Going Too Far With A Public Service Announcement

In an effort to put a stop to texting while driving, a Public Service Announcement was issued by the Gwent Police Department in Wales. Due to its graphic and controversial nature, it has become a hit on the youtube and it is being banned for use in other countries.

The video can be found here.

I only made it a minute or two before I had to stop watching. It was right after the little toddler in the backseat asks "When are Mommy and Daddy gonna wake up?" as her parents lie dead in the front seat. I had to turn it off. It was too much. This video simply goes too far.

I'm all for showing teenagers the consequences of their bad habits. I am in full agreement that texting while driving is a horrible idea and should be stopped. However, graphic displays of death, grief, anguish, violence, and of a small child watching her parents die is not something that you can just put out as a PSA. The thoughts going through my head after watching this video had absolutely nothing to do with text messaging. I was mainly furious at whoever decided this horrifyingly intimate portrayal of tragedy and violence should be spread in a public forum. I was depressed. Depressed because I really don't need to be reminded that these things happen. It doesn't make me a better person. In fact, it just paralyzes me with fear. Every time I get in a car, that little girl will be asking when her parents will wake up.

I'm not even going to go into why this video has nothing to do with texting while driving. That's really not the point. Remember the ads during one big drunk driving campaign where they showed pictures of promising young people with families, etc. and then said "Killed by a drunk driver on so-and-so date"? Those struck a sad chord in me as well, but they didn't make me angry and depressed. It was short and to the point. The message was simple. Drunk driving leads to people dying. It was succinct. It was tasteful. It worked. I don't need to have graphic scenes of bloody tragedy shoved down my retinas to make me stop texting while driving. All they needed to show was a collision. It would have driven the point home just fine. But no, they have to make you witness all the horrible little details of death and dying.

Another reason why I'm so upset is because I know that this scene could happen regardless of the whole subject of texting. In fact, it happens on a daily basis. We know this, yet our mind decides not to dwell on that every time we leave the confines of our homes. If we were constantly reminded that death and tragedy are always around the corner, we would all be miserable hermits, looking over our shoulder and living out our short existence in constant fear of both the known and the unknown. So please stop reminding me.

As a nice little aside, this proves a very good point. Why is this video causing controversy over depictions of graphic violence when R-rated movies and violent video games are freely available all over the globe? The answer is very simple. Movies and video games are fake. They are meant to be fake. They were never meant to be accurate depictions of the real world. When a movie is violent and bloody, it is always over the top, unreal, and for the most part fun. Movie writers know that when th violence really becomes real, people won't watch. It hits too close to home. Because deep down in our psyche, we know that violence and tragedy are always around the corner. We don't want to be reminded of it. We are comforted in knowing that what's going on in the theaters isn't quite real. We won't ever have to deal with that violence. When someone makes a video that says "This will happen to you if...", all of a sudden things become a little too much for our minds to handle and we recoil from it.

I hope I can let this go now that I got if off my chest. On to happier things....

1 comment:

Benjamin said...

I'm sorry, but I really can't say I fully agree with you. I think that maybe having the little girl asking about her Mom and Dad is a little much, but the rest of it, I feel to be very appropriate. Don't text while driving campaigns never seem to permeate the thick skulls of teenagers. This video may. I say may, because I still don't think it will be effective.

People who are too young to drive are unlikely to be negatively affected by this sort of video. Had you finished watching it, no one actually dies. The fate of each person is left in the hands of the viewer. The video is just showing what kind of damage texting can cause, and it does it very effectively.

I give props to whoever made this PSA. I agree, the little girl was a bit much. The rest of the video--completely warranted.

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