Life isn't all beer and skittles and canned prunes and boxed chocolate products. Thankfully, there are people in this world who remain committed to inspiring fear, paranoia, suspicion, mutual mistrust, and loathing in us. These people are largely in government, or are friends with people in government ('we are working closely with the government to ensure that...' is usually how they put it.) And if private companies can use advertising to sell their products and cheer us all up in the process, then governments and their friends can use advertising just as effectively to darken our day, and remind us that there is a grey cloud behind every silver lining.
Work! It's a dangerous minefield of amputations and acid baths and near-death accidents. That is the clear message that I take away from one campaign they're currently running on the trams and in the movie theatres. Not content with merely saying 'be careful', the people who designed this particular ad campaign picked the most dour-faced actors, put them in the grimmest scenes, and shrouded them in the gloomiest atmosphere. Gritty realism aint the half of it: these ads are lurid, Gothic, and virtually swimming with foetid vapours and noxious gases. Quite possibly, someone should turn on the lights. The actors, meanwhile, have the most horrid things happen to them. One young man presents us with his handless arm (where'd that go?). Another girl gets her fingers chopped off (ouch!). Another woman presents her acid-drenched face to us (eeeeh!) The collective message we get from these ads is: something horrible happened to these people, and now their life is horrible! You wouldn't want to have a horrible life like an armless person, would you? TOO BAD!
Cigarettes! They cause you to have really quite ugly internal organs! Cigarette packets now come swathed in bizarre pictures of the exposed insides of the sick, sick nicotine addicts who still keep up with the habit. They don't show you what a non-smokers lung looks like - every bit as bloody, palpitating, slimy, with polyps waving to and fro in the alien internal gases that our body produces every day. Message: smoking is ugly and makes people who smoke it ugly too! Stay away from these ugly people! Ugh!
These are the most prominent examples at the moment, but there's more. However, I cannot quite buy the message of any of these ad campaigns. They'd have you believe that we are surrounded every day by horrible dangers, that life is just one big Soviet Gulag. Why, I could be typing away at work, and all of a sudden, my arm could be amputated, a huge vat of acid could fall on my head, and a nearby smoker could look at me, causing my internal organs to gush out of my body. 'Why, if only I'd been more careful and avoided evil people who smoke!' I will cry as I fall to the ground and die.
I'm still waiting for it to happen. It sounds kinda fun, actually.
Tim, your links stink, you fink!
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