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November 14th, 2007
09:15 pm
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"..."

[INFOHAZARD]
WARNING: Probably safe for work. NOT safe for brain.


I am sorely tempted to say that if this television commercial [video] doesn't make your skin crawl, there is something fundamentally wrong with you as a human being.*

I admit I could be oversensitive here because my wife is a chef. But this one [video] seems just as creepy.

It's not the violence so much as the context. These aren't action-movie bad guys being sniped or exploded half a football field from the camera. They are people built up as people, and the fourth-wall breaking provides just enough cognitive dissonance to let the consequences hit you between the eyes. They really are very effective ads.

If you don't have the time or stomach for the videos themselves, here's some brief background info.

--
* This isn't as hyperbolic as I'd like it to be. We really are not meant to be desensitized to the extent that such well-done simulation of human suffering can be brushed off. When our empathy atrophies enough to do so, we have become monsters. And, dude. I say that as a dragon.

Current Location: ~spiral
Current Mood: shockeddisturbed
Current Music: Steely Dan, "Do It Again"
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(41 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:ceruleanst
Date:November 15th, 2007 06:16 am (UTC)
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What really bothers me is the blame-the-victim message. It's one thing to tell people to be careful; it's another to say "there are no accidents." The device of having the characters talk about their fate as if it's their plan for the weekend is a very clever way to communicate a dubious message, which is that everything that happens to you is something you've essentially decided to do by not being brilliant enough to prevent it. Responsible people remember they're omniscient, calculate the trajectories of all the molecules in the universe, and choose not to make their loved ones suffer, tsk tsk! ...Fvck you, Yoda, there is Try, and sometimes things happen that you can't do anything about. To even hint that these people deserved what they got is horrible.
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From:baxil
Date:November 15th, 2007 06:28 am (UTC)
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Half-agreed. They're careful in the commercials to both point out something the worker did wrong, and something that the employer did wrong, that contributed to the incident.

But, yes, it's very much an ad from the "scared straight" school of moral hazard.

Also n.b.: I'd find it more disturbing in the sense you mention if this were an American ad, but part of the context I viewed it in is that this comes from Canada -- where things like worker's comp and nationalized health care are taken as givens. I'd be interested in data points here from the Canucks among us.
(Deleted comment)
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From:jolantru
Date:November 15th, 2007 06:24 am (UTC)
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My brains just went "wtf".

And yes, it is creepy. Not sure if they were going for the 'shock' value (which many agencies seem to be using these days).
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From:jolantru
Date:November 15th, 2007 06:29 am (UTC)
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Something you might find interesting...

http://community.livejournal.com/abandonedplaces/1165765.html

I know, it's not really related to the topic per se... but the concept feels similar.
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From:ceruleanst
Date:November 15th, 2007 06:32 am (UTC)
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Also, I want to thank you for finding an example of something truly worthy of the assertion "if this television commercial doesn't make your skin crawl, there is something fundamentally wrong with you," because all week I've been seeing people say pretty much the same thing, but they're talking about sexy furries dancing around and drinking fizzy orange juice, and that really makes me afraid of people too.
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From:packbat
Date:November 15th, 2007 11:38 pm (UTC)
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I, for one, would like to apologize for posting that link the way I did. It was thoughtless, and, in truth, not even reflective of my objections to it.
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From:hafoc
Date:November 15th, 2007 06:43 am (UTC)
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Nope... not gonnna watch it. It would just make me angry. Am I the only one who gets offended when people try to avoid reason and jerk me around by calculated attacks of screechy, mindless emotionalism? It isn't emotion that bothers me, it's the malicious, emotionless attempt to pull MY emotional levers. If you're going to hit me with emotion, it had damned better be HONEST emotion.
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From:eclective
Date:November 15th, 2007 07:06 am (UTC)
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I'm honestly afraid to watch it. So many PSAs terrified me as a kid... scenes of children screaming because their family failed to check the smoke alarm batteries... ones that weren't even explicitly showing harm to people creeped me out. There's this one we had here in England up even until not too long ago, involving making sure food is cooked properly on the barbecuem that involves someone slicing open a sausage that's raw in the middle and being about to eat it... those things put nightmares into my head as a child. Extremely effective, though.

Edited at 2007-11-15 07:07 am (UTC)
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From:taral
Date:November 15th, 2007 07:22 am (UTC)
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D:
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From:baxil
Date:November 15th, 2007 07:56 am (UTC)
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Alright ... I keep seeing that smiley, but this is the first time it's shown up directly on my journal, so I have to ask.

What the hell does D: mean?

I'm conditioned to read smileys with the eyeograph following the mouthograph as "left-handed smileys": tilt your head in the reverse direction to interpret it. So logically "D:" is a giant frown. But by conventional usage, "D:" seems to indicate amusement and/or positive reaction.
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From:arcturax
Date:November 15th, 2007 07:56 am (UTC)
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Maybe it's just my background, but I laughed at both of these. The guy getting blown up and falling off the building was funnier though. But otherwise they looked every bit as fake as those 80's slasher or thriller movies like Nightmare on Elm street and whatnot I saw as a kid where horrible stuff like that happened and looked just as corny and fake.

I remember when I was in elementary school they showed us a street crossing and bicycle safety video and at one point this guy on a bike hits a car head on and goes tumbling head over heels across the car that struck him. The entire class roared with mirth for about 5 minutes and we all got detention for it too. Maybe I just come from a generation jaded by bad horror movies :P
From:silussa
Date:November 16th, 2007 12:00 am (UTC)
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I remember the reaction of my Driver's Ed class to the Ohio Highway Patrol safety films (for those who may never have seen them, they use live shots of automotive accidents...bodies included. Gruesome stuff).

much of the class thought they were hilarious. I still don't understand that reaction, myself.
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From:kadyg
Date:November 15th, 2007 08:53 am (UTC)

A Chef Speaks

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I saw the video and read the comments have to say that as a PSA it's pretty effective - for kitchen folks anyway: 1. DO NOT pick up the stock pot of hot oil and 2. ALWAYS lay down the damn kitchen mats no matter how much of a pain it is.

I didn't feel emotionally jerked around. Accidents happen and sometimes they happen to people with finacees and sometimes the happen to people with no one. (Actually, the bit about being head chef in a year felt more contrived than anything. Generally the leap from sous to head chef involves changing restaurants.)

And in case anyone wants to know - at my school we are flat out not allowed to carry the pots of oil around. We leave it on the stove with the heat off and when it's cooled the kitchen stewards dispose of it for us. So Bax is in no danger of ending up with a disfigured wife due to hot oil.
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From:dogemperor
Date:November 15th, 2007 09:05 am (UTC)
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....oh-kay...first commercial, hell, both commercials = creepy as fuck O_o

(And this is coming from someone who found "Forklift Driver Klaus" amusing.)
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From:nicked_metal
Date:November 15th, 2007 10:37 am (UTC)
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I'm not sure if my skin crawled, but I did find it quite uncomfortable. Then again, I live in Victoria, and we were bombarded with violent PSAs continuously for 5 or 6 years. When they switched to less violent PSAs, I found those more difficult, because I was waiting for the inevitable horror from the moment the ad started.
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From:kevynjacobs
Date:November 15th, 2007 10:54 am (UTC)
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bleah.

I didn't even watch the second one.

What Kady said... I got the message.
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From:sebboi
Date:November 15th, 2007 12:41 pm (UTC)
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Huh...

The assertion is, if I understand it correctly, that feeling nothing for these people - even in an exercise of empathy and hypotheticals - would make me a monster? Interesting.

Then I guess, I am a monster. I see the scenarios, and all I take away from it is the intended message. My survival is directly proportional to how much care I take in my actions and surrounding environment, at all times.

But as for the people? I think I am failing to connect on the level that they are 'working'. They're in their chosen place of employment, presumably aware of all that entails (what moron straps himself to highly explosive chemicals several dozen feet above the ground without proper understanding that the could, at the very least BLOW UP?) and through the culmination of situations that they are aware of, meet consequences.

I think I would be more 'moved' if it was a woman out shopping and walks in front of a bus, after loading her groceries into the back of her car. Or a child- well, adding adolescence and the lack of a grasp on ones situation makes ANYTHING the empathic equivalent of a ten-ton hammer, doesn't it?

I don't think I am a monster, though. Just acknowledged of the fact that there is risk in the work place. Risk held in check by safe practices and awareness.
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From:sebboi
Date:November 15th, 2007 12:45 pm (UTC)
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Oh, and a stalwart 'Survival of the fittest' kind of person. Not quite Darwinian... Like if Samuel Clemens and Nietzsche had a love-child with Annie Oakley?
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