complaining about the stocking of manchester emblazoned with the Playboy ‘bunny’ shows the absurdity of the online puritanical movement.

Angry shoppers are currently boycotting shopping chain Spotlight for advertising a line of Playboy-branded quilt sets in its latest catalogue.

Protesters have also flooded Spotlight’s social media pages with complaints, prompting the shopping chain to temporarily close its Facebook wall citing personal attacks against customers and fans.

Jane Caro, from the UWS School of Humanities and Arts, says the campaign shows the power social media now wields over businesses.

“Ordinary people can now make their voices and opinions heard in a way that has never been possible before,” she says.

“This is exciting, and scary.”

But Jane Caro also says the campaign highlights how the ‘new puritanism’ has been given accelerated power by social media, and is becoming conflated with a form of moralistic feminism.

“To be frank, this attack on manchester with the mildest of ‘sexy’ references is absurd,” she says.

“They are not being marketed to kids, and any kid seeing them on display would simply not make the so-called ‘sexy’ connotations unless their parent actually told them about it.

“Kids under ten see beds as things to sleep in, and it is only adults that add the sexual element.

“The so called sexualisation is all in the adults head- we used to call it wowserism.”