PSA Efforts Jut Out

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Wow. Sorry to be such a downer.

Known around the office as "The Week Not Even the Blithe Status Quo of Commercial Entertainment Could Keep Out Life's Grim Pall," last week saw a trio of PSAs worth commending for their varied approaches to stirring viewers' consciences.

TS Eliot once wrote "Human kind cannot bear very much reality," an apt descriptor of our age, where even if you take pains to avoid fixating on the ills of the world the nastiness of current events wafts through the air like leftover fish someone microwaved in the office. Sometimes it's better not to confront this stuff head-on for fear of debilitating feelings of powerlessness.

But as a reminder, there are many with even less power. The first item we'll look at, a campaign for Amnesty International U.K. out of Drugstore, urges opting out of government-sanctioned torture the same way you'd beg off an email list you've subscribed to and long since lost interest in. Of course, the theme of the campaign, unsubscribing, insinuates you've subscribed in the first place, and any budding Baby Doc who'd join this club qualifies as a grade-A sadist. In the webfilm, as a prisoner crouches hooded on cardboard boxes the torturer calmly chats to his daughter, as if he's just got to wrap up some reports before he can head home to the family. Really, he's got to polish off the cover letter on a fax of pain and send it off to his victim via fist. But there's surprising depth here, leading to questions. Are we, in our cloistered daily lives, to be considered as stand-ins for the professional pain artist? Are we guilty too? How do we distance ourselves personally from the actions of our governments we may disagree with? If anything, that burden's a strong call-to-arms. There's a petition on the site if you're already feeling pangs. Second, we saw the latest iteration of the Workplace Safety Insurance Board's preventable accident series out of DraftFCB, Toronto and directed by Peter Darley Miller. Previously folks mangled in the workplace rose again to absolve the boogeyman of circumstance from the responsibility for their 'accident.' This time, it's a build-up to the shocker. There's something, and maybe it's just in the acting, that gives these spots a tinge of the daytime technical college advertisement, adding to the feel you've been thrust into a B-grade horror movie posing as a commercial. But they work. A colleague told us she measured her every step home after seeing the chef's whoopsie with a vat of boiling grease. To discuss this article, visit the Creativity Forums.
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