Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one?

One of the things one becomes aware of as a libertarian is that most messages from politicians and government agencies are definitely not made with you in mind, because they are created to be appealing and persuasive to a public that, for the most part, is operating on ideological premises very different from your own. Nevertheless, I find it difficult to believe that I'm so out of touch that I'm unusual in being creeped out by this:

No, that's not a parody. To give credit where it's due, the production values are far superior to anything the government puts out here in Illinois.

(Hat tip: Radley Balko)

Did anyone explain to these people that the whole “omnipresent government surveillance watching your every move through its pitiless electronic eyes” motif doesn't really work when you want to portray something as, y'know, not horrifying? The fact that the voice-over is done in a creepy, soulless computerized monotone that sounds like HAL 9000's little sister makes it even better. Short of having the announcer add "AND BY 'BACK TAXES,' TOM, WE MEAN YOUR CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM, WHICH WE WILL HARVEST TO CONTINUE OUR HORRIFYING EXPERIMENTS ON THE NATURE OF HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS SO THAT WE MIGHT FURTHER EXPAND OUR GODLIKE TRANSHUMAN INTELLECTS," I'm hard-pressed to think of how this ad could be made even less likely to endear the government of Pennsylvania to me than it is already.

(An earlier draft of this post said "endear the government of Pennsylvania to anyone," but then I read the comments section of this article at Huffington Post.)

Here's what stuns me about this, even taking the frequent ineptitude of government into account: Mass media public relations material for an organization as large and bureaucratic as the government of a major U.S. state has to go past a lot of eyes before it ends up on TV. You'd think that at some point in the chain of people from the ad's creators to their superiors at the advertising agency to the people in the government who had to sign off on it that someone, somewhere, at some point would have suggested that an ad that looks like it comes from a dystopian future where mankind has been enslaved under the suffocating Orwellian rule of sinister, tax-hungry artificial intelligences might not play well.

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