Have you seen that ridiculously prolonged, gory Welsh PSA about the dangers of texting while driving? Probably — it’s already managed to amass over six million hits and counting. Personally, it isn’t as outre as I’d like: it dwells too long on ambulances and grim faces. But the gratuitous splatter factor is high.
Over at the Guardian, Peter Bradshaw muses on the PSA as “an unacknowledged Brit horror genre of remarkable ingenuity and power”: “Its official licence to shock and upset and to unleash one-off moments of horrible violence and inspired nastiness which in any other context would be condemned as gratuitous or even pornographic.” Bradshaw asks commenters for other examples of this covert genre, and they’ve provided a YouTube goldmine. With thanks, here are five of their best suggestions of completely inappropriate PSAs against various forces from the UK and, in one instance, Australia.
1. Terrorism is bad. Set to “Cat’s Cradle” for maximum bathos, this well-intentioned ’70s ad was created to decrease the Irish Troubles by encouraging people to give information to stop the cycle of violence. It is, however, dubious as to whether it was necessary to show not once but twice people getting machine gunned down. Chuck Norris would approve.
2. Stopping on the road is bad. “This is Michael. Today he’s going to hit his girlfriend’s head so hard, she ends up with permanent brain damage.” The whiplash slo-mo here is truly terrifying, and tastelessly set to a track that, like a heartless DJ, scratches back and forth to “do that to me one more time.” It’s supposed to encourage seat belt use, but it seems like “don’t drive stupidly” would be a better message.
3. Drinking after a soccer game is bad. Mates have a friendly game, go drinking, and the car flip-over that ensues is “Transporter”-level insane. Also incredibly ostentatious about killing small children in the name of getting the point across.
4. You could just be sitting on a fence and DIE. This is supposed to be discourage reckless speeding, but what it’s really like is like “28 Days Later” as a PSA. At the moment when a girl’s screams start coming out like a wonky radio transmission, it really does become a zombie movie.
5. AIDS is very, very bad. In this vintage “use protection” ad, the Grim Reaper bowls. And people are the pins. Watch for the baby that flies into the air. Spare!