The ad agency The Brooklyn Brothers put together a PSA for the UN anti-landmine campaign. The spot (quicktime) begins with shots of a girls soccer game, aimed squarely at the heart of middle-class Americans. After a goal, one of the girls gets blown up by an unexploded landmine.
No one will air it, and although I strongly think it should be aired, I understand the reluctance. On the other hand, how else do you convince most Americans to put aside their callousness? I have long thought that the health of the nation would be improved with a required year abroad for 18-year-olds. Peace Corps, Christian mission — heck, I might even be willing to allow for military duty to count; anything to let people become informed patriots, proud of what Americans do well, and knowledgeable enough to be able to respect other nations and cultures.
Many Americans still consider the life of an American child to be more valuable to that of a non-American. If that’s patriotism, I’ll gladly take up the mantle of traitor. Yes, the ad hits you over the head with it, but it delivers the message clearly.
As the UN notes, “six countries that have not joined the mine-ban treaty still hold an estimated 180 million stockpiled landmines.” Maybe, after seeing the commercial, Americans will recognize this as a problem and decide to act. After all, the new government of Afghanistan has signed on, after our invasion. I can think of at least one of those six that thoughtful Americans should consider invading and occupying, in the name of democracy.
Joi Ito posts about the PSA and notes that he sees this as another example of how bloggers create a kind of third channel for video. I think he is right, and a combination of factors — cheap consumer video cameras and video phones, cheap and free editing software, broadband penetration, tightening restrictions on what can be seen on TV, and a growing awareness of the internet as an alternative channel — provide new opportunities for creating and distributing video content. The weak link remains servers that get killed by providing video content.