Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dumb Ways to Die

In the United States, public service announcements (PSA's) are a necessary evil supposedly aired to fulfill FCC requirements, but more than likely simply a time filler for unsold weekend or late night local break slots. While there are exceptions mainly aimed at children, most PSA's in America get their messages across with all the subtlety of a tsunami. To call this technique Shock and Awe, a military term, isn't far off the mark, as American PSA's for TV share their roots with "Refer Madness," World War II newsreels, and 1950's Atomic Age instructional films. If you're a good American, you'll sit up straight, pay attention, and take this as seriously as you do sex.

In recent years, blasting the viewer out of his comfort zone with harsh imagery and stark soundtracks, whether he deserves it or not, is believed to be the only way to break through the clutter... never mind that a continual onslaught of these images eventually desensitizes viewers to the point where they laugh at these things or simply reach for the remote. And does anybody really want something like this coming at them during Craig Ferguson?

Which is why I find this twisted little gem from Australia to be a breath of fresh air. It has everything most American PSA's - or commercials, for that matter - lack in abundance: eye-pleasing and attention-holding visuals, a catchy tune, and a message that doesn't screech at the viewer like Sister Mary Francis after getting hit by a spitball. Too bad something like this would probably never get cleared on most American TV stations.

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