Were I a fighting man, I’d blow smoke in your face
Check this shit out (fig. 1), boys and girls: Smoking is dangerous. You know, like guns.
Can we all just agree that the anti-smoking organization Truth is a smug, self-important group that isn’t necessary to anybody? It seems to me they’re more interested in patting themselves on the back for their brilliantly conceived and executed messages of irony than anything else.
Who knows — maybe I’m wrong and they’re respected, expert lobbyists who do great, groundbreaking work in Washington to lead the effort to crack down on Big Tobacco. But if their lobbying effort is anything like their television campaigns, most of Washington probably views them as the annoying college freshman who has spent a semester on campus and comes back home for semester break to inform the rest of the family of all the worldly things they’ve learned and how wrong Mom and Dad are about everything.
I’ve hated Truth’s TV spots for as long as I can remember. They seem to fancy themselves as some sort of guerrilla public service announcement army, in which the tactic is to strike a public location and capture the public reaction (it’s more of a non-reaction, if you ask me) on low-quality videotape. In one commercial, they crash a hotel and put hanging messages on the doors of all the guest rooms, saying that tobacco over some given period has killed as many people as there are in the hotel.
In another, they put an army of crying baby dolls crawling all over a city street, with a note that says something like this many babies are ill-affected by smoking or something. More recently, they put arms and legs of dummies into public outdoor trash cans, with a message that there are more whatever-cigarette-death-statistic in whatever-time-period than in all the public trash cans in Manhattan. (I’d quote statistics, but I surely don’t remember and, besides, do you honestly care?)
Always in these ads, there’s video footage of passersby seeing these messages, taking them in, and then an asterisk (*) popping up next to their head, because “(*) knowledge is contagious.” Thank God we have Truth to enlighten us.
Truth’s latest campaign features a guy named “Derrick,” who walks into a series of gun stores and asks for “light” or “ultra-light” bullets, using the logic that if you can get “light” or “ultra-light” cigarettes (which are deadly, see), you should be able to do the same with bullets (which — whoa! — are also deadly). Give me a break. This “scathing” and “biting” irony is so “brilliant” and “subversive” that I’m choking on it. Or maybe it’s the two packs I smoked today. (That was Truth-style sarcasm, folks; I don’t smoke.)
Here’s my message to Truth: Screw you. Get over yourselves. Honestly, is there anybody in this country that doesn’t already know that, gee, smoking is bad for me and might put me at risk for lung cancer and heart disease and emphysema and all that other bad stuff? If such people exist, they’re not going to be persuaded by the likes of the oh-so-scathing commentary of Truth.
Cigarettes: It do what it do. If you don’t already know that, I hope Truth educates you with their brilliantly irony.