Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Anti-Terror Advertising? or A Blatant Act Of Terror?

CTV: Graphic TV ad against terrorism a mystery
A high-budget television advertisement designed to dissuade potential suicide bombers is airing across the Middle East, but its mysterious makers are troubling some critics.
IHT: Backers are shadowy but message is clear in graphic TV ad against terrorism
The 60-second ad opens with a young boy seeing a man walk by in a crowded market. The man stops and exposes yellow explosives strapped to his body. The boy sees the bombs just before they go off, sending cars flying and people crashing through the windows of a cafe.

The ad then shows the aftermath: wreckage, weeping and fires. It ends with the words "Terrorism has no religion" in Arabic.
CTV again:
"If it's an Arab initiative it's a positive step, but why aren't they coming forward?" asked Sohail Raza of the Canadian Muslim Congress.

Raza said he's convinced the United States government is behind the $1-million ad, which he argued could breed mistrust among its intended target of would-be terrorists.
CTV has more; you can read the rest of the article if you wish.

But the following links lead to the another story -- all the same story, more or less -- about this "TV commercial aimed at thwarting terrorism". The story in question (which I quoted above, from the International Herald Tribune) was written by Anna Johnson of the Associated Press, and it first appeared in the October 10 edition of the IHT. It's been packaged differently here, there, and everywhere, in fact.

In chronological order (if I have this right)...

  • The International Herald Tribune
    Backers are shadowy but message is clear in graphic TV ad against terrorism

  • The Chicago Tribune
    Ad aims to defuse suicide bombers
    Slick, costly `made in America' production, shadowy funding may limit its influence

  • The Toronto Star
    Anti-terror ad hits Mideast networks

  • Toronto's Globe And Mail
    Graphic TV spot aims at Mideast

  • Florida's St. Petersburg Times
    Mysterious antiterror ad airs
    Some attribute the commercial to the U.S. government.

  • Kentucky's Lexington Herald-Leader
    Ad's goal to prevent suicide blasts

  • Olympia, Washington's The Olympian
    Anti-terror TV ads send clear message
    Sleek images lead some to believe U.S. involved

  • The Seattle Times
    War on terror's many fronts include television commercials

  • The Toronto Star again:
    TV ad aimed at would-be bombers
    Anti-violence message aired in Arabic
    U.S. denies role in graphic commercial

  • And the Houston Chronicle
    TV ad uses graphic images to discourage suicide attacks

  • What did you notice?

    Did you notice that most of the headlines are clearly trying to tell us what the ad is trying do, rather than what it portrays? I noticed that myself, and I thought it was a bit odd. Especially because I've seen the ad, and I think it's trying to do something very different.

    Did you also notice how many of the sub-heads hinted at something? Hmmmm...

    I thought it might be really dull to take a close look at the original and try to track the ways in which it was edited for various publications, so just to be on the dull side I've done an enhausting analysis which is too dull to include in this post.

    You can read my enhausting analysis later, if you read it at all. Right now, I want you to watch that video, watch it more than once if you can stand it, and tell me, am I wrong?

    This is what this so-called "anti-terror" video says to me:
    Who do you think we are?

    Here's a hint: We have lots of money -- enough that we can afford to spend a million dollars on a commercial that doesn't even try to sell a product.

    Who do you think we are?

    Here's another hint: We have access to the finest video special-effects labs in the world.

    Who do you think we are?

    Here's one more hint: We have an insatiable appetite for graphic violence in movies and video games. Just like this video.

    We wouldn't really mind if you got your brown ass blown through a plate glass window, or if you just got your brown ass blown to smithereens. In fact we'd sort of enjoy it. Over and over and over again, in slow motion. You know, "the time-suspension technique made popular in the 'Matrix' movies".

    Who do you think we are?

    And what do you think we mean when we say "Terrorism Doesn't Have A Religion"??

    Well here's your final hint: We're tired of Islamic terrorists getting all the publicity. So we've decided to buy some of our own.

    Now, think carefully ...

    Who do you think we are?
    But then, I'm accustomed to reading between the lines.

    Not that it takes much skill in this case!

    Want even more? CTV's Lisa LaFlamme has a video report here. And don't forget my exhausting analysis of the AP coverage.