Interest? Special.

Special awareness campaigns are really starting to piss me off, even though I just ranted about how I think gender identity ought to be part of the core curriculum in schools. I’m tired of hearing about child abuse and elder abuse and animal abuse and environmental abuse and abuse of the mentally ill and homosexual abuse and gender abuse and…I mean, we all know that basically, we’re jerks to each other when we let ourselves be. Why can’t we just have a big “stop being wankers and just love” campaign? That has nothing to do with Coca-cola ™ or Hallmark ™ or Disney ™?

If I had the budget, I’d do this huge media blitz that focussed on only one thing: “Help make it better”

I know there are folks out there who probably don’t remember an ounce of kindness ever having been shown to them their whole lives, and some who haven’t ever *been* shown kindness. The children of poverty, and violence, and neglect. Children of famine, disease, and loss. Children of abundance, children of means, children of “enough”.

Everyone is someone’s child.

Everyone deserves to be loved. Everyone deserves to feel safe. Everyone deserves to feel good.

What is so *difficult* about this? What is so *difficult* about being *good* to one another? Why does it take million-dollar budgets going to advertising agencies and planned ‘days of tolerance’ blah blah blah when the budget money could go to the local soup kitchen and we could all get our heads the hell out of our own arses and realise that if we’re not part of the solution, as the saying goes, we’re part of the problem.

Because choosing to do nothing is what gets us where we are in the first place, right?

I feel like a broken record, and I’m sorry about that. But after the seventh “be aware that elder abuse is WRONG” PSA following the fourth “bullying is WRONG” PSA which accompanies the standard “discrimination in the workplace is WRONG” PSA, I’m beginning to wonder who these PSAs are aimed at. Does “the public” really not know that hurting people and/or belittling people is wrong? Really? I think the greater problem is that there are people out there who don’t *care* that hurting or belittling people is wrong.

So can we just all bloody agree that causing pain is bad? Can we all just stop being wankers to each other? Can we just smarten the hell up and remember what it’s like to feel loved, and to feel safe, and to feel good, and to try to *spread that feeling around a bit*? It’s not rocket science. Start by smiling.

cenobyte
cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.

12 Comments

  1. I agree with you on principle. I want to see the “don’t be a jerk” PSA. However, the “don’t be a jerk to this segment of society” PSA serves a purpose. As you point out, everybody already knows the commandment “don’t be a jerk” and the creators of PSAs know that we know. The purpose of those PSAs, from what I’ve seen, is more to get people to stop ignoring abuse and respond by either confronting the abuser or ratting on them.

    Take for example the senior abuse PSA: the camera perspective is of the viewer peeking out of windows and between blinds at other people being jerks. The audience is clearly meant to identify with the camera perspective. The watcher sees the abuse and then closes the blinds, ignoring it. The voiceover then tells us to stop ignoring the problem. The message is not exactly “don’t be a jerk to seniors”. The message is “don’t ignore jerks abusing seniors: do something about it”.

    1. Which is why I pointed out that if we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem. Why not just take all the money that was put into that advert, and either advertise : “Don’t be a wanker, and if you see someone else being a wanker, do something unwankerish” or just give it to someone to pay for the care of seniors?

      I *understand the point of* and the point of *view* of these adverts. The message they SHOULD be giving is “if you’re not going to do anything, you’re a wanker too”.

      1. Advertising works. Saying that we should just give the PSA money to senior’s support organisations is like the CEO of McDonald’s saying, “We don’t need to advertise. Let’s take that money and make more burgers.” However common-sense these simplistic PSA messages seem to us, they are having a profound effect on some segment of society: people that either haven’t thought of it or are wavering on the edge of doing something about whatever injustice is being promoted.

        I think that more-than-balances the irritation we must suffer for being preached at. All that is not stopping us from smiling all the time, though.

        1. Kay, well, 1) McDonald’s DOESN’T need to advertise. They’ve done enough. They should be taking their advertising budget and putting it toward funding health and fitness programs.

          2) So, you’re saying that an advertising campaign that says: “Just be good to one another” is too deep for Joe Q. Public? That’s horrifying.

          3) Advertising only works when it’s done WELL. It’s not being done well when I can look at every special-interest group PSA out there and see the same damned thing done badly every time over and over again.

          1. Responses:
            1) Regardless of how you think McDonalds should spend their money, I think you get my point. Advertising works. When an image of a Big Mac is broadcast on TV, people are compelled to go out and buy Big Macs. The same is true of PSAs.

            2) No, Ezra, I’m not saying it’s too deep for Joe. If you look back on my comments, I said I want to see the “don’t be a wanker” ad. It would be great. But such an ad would never eclipse the need for issue-oriented PSAs, which educate the public on the fine points of wankerism and suggest actions to take when confronted with certain situations.

            3) Your criticisms of PSAs, that they are unoriginal, inept and insulting to one’s intelligence, are sins of the advertising industry in general. Why do you single out PSAs when a more likely target might be furniture store commercials and ads for razors?

            1. 1) I don’t believe that advertising works, actually. I believe that *marketing* works, but marketing and advertising are very different animals.

              2) I don’t think “the public” needs to be educated about special interest groups/situations. I think “the public” needs to get its head out of its arse and re-learn how to be good to one another, on a very basic level, one person at a time. That really doesn’t seem like it should be such a difficult thing to do.

              3) Because adverts for furniture stores and razors are not advocating a change in ethical activity.

  2. One problem with vague, universally-intended messages is that people will omit groups they don’t like or value.

    Even many of the nicest, least bigoted people would draw a line between “people to be treated nicely” and “people to not treat nicely.” That line might just have the most dangerous of criminals on the far side, but that isn’t very different from the anti-whatevers’ reasoning.

      1. Real difficult if you take it to its logical extreme, convert to Jainism, and spend the rest of your life horrified at the genocide your body commits each time you catch a cold. :)

        1. Sure, but who’s talking about taking it to its logical extreme? I’m talking about just basic kindness and empathy. I don’t understand why that’s bleeding rocket science.

          And wouldn’t you also have to be horrified at the germicide your body commits each time you *don’t* catch a cold?

          1. Without specifics people will draw the line wherever they want, whether it is at microorganisms due to their lack of sentience, or gay people because of the fear that they are harming society somehow.

            Well, getting a specific disease comes from having a lot of a specific kind of bug, right? If you don’t catch a cold they likely haven’t built up much of a stronghold. So when you are not sick it is more a kind of general mass murder. And you aren’t as aware of your body’s actions, so it would be easier to avoid thinking about.

            1. Yes, and that’s what I mean!

              It wouldn’t matter where people drew the line, as long as they were willing to Make Things Better regardless of the lines, simply because a) it’s the Right Thing to Do; and b) We’re All In This Together.

              I don’t think that folks what adhere to Jainism avoid thinking about things…

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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