Thursday, February 01, 2007

Alert Status Red

Throughout time, there have always been odd coincidences. On the bigger scale, you have David Bowie and Bing Crosby singing "Little Drummer Boy," or the British and French working together for the first time in the Crimean War. Of course, there are smaller odd combinations, such as taking the wrong drink at Starbucks (sorry confused-looking Asian girl, but don't fret - your drink sucked, so you’re welcome whilst you enjoy my cafĂ© mocha) or reading Hunter S. Thompson at the School of Theology's library. I have propped myself in here with the haggard looking friends of Jesus to do some work, but I can't not discuss what happened in Boston yesterday. It seems as if some great satirist put his work into action and everyone is taking it like it's Death of a Salesman.

If you are not aware, there was a terrible bomb scare all over Boston, spilling into Somerville, and getting as close to me as the BU Bridge. I guess I would have been scared if I didn't hear of the bomb threats until around 4 PM, when the truth started to come out. I just got the tail end of, "the devices, these...hoax devices, seem to have a similar characteristic that...seems to show that they are of the some unified front." What was that image?



To say that I almost shit my pants when that came on my tv would be an understatement. It's simply a Mooninite, a Space Invader-esque character from the College cult show on Cartoon Network's [adult swim] programming block, Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The heavy irony here is that they are invading Earth from the Moon to take our planet over. “Cartoon terrorists take their mission off the screen an into reality…more at 11.”

I watched in gleeful joy as the local news stations had such "breaking news" as the "hoax devices" are from a show called "Aqua Team Hunger Forces," pulling production assistants from the booth to try and explain what's going on. The young chap called it "guerilla marketing," while the anchor goes "guerilla...indeed," before using his Stern Face and staring down the barrel of the camera.

Every bit of this coverage is humiliating. The constant repeating clip of the Boston bomb squad water cannoning the "explosive." Helicopter shots of a panicked Boston, hiding in fear from glorified Lite-Brites. Mayor Menino threatening "whoever did this" (did what?) with two to five years in prison. The anchors having to swing twenty minutes of tv time out of a toy. It was surreal.

This campaign has been going on with no problem in other, larger cities without the sense of inherent panic. When someone thinks of terrorism, doesn't Boston fall somewhere below Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, who had no problem with this advertising? What really shocked me was all of the bluster being thrown about by the officials of Boston and Massachussets. The use of a term like "hoax devices" certainly makes it seem as if this was the desired outcome of the marketing. "Let's totally think people are doing to die! Awesome! That’ll get our name out there!”

We have ventured onto a weird cross section of generational gaps and national security. Most people here at BU would probably consider this to be laughable. Here we are, so stricken by fear that we immediately panic when cartoon characters are being lit at night in various points all over Boston. "But Manton," you say, "they placed these 'devices' all over heavily populated areas of Boston including interstate overpasses and T stations!" Yes - it's an advertisement. Where do you want them placed, back alleys, trashcans, the fucking desert (ie the Garden during a Celts game).

Two people have been arrested for putting the terror devices up all over town. You can view the amazing interview on YouTube, where they discuss the history of various hair styles and their origins instead of fielding “proper” questions. One reporter quips "are they going to take this seriously?" Why should they? Why are you? So these guys might get martyred because of an easy-to-assume media who get their viewer ship by terrifying the public blew up (pardon the pun) a mix-up?

Who can you blame in this situation? Clearly someone will have to be to blame, and it looks like it will be these two schleps and Time Warner, who owns Cartoon Network, the show, and therefore the ad campaign. They had a wonderful statement that explained their sorrow that the advertising pieces could be mistaken for bombs. They did not apologize for putting them up, but simply that they were mistaken for combustibles.

This is an embarrassment, and new governor Deval Patrick doesn't like having the egg on his face. They have already published how much money Boston had to spend yesterday, so Time Warner will foot that bill. The over dramatization is in full effect; people were "fearful" and given a grave disservice from not being allowed on roads and public transportation. The media will drop buzzwords and phrases like "hoax" and "...in a post-9/11 world" while flashing NEWS ALERTS that transpire to nothing.

This is the culture we live in, folks. Dominated by fear and insulated from the dangers of light-up cartoon characters who happen to "give the finger." Every article or piece of news condemned the wrong people. The only people to blame are those who overreacted. Put a twenty-year-old kid with the cops and the entire problem is diffused immediately. Send out one bomb squad, figure out what it is, go around town and take down the rest if permits weren't officially offered. Slap on the wrist, we all go home.

No, instead, we have a big hairy mess from people overreacting who place no blame on themselves. In fact, it's the opposite. Good job Boston for responding so well to a terrorist situation! Could have used the help a couple of years ago. But now we can sleep easy as every neon light bulb and walk/don't walk sign is taken from the city, keeping us safe and snug and secure. I blame light bulbs. If we can't plug in lights to advertise things, then, well, Edison-ists win.

God Bless America!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you wanted to blow shit up, would you put a bunch of lights on it and sit it around for a few weeks to let people notice it?

I never thought I'd say it, but New York seems extraordinarily sane right now.

-- e.

Anonymous said...

some would argue that all advertising is a form of terrorism

jeff d

and for those wanting to try their own, check out http://graffitiresearchlab.com/?page_id=6#video

Luke said...

I think the best part is that everyone is commending BPD for their "quick" reaction - when these fucking things have been up for like 3 weeks. Wait, no, the press conference was the best, but thats pretty good too.

Westie said...

Just so you know this was front page on bbc.co.uk. Not that fact that there were possible bombs in Boston, but that the city of Boston was 'paralyzed' by an advertising campaign. Now the Brits KNOW we're stupid...