Ariane Sherine is intent on world domination


by Sunny
7th January, 2009 at 2:41 pm    

Back in July last year, I wrote about the Atheist Bus Campaign before it had taken off so massively, defending Ariane’s usage of the word “probably” in the official slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” In response, Rumbold snorted a bit derisively saying, “Is it really even much of a campaign? How many buses is it going to be on, and for how long? Who reads bus adverts anyway?”

Hah! The answer is here. The campaign itself has been huge and written about here by Ariane, who is now seriously challenging my bid for world domination. It’s already gone across Europe and to the United States. If it goes to India and Hindus, Sikhs & Muslims start burning effigies of her in unison then we’re talking global superstar.

On top of that, she’s was wearing a t-shirt on a day that I wore 5 layers and two pairs of socks when I went out. It just proves she’s super-human. Beware religious people, your foe is more powerful than you think.


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  1. Rumbold — on 7th January, 2009 at 2:43 pm  

    I stand by what I said at the time. How many people do read and remember bus adverts? Okay, people have seen this one, but that is thanks to the very media-savvy campaign run. Credit to Arianne Sherine for that. How many will remember it from seeing it on the actual buses though?

    The note of triumphalism about the whole campaign from various people seems a bit strange. Money has been raised in order to lecture me, and others, on what we should believe. The message is nothing more than the mirror image of the religious adverts that tell you to believe in their deity:

    ”There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

    On Sunny’s Buddhism thread, Douglas, myself and others expressed disquiet that belief (whether theist or atheist) was increasingly intruding into the public sphere. This is just another example of this. I respect Ms. Sherine’s and Professor Dawkins’ right to their own beliefs (my own views are immaterial to this point), but I don’t see why we should celebrate when they write it on the side of a bus for me to read. I look forward to joyous articles when a religious group pays for religious adverts on buses.

    Ravi said it best in the original thread:

    “I guess what pisses me off about this ad is that it implies unabashedly that people are worrying and don’t get on with their lives because they believe in God. Get it? A positive atheist message would be: “We do not believe in God and we do not worry, and we get on with our lives”. Instead, the ad that Sunny is promoting attacks people who believe in God.

    So, please do not insult our intelligence by saying that she is doing it for the good of people: both of you are engaging and promoting the same old stupid fight between religious and atheists.”

    http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/2148#comment-123999

  2. Leon — on 7th January, 2009 at 2:52 pm  

    I was very cynical about this at the time too but seeing the amount of money they raised (and how fast?!) changed my mind. Cha-ching! :D

  3. Leon — on 7th January, 2009 at 2:53 pm  

    Beware religious people, your foe is more powerful than you think.

    And cuter too.*

    *(I know we’re not meant to say things like that on an uber feminist blog like this but it’s true!)

  4. Leon — on 7th January, 2009 at 2:56 pm  

    Money has been raised in order to lecture me, and others, on what we should believe.

    Hang on a bloody minute: nobody is lecturing you. It’s a questioning point made to highlight those who would really lecture you or impose their beliefs on you.

    Hit the real target mate not the shadow.

  5. Rumbold — on 7th January, 2009 at 3:02 pm  

    Leon:

    “Hang on a bloody minute: nobody is lecturing you.”

    Yes they are. They are not only telling me their opinions on God, but also instructing me to “stop worrying about it and get on with my life.”

  6. Jai — on 7th January, 2009 at 3:13 pm  

    English people in general aren’t particularly religious (especially compared to the US); they “worry” because of the usual trials and tribulations in life, not because they’re concerned about the afterlife or the existence (or lack) of a deity. This slogan may have been much more relevant to the UK 40-50 years ago.

    Of course, some people would suggest that other people’s concerns about their lives possibly being meaningless and/or general “dissatisfaction” are a result of a lack of religion/spirituality in their lives, but that’s very much a matter of opinion.

    And conversely — taking this back to my original point — efforts to convince people that there’s no God and they have “nothing to worry about” are only relevant in a culture/society where religious beliefs are widespread. Which they ain’t in 21st Century Ingerlaanda, at least where English people are concerned. You could, in fact, call this “Preaching to the converted” (pun fully intended).

    It’s already gone across Europe and to the United States. If it goes to India and Hindus, Sikhs & Muslims start burning effigies of her in unison then we’re talking global superstar.

    Perhaps she should take her campaign to the Middle East too if she really wants to be a “superstar”, especially if the slogan’s amended to “There’s probably no Allah and Mohammad probably wasn’t his prophet — now stop worrying and enjoy your life”.

    I expect it would get an interesting response.

    Aggressive atheism is easy in liberal societies, but would proponents of “the cause” really be willing to stick their necks out in locations where their lives would literally be on the line ?

  7. Refresh — on 7th January, 2009 at 3:15 pm  

    Its the most amusing advertising campaign I’ve seen in a long time.

    I think your headline is about right, it is more about trying something out and seeing if it catches. A bit like the way blogging and so much else on the internet seems to work.

    As for the advert itself, can’t see why it should trouble anyone. The ‘Probably’ really does show a serious lack of conviction, and will (as others have said) cause people to think about God.

    Apart from proving once again that ideas can travel faster and wider because of the internet, Ariane has achieved not a great deal.

  8. douglas clark — on 7th January, 2009 at 3:18 pm  

    I suppose.

    Ariane Sherine does have a valid point. The silence of the majority in the face of this sort of rubbish:

    God’s wrath includes the prospect of eternal punishment – it is appointed to men to die once and then comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). You will rise from the dead and will face the Judge and know that you rejected His kind and merciful answer. You will be condemned to everlasting separation from God and then you spend all eternity in torment in hell. Jesus spoke about this as a lake of fire which was prepared for the devil and all his angels (demonic spirits) (Matthew 25: 41).

    Which is the sort of bullshit that gives organised religion a bad name. It is, please excuse the expression, an attempt at a brain fuck.

    And you could easily get to that by looking at the side of a Routemaster. This was their slogan:

    “When the son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

    So. Fight fire with fire?

    Maybe.

    I think all this proselytising is bad karma. Are we all going to become the same based on advertising spend?

    Anyway, here is me disagreeing with Leon. Now what could possibly be wrong with that?

  9. Leon — on 7th January, 2009 at 3:18 pm  

    Yes they are. They are not only telling me their opinions on God, but also instructing me to “stop worrying about it and get on with my life.”

    Seriously dude, you’re taking this far too personally. If you don’t like it you can always avert your eyes after reading the first word. :P

  10. Leon — on 7th January, 2009 at 3:20 pm  

    Fight fire with fire?

    Sometimes that’s the best option. ;)

  11. Jai — on 7th January, 2009 at 3:29 pm  

    If it goes to India and Hindus, Sikhs & Muslims start burning effigies of her in unison then we’re talking global superstar.

    Religious belief is a hell of a lot more widespread in India than it is in modern-day Britain, but there are also plenty of openly atheistic people over there too. I think it’s only the RSS types who would start “burning effiges” and whatnot, the rest would just think “crazy Britishers again” and shrug their shoulders.

    Unless members of this campaign started deliberately putting posters up in areas like Hardwar, Varansi, Amritsar etc, which is just being gratuitously provocative and insensitive. Not to mention very patronising.

    First people from Blighty send Christian missionaries to allegedly benighted areas of the world, then a couple of centuries later people from Blighty send atheist missionaries to other countries on a campaign to preach that there actually probably isn’t a God after all. Oh, the irony ;)

  12. Sid — on 7th January, 2009 at 3:31 pm  

    Ezekiel 25:17, anyone?

  13. Refresh — on 7th January, 2009 at 3:33 pm  

    ‘First people from Blighty send Christian missionaries to allegedly benighted areas of the world, then a couple of centuries later people from Blighty send atheist missionaries to other countries on a campaign to preach that there actually probably isn’t a God after all. Oh, the irony’

    Underlying both surely is that times might change but ‘We’ know best.

  14. douglas clark — on 7th January, 2009 at 3:47 pm  

    Leon,

    Fight fire with fire?

    Yes. As long as moderators stay out of the way ;-)

    Anyway.

    It seems to me that this is more interesting than most mainstream commentators have given it credit for.

    We are not a religious nation. This campaign allows the ridiculously disenfranchised majority of non believers to express themselves.

    We’d rule, except for the impossibility of herding cats. This is something that the godly have exploited for ages. There is no one voice for atheists or agnostics or the just doubtful. Each person who has arrived at that conclusion has arrived there through a different journey.

    But having arrived, or half arrived, at a destination that says:

    “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”

    you are left with no signposts, no common purpose.

    So, this campaign gives some fight back against that lack of identity, or community that most of us seek.

    Which probably explains why it wasn’t hard to raise the money.

    Anyway, that’s what I think.

  15. platinum786 — on 7th January, 2009 at 3:51 pm  

    Don’t worry sunny, you’re still on course. She’ll never make it out of western Europe. The Italians won’t advertise that stuff, neither will the Catholics.

    On top of that she’ll face protests throughout the Muslim world (that’s a billion people) and India (another billion) and China don’t do freedom of expression so we’ve got that billion covered too.

    All she can challenge is the America’s Europe and Africa. Now Africa isn’t really designed with buses in mind, it’s more Landcruiser territory. The Hispanics are all catholic as far as I know and the bible bashers won’t let her take all of America either.

    Essentially she’ll be taking out central and Northern America, as well as UK, France, Germany, those little countries that make chocolate and weed in between Germany and France and hopefully that should be it.

    Give me charge of Asia and the middle east in your world campaign and we can have it under wraps.

    As for the Australians, I don’t care, they’re too far away to affect anything but a few sporting events.

  16. Leon — on 7th January, 2009 at 3:57 pm  

    Fight fire with fire?

    Yes. As long as moderators stay out of the way

    The day London transport allows PP moderators any power over their advertising then you’d see a whole new form or moderation. ;)

  17. Jai — on 7th January, 2009 at 4:14 pm  

    Refresh,

    Underlying both surely is that times might change but ‘We’ know best.

    William Dalrymple actually wrote quite a scathing article online a year or two ago making exactly the same point.

    Amongst the numerous pertinent examples he gave, he stated that during colonial times it was a common attitude for people in the West to view “the Orient” and “the Muslim world” as being debauched and sexually licentious — but now that we in the West live in much more liberal times, people “over there” are now viewed as being excessively conservative and repressive in such matters. And that the problem in both cases was one group regarding itself as “the baseline” and, regardless of how much local attitudes change, consistently believing itself to be the primary point of reference which everyone else should fall in line with.

    As you know, for the record I’m not remotely “anti-Western” in my viewpoint, and am a pretty liberal and “Westernised” guy as British Asians go, but Dalrymple’s article made some brilliant points and is definitely worth reading. I’m afraid I can’t remember the URL but I’m sure you can find it via Google if it’s still around.

  18. douglas clark — on 7th January, 2009 at 4:15 pm  

    Leon,

    The day London transport allows PP moderators any power over their advertising then you’d see a whole new form or moderation. ;-)

    You know damn well that that is not what I am talking about.

    We’ll just need to agree to disagree then, won’t we?

    Does it make me a bad person, someone on the suspect list, someone who isn’t really on the agenda? Well?

    I have apologised when I’ve got things wrong. It is the nature of the beast that sometimes, just sometimes, you can pick up a wrong vibration from what someone has said.

    You comprehensively messed up on a video, if memory serves me right. Where is your apology?

    Love you anyway, even though you are coming across as a complete utter idiot.

  19. Cold Beer — on 7th January, 2009 at 4:19 pm  

    “There is no one voice for atheists or agnostics or the just doubtful.”

    Which is as it should be. Nontheism is not a religion. It isn’t attached to a morality or a system of government. It isn’t attached to any principles except scepticism towards the divine.

    If you want principles you should look at Humanism, or Buddhism, or Unitarian Universalism, which is basically Judeo-Christian morality minus the God stuff.

  20. Rayyan — on 7th January, 2009 at 4:23 pm  

    You might agree with Richard Dawkins on religion and God, but you may or may not be surprised to know the guy has bizarre views when it comes to crime and reproductive rights.

    A couple of weeks ago he appeared on the BBC show The Big Questions and referred to a plan by a Dutch MP to forcibly sterilise women who are bad (abusive, alcoholic, drug-abusing) parents as “complete common sense”. In his diatribes against any who would dare to think that God is real, he went a bit far and advocates the educated elite play god with the lives of badly off people.

  21. sonia — on 7th January, 2009 at 4:24 pm  

    a great idea which was taken up in an interesting way. as rumbold says, credit to her, she’s got imagination, chutzpah. she’s the catalyst – and a very charismatic, charming one too. (nothing wrong with pointing that out, uber-feminists around or not!)_

    there are a lot of people who supported the idea – which is why it took off.

    what’s the big fuss about? some of you need to take Sunny’s headlines with a pinch of salt! *as he no doubt intended himself* :-)

    whether it “goes” anywhere or not, i’m sure Ariane won’t be sitting and crying in a corner. its not about ‘achievement’ in the traditional sense is it? anyway its not ‘aggressive’ atheism, there’s a word propbably in there – and it’s amusing, its meant to make you think. what’s wrong with that? its a promotion of a ‘possibility’ of a different viewpoint. and can hardly be the same as shoving religion down your nearest and dearests’ throats, turning them into social outcasts if they disagree, and what else. besides, its not suggesting there is a ‘we’ or that YOU have to believe in a lack of a god. if there was a campaign to ‘reject’ god and if you didn’t something nasty to happen to you, well then the comparison can be made.

  22. Sofia — on 7th January, 2009 at 4:26 pm  

    What i hate about any advert based on religion or non religion..is how much money is wasted…this isn’t a piece of social marketing…no one is gonna suddenly convert to athiesm or suddenly quit whining about the end is nigh bollocks…it’s a bloddy waste of time and effort that could’ve been spent on encouraging debate between groups instead of a meaningless campaign which is only going to be successful at riling ppl that don’t need much encouragement in getting riled….clap clap…well done…

  23. sonia — on 7th January, 2009 at 4:30 pm  

    jai has a point about the Irony – and its a brilliant one.

    all those colonized populations, forced to give up whatever religion they had before, and now Europe turns around and says…erm..actually we don’t believe in that anymore. :-)

    well it doesn’t matter does it,there are so many evangelical christians in the new world, africa, and the latin american continent – far more religious than anyone else. it doesn’t matter that the original ‘perpetrators’ have lost their faith. !

    and of course, look at the tmuslims spread all over the world. all we need now is for the Saudis to shout ‘gotcha!’ and the circle will be complete

  24. douglas clark — on 7th January, 2009 at 4:32 pm  

    Cold Beer,

    Which is as it should be. Nontheism is not a religion. It isn’t attached to a morality or a system of government. It isn’t attached to any principles except scepticism towards the divine.

    True.

    But it is reasonable to think, is it not, that all these folk might, just might, feel a bit disenfranchised?

    Which was my point. The opportunity to fight back against theists might be a rallying point.

    Make of this what you will.

  25. sonia — on 7th January, 2009 at 4:32 pm  

    oh and everyone ‘reads’ bus campaigns – in London anyway – you cant help it, its big, its there, in your face, its subliminal if you’re not doing it consciously. and who cares where you saw a message? that’s not the point of advertising..

  26. sonia — on 7th January, 2009 at 4:33 pm  

    why is it money “wasted” Sofia?

  27. Sofia — on 7th January, 2009 at 4:35 pm  

    because it achieves nothing worth achieving…if you want to make a point there are cheaper ways of doing it..i’d rather spend the money on something worthwhile

  28. Sofia — on 7th January, 2009 at 4:36 pm  

    if i wanted to learn about the bible/quran/gita or whatever…a bus ‘advert’ is not gonna make me do it. nor will it make me believe in god or religion…so that is also a waste of money..

  29. sonia — on 7th January, 2009 at 4:41 pm  

    “t’s a bloddy waste of time and effort that could’ve been spent on encouraging debate between groups instead of a meaningless campaign which is only going to be successful at riling ppl that don’t need much encouragement in getting riled….clap clap…well done…”

    well you are kind of directly contradicting your own point – here you are, engaging in debate. why should you assume lots of people out there aren’t similarly chatting, over the dinner table perhaps, about what they saw on the side of a bus, and what it may or may not have made them think.

    and i doubt very much the point of the campaign was ‘conversion’ – why do you assume that? is it because religions are out to ‘convert’?

    if someone wants to spend their money reassuring the public that there is probably no hell (which is really what worries people) well what’s the problem? you might think it is one if you feel strongly people should believe in god, but if you don’t feel strongly, …?

    if you think there are better things to spend money on – by all means suggest one and start something up on pledgebank.

    (and there is so much shoddy advertising about, i can’t see why this would bother you so much)

  30. douglas clark — on 7th January, 2009 at 4:45 pm  

    Sofia,

    Then I’d expect you’d assume that this:

    “When the son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

    Is a reasonable use of money?

    The godly do it, as a routine. What a lot of idiots, wasting their time on advertising…

  31. sonia — on 7th January, 2009 at 4:50 pm  

    anyway, its not public money, so its up to them how to spend it.

    and people don’t have to pay attention to it if they don’t want to – so again, can’t see what the big deal is.

    its about promoting an alternative viewpoint – and yes there is something to celebrate about that. a diversity of viewpoints ‘out there’ everyone feel free to add their viewpoint however they choose – publishing on the internet, publishing on the side of the bus, one is free one isn’t. a plurality of viewpoints – i do think – is something to celebrate.

    so if someone wants to use the sides of buses to demand a new political party, i’m all up for it. I’ve had it with the limited parties we have, and I for one, would definitely celebrate more choice.

    plus, it was funny – i always welcome a touch of humour – that is definitely needed. I would fund a campaign for a ‘lighten up, its only life’ type slogan on the sides of buses, on credit cards (ha ha) and on the walls of banks.

  32. asquith — on 7th January, 2009 at 6:29 pm  

    You should drop the slogans on buses & just have footage of her. :)

  33. Ala — on 7th January, 2009 at 7:57 pm  

    I agree with Rumbold and Sofia. It’s a heck of a lot of money spent on self-congratulatory antics and preaching to the converted. Oh and riling relgious nuts and stoking their fervour.

  34. douglas clark — on 7th January, 2009 at 8:42 pm  

    Ala,

    I’d agree with you in principle. It is a heck of a waste of money, on one level. However what is being fought against is an insult to your intelligence.

    Whilst the brain dead are able to publicise their viewpoint, with impunity apparently, I’d be loathe to argue against it.

    Unless you see this, on the side of a bus:

    “When the son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

    as in any way reasoned? I take it that they too had to pay for their advert.

    It’s a culture war, I think.

  35. persephone — on 8th January, 2009 at 12:17 am  

    Perhaps ariane sherine could be enlisted to do a bus campaign about stopping the warring in Gaza

  36. sofia — on 8th January, 2009 at 9:05 am  

    “and i doubt very much the point of the campaign was ‘conversion’ – why do you assume that? is it because religions are out to ‘convert’”

    so what is the point..to remind ppl about a god or no god? and i’m not debating the existence or non existence of god i’m debating the reasoning behind the advert…

    Douglas, please refer to my comments 22 and 28…

  37. Leon — on 8th January, 2009 at 10:52 am  

    It’s a heck of a lot of money spent on self-congratulatory antics and preaching to the converted. Oh and riling relgious nuts and stoking their fervour.

    Eh? How is this ‘self-congratulatory antics’? If it’s preaching to the converted as you just as critical of all those religious adverts that get posted up?

    The money is a drop in the ocean compared to the millions religious groups spend each year ‘spreading the word’…

  38. persephone — on 8th January, 2009 at 11:37 am  

    “The money is a drop in the ocean compared to the millions religious groups spend each year ’spreading the word’…”

    Plus the unpaid assistance they get (because they are set up as charities) which does not even appear on their report & annual accounts.

  39. dave bones — on 8th January, 2009 at 1:50 pm  

    ha ha that is hilarious.

    It is silly to take it all too seriously.

    That girl is a bit easier on the eye than bloody Dawkins isn’t she.

    I might even become an athiest.

    ha ha ha

  40. sonia — on 8th January, 2009 at 1:53 pm  

    yeah as dave bones says, why take it so seriously, i took it in the spirit of amusement, and it is an amusing idea, people spend a lot of money on entertainment (and handbags) so why not. (has anyone looked inside harrods? its the whole of the f**ing middle east spending their oil money on who knows what- perhaps we should ask them why they are “wasting” their money?suggest they use that cash in other ways, like funding the bus advert Persephone suggested in no. 35 :-) )

  41. sonia — on 8th January, 2009 at 1:56 pm  

    Personally, I would run an ad campaign using the power of religion.

    Like ‘you Catholics/Muslims/etc. are all going to hell if you don’t do XXX { something i want to see happen}

    If people believe in such things, I guess we’d be fool not to use it. The Republican Party do, all the Mullahs do. why not us? (Ha)

    Of course, that would be sinister and manipulative, but hey…

  42. sonia — on 8th January, 2009 at 1:59 pm  

    “It’s a culture war, I think.”

    yep Douglas.

    and again, if i wanted to be sinister and cunning (;-)) i would use some bits from the religious texts to confuse the poor souls. there are some good bits in the Quran that would be good to splash on the side of a bus.

    ‘beware the false prophet’, ‘don’t have ‘blind faith’ etc. etc. I mean – what a head fuck eh?!

  43. sonia — on 8th January, 2009 at 2:02 pm  

    actually this has got me thinking, i’d love to splash the controversial Quran passages and Hadiths on the sides of Buses – (and not say where it was from, or anything else, just the extracts) Some of it no doubt would sound blasphemous (like the Prophet and the coitus interruptus hadith) and then boom! WE’D say too bad, that came out of a holy book, we are ‘publicising’ religion . and how would it be different to the folks who put the bible passage on the side of the bus?

    you could have two contradictory passages on the two sides of the bus.

    oh this is so much fun :-)

  44. Jai — on 8th January, 2009 at 2:36 pm  

    Actually having now familiarised myself with Ariane’s writing style by reading some of her articles, and also seeing from her photos that she does look like the cheeky saucy type, I retract what may appear to be the irate tone in some of my previous posts (I actually wasn’t angry, just being objective and playing Devil’s Advocate).

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Ariane’s efforts are intended in an amusing, somewhat mischievous way, even though I still think it’s a bit misguided and inappropriate in some aspects.

  45. sonia — on 8th January, 2009 at 2:39 pm  

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if Ariane’s efforts are intended in an amusing, somewhat mischievous way”

    yes i think they are, i think she, and no doubt a lo tof the people who put their money into the campaign, are having a good laugh at everyone getting their knickers in a twist and getting all holier than thou abou tit
    ;-)

  46. Sid — on 8th January, 2009 at 3:11 pm  

    Sonia, I did and I am.

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