Friday, February 02, 2007

You Do Know That It’s Only In Cartoons That People Have X-Ray Vision, Don’t You?
I asked an officially impertinent question last night, partly as an experiment, partly because I wanted an answer. The subject was the Boston cartoon scare, to which I will stipulate that the two dolts who set it off are being over charged, perhaps partly out of embarrassment. Though reimbursing the security budget, tight to begin with, is probably not entirely an unimportant consideration. My question was, Would you like to be the first responder at the next incident, wondering if it's some dumb kid pulling a copy cat stunt or if it's a psychopath with access to explosives making believe it's a copy cat stunt?

Well, uncool kid that I have ever been, the question was immediately ruled uncool and boooo-rrrriiing. As such the question was unanswered. Now, what are we to make of the whole thing. The ruling of the student council is that those old farts in Boston should have known that the thing was a promotion of the coool Turner Corporation product. Well, duh!, if that’s still being said anywhere.

First, not everyone is au courant with the ever changing sands of corporate cool culture. This is probably truest for people old enough to be in charge of somewhat important things.

Second, if the authorities were familiar with the trivia of the Cartoon Network how could they have used that fact to look on the other side of the signs to make certain that there wasn’t something dangerous there?

Third, so what about your volunteering for the fire department or other first responders outfit?

And , last and probably least, really cool people don’t look to giant cable TV companies to find counter culture? Cable is not cool with people who really know cool. It will not be on TV.

Maybe it is a matter of culture. I’d have liked to continue asking questions. I’d have liked to know if there were any people who worked as first responders on the threads were the question was posed. How did they feel about it? Or maybe it’s really a matter of class. Did any of the white collar people and students have members of their families or friends who might be the first person on the scene the next time some genius from the corporate world decides to do something like this without notifying the authorities that those signs are just a gimmick. And may I suggest that there be a mechanism set up for corporate imbeciles who pull stunts like this to give official and legal notification of the appropriate authorities who just might have more important things on their plate than Aqua Teen.

There might have been first responders or family members of the same, maybe they agreed with the consensus or maybe they didn’t want to risk asking. I don’t know. That’s another question I’ve got about the blogs. How free are people to ask questions? I'm through with highschool.

I think your analysis is too colored by your anti-corporatism. I've got no love for Turner Broadcasting, but in all of this they have done absolutely nothing wrong (at least, the Cartoon Network hasn't -- CNN's scaremongering and refusal to ask basic questions about the story, while less egregious than that of Fox News, was terrible).

The issue here has nothing to do with coolness or recognition of obscure cartoon characters; if it was this would have erupted as a problem two weeks ago and in all ten of the cities which had the exact same ad campaign. The problem in Boston's isolated case was that the powers that be at City Hall did not bother to ask any questions about the "bombs" that were plainly visible around the city. Boston's mayor ought to be run out of town on a rail for wasting $1 million of the taxpayers' money shutting down the city over literally less than nothing, to say nothing of his litigious threats and the ridiculousness of the arrests in the 'case'.

It's the job of first responders to deal with situations like this, and this can't possibly be the first time since September of 2001 that a false alarm has been called in by paranoid citizens who see threats in the form of cardboard boxes or shoes hanging from telephone wires. What amazes me is the continued use in commentary of terms like "hoax" and "gimmick", which imply that somehow the attempt was made to create a sensation by using signs that resembled weapons. These weren't red sticks with wires coming out of them duct-taped together with a big clock -- they were ordinary ads.
midwest product,in Boston only one of the ads was placed in a position where it was dark enough for the lighted cartoon character to be seen. I understand in other places that they were not placed near bridges and a hospital, exactly the places you might expect to be targets for attacks.

My real question is why the leftist blogs where I asked this question were almost uniform in not only their dismissal but angry and abusive dismissal.

I love to have fun and don't think I'm humorless (though I do actually like my humor to be funny, call me old fashioned) but this is turning into a pretty depressing system of conformity and class based idiocy. I'm on the left, but it's not that kind of a left.
It's true that placement matters, but as I understand it the offending ads were in place for two full weeks in Boston before the hoopla began. If that's so, it seems likely that many police officers and other city officials saw them over that timespan and correctly judged them to be non-threats. This story has an image of one of the ads in a space that is not dark enough for the lighting to be obvious. To me at least, it still appears entirely nonthreatening.

But as to your more important point, I think part of the appeal of the internet for many people is that it allows them to join a flock of people with whom they already agree completely. That clearly holds no appeal for you, but it is reality. That an internet venue shares (broadly speaking) your political views doesn't mean they are throwing their views out there for an honest discussion. I think your joke about wanting humor to actually be humorous reveals an idealism that is not shared by many (maybe most) bloggers.

Certainly my first reaction to your post was, essentially, to feel utterly dismissive of it. To me it feels obvious that this was a non-threat; that immediately made it a danger that I would think that anyone who didn't find it obvious was a fool. I'm guessing the case was the same with the people you encountered in asking your question. Sadly, I must admit that my first real attempt to think the issue through rather than go with my gut was in adding my comment to your post, but upon reflection I still feel that you are incorrect in judging Turner to be at fault rather than the Boston authorities.

Also, almost as an aside, I think there are actually quite a few parallels between blogs and high schools. Cliquishness, the way that once a blog/student becomes popular they are far less likely to be judged on merit and are difficult to knock off their pedestal, self-identification as rebels outside the mainstream, judgementalism, really the list goes on and on.
I think you have some good points, however, the question isn't what anyone else thought when they saw them, it's what the authorities thought.

Would you feel differently if you knew it has been reported in the press that while this was unfolding the ad agency told the "artists" to not tell anyone and that it took hours for those who knew what was going on to tell anyone in the Boston city government or other agencies? And then the two goof balls treated it as one big joke when they appeared before the press?

There are some things in life that are serious and this is one of them. And the question about repeats is important because now that these "artists" are heros to a bunch of adolescent geeks I can assure you that the chance of many more incidents is quite high. And, as the question points out, one of those might mask explosives or other materials as a prank.
I think your two 'goof balls' are the only two figures in all of this who have emerged holding onto even a shred of their own dignity. I don't particularly feel the onus is on the ad agency here to inform the police that some harmless ads with battery-powered LEDs were not, in fact, nuclear bombs poised to bring the city to its knees.

Many of your concerns seem to revolve around the idea of a future event, but again it seems like the risk of that happening is not due to the ad campaign but rather the ridiculous response of the Boston authorities. Had this been treated properly it would have been a non-event, not even worthy of a paragraph on page eight of the local section in the Boston Globe. Now every hack copycat knows exactly where they can go to get a hilarious response. It's Mayor Menino, not Turner Broadcasting, that's guilty of crying wolf here.
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