What are the Chances of This Working?

This is easily the weirdest story I’ve read all week:

Remember the egg, the frying pan and the message? “This is your brain,” the ominous narrator told us before cracking an egg over the sizzling skillet. “This is your brain on drugs.” Public service announcements have changed a lot since that foreboding culinary lesson. They now include exploding cars, flying Matrix-style stuntmen and exceedingly dire messages like “Don’t Suicide Bomb.” A new, American-made PSA aimed at discouraging these deadly attacks is currently in production. The ad is slated to air as a 60-second spot on Iraqi television this summer.

Religious fanatics who want to martyr themselves won’t be deterred by a fucking commercial, guys.

(Does anyone else get the feeling that Bush thought of this idea himself?)

It’s a tall order considering that post-occupation Iraq is now rife with militant groups and plagued by increasing sectarian violence. In March alone there were an estimated 175 suicide bombings. There’s also the question of just who will be able to see the PSA. The cost of owning a TV is often prohibitive for the average Iraqi, and those who are affluent enough to get Iraq’s state-sponsored programs are not always thrilled by what they’re seeing.

Hey, the suicide bombing ad’ll probably be the most exciting thing they see all year. It certainly beats the shit out of Iraqi Idol or reruns of The 69 Thousand Dinar Pyramid.

Though there is the new, post-Saddam Iraqi Media Network (IMN), its $6-million monthly budget is provided by the United States and many local viewers feel that its positive reports on the U.S.-led war are simply propaganda so they turn to satellite TV instead. Those who are lucky enough to obtain a satellite dish can receive programs from all over the world as well as independent, Arab-run news channels like Al-Jazeera. And will the type of young man drawn to extremist groups be likely to sit around watching TV?

True enough. Stoner couch potatoes aren’t exactly known for their motivation. I have a tough time picturing them getting off their fat asses to attend Friday prayers, and I certainly can’t imagine them martyring their sorry falafel-filled asses.

Regardless, the Los Angeles-based production company 900 Frames and Lebanon’s EFXFilms think they can get through to whomever is watching with a slick, Hollywood-style PSA and plenty of pyrotechnics.

“Dude. Suicide bombing looks. So. Awesome.”

They recently transformed an industrial block in downtown LA into a busy Baghdad square, filled with fruit stands, shoe repair shops and rug dealers. At least 60 extras dressed in hijabs, kaffiyehs and polyester-wool blend slacks were herded onto the set to simulate an average shopping day. But there was hardly any Arabic spoken on this Baghdad street. Spanish, Punjabi and even Italian could be heard as extras gathered around the Kraft services table to munch on chips and guacamole.

I think they need a cute cartoon character in these ads to appeal to the youth demographic, like Sammy the Suicidin’ Squirrel or somethin’.

“Hey kids! You’d have to be NUTS to blow yourself up!!!”

When asked if he is Iraqi, Bidkar Ramos, an extra on the set, laughs. “No, I’m Chinese and Mexican,â€? he says. “Like most of these people, I’m just a look-alike.”

“Ha ha, white people think we all look the same! Funny cuz it’s true! Ha ha!”

Onlookers were later asked to stand back as the pyrotechnic crew blew up a poor old Yugo coupe and stunt men and women, padded under their Arab garb, were thrust into the air with ropes and pulleys to simulate the impact of a bomb exploding. “We all watch it on the evening news,” says 900 Frames partner Drew Plotkin, “but we’re using a 120-camera set up that was used in films like ‘The Matrix.’ It gives a frozen-in-time feeling. Instead of seeing a flash and ambulances racing to the scene, we’re showing the street right before the attack, during and right after. That will communicate the horror, the carnage, the human toll these attacks take on innocent civilians.”

I’m sure would-be suicide bombers around the country will stop right in their tracks and say, “Whoa, you mean people could get killed when I detonate this thing?”

There was an air of paranoia on the set last month even though the press were initially invited down to cover the 3-day shoot. Reporters and cameramen were banished to the perimeters of the scene and were kept in check by several crew members. They were also asked not to speak to the actors, extras or any of the Lebanese production team.

Betcha anything they were planning a suicide bombing.

Despite all the secrecy surrounding the project, NEWSWEEK has learned that the high-tech PSA will cost over $1 million to make and may even air in other Middle Eastern countries. This pricey and unorthodox attempt to subdue the violence is backed by a group of mystery donors.

A.k.a., Richard Mellon Scaife and the Reverend Moon.

“I call them an independent, non-governmental group of scholars, non political people,” says Plotkin. “Some may live in Iraq, some may live abroad. For a variety of different reasons—from safety concerns to wanting the focus to remain on the issue itself, they decided to remain anonymous.”

Doesn’t sound like they’re too confident the ad’s gonna work. Rather a waste of money if you ask me.

Gavin adds: They ought to have, like, this Iraqi teen walking into the falafel place with a dynamite belt, being all like, “Hey look, guys! I’m gonna go blow myself up in the marketplace.” And there’s this ‘wah-waah’ noise on the soundtrack, and all the other teens are looking at him like he’s a huge nerd. So he’s like, “What? I’m only trying to be cool!” And another kid says, “Suicide attacks aren’t cool, Abdul. They’re so…last year.” And the words flash on the screen: “Don’t blow it. Don’t be a suicide bummer.”

If that doesn’t work, I blame the naysayers


Comments: 29


Jeeeebus. That’s just unbelievable.
But then, if it works, maybe VW will start running those suidcide bomber ads there, too. I”m sure business will BOOM.
Hehe. Homonyms. Woooo, doggies.


Downtown LA? They couldn’t go the extra mile and film in Baghdad??

Oh. Right.

Given the overwhelming desperation of a person driven to suicide bombing, this doesn’t seem to stand a chance of making an impact, let alone the fact that no one will see it anyway.

Until it’s on Youtube. And then we’ll make fun of it even more.

I still think they should have gone with an anti-suicider sitcom, Everyone Loves Mahmoud.


Given the overwhelming desperation of a person driven to suicide bombing, this doesn’t seem to stand a chance of making an impact, let alone the fact that no one will see it anyway.

I know. It’ll be like those damn anti-alcohol ads that made you want to go out and GET TOTALLY WASTED!!!


I think it is a great idea! Look how effective those brain on drugs ads were!


I think it is a great idea! Look how effective those brain on drugs ads were!

I know. They made me wanna smoke pot while eating eggs.

Return of the Son of Some Guy

I don’t know what you mean. Using advertising to control the populace is incredibly effective. It’s the reason America has been drug free since 1995. Anyway, that’s what we were told in 1986 when the Feds decided to start spending mad tax dollars combating evil plants.

After spending those billions, year after year, how could there possibly be any drugs in America? It’s not like they grow on trees.


They now include exploding cars, flying Matrix-style stuntmen and exceedingly dire messages like “Don’t Suicide Bomb.�

And isn’t this self-defeating in that exciting footage might nudge impressionable minds off the fence?

If I’m a disaffected teen doofus (much like the one I was) with a long hot summer yawning before me and no immediate prospect of excitement except for the irritation of dealing with a seemingly endless supply of authority figures — now with 50% more short-tempered unwelcome racist American troops! — this spectacular option would make me go, “Holy fucking flying shit! That was incredible!”

It was like being absolutely forbidden to go to the no-alcohol early evening show added to the Incontinent Sphincters’ tour because the show was in a bar. Duh, of course I went.


If history is any guide, this ad will end up getting shown on PBS.

(Search for the part about Lee Shapiro).


Chinese and Mexican, huh? Couldn’t they actually find anyone whose family came from Iraq? Or any of the countries on the SAME FRICKING CONTINENT at least?


It’s hard work doing saturation advertising when the power isn’t on for more than a few hours a day.


(After inserting ‘intentionally’ before ‘self-defeating’ in my previous post) …

Having just had my favorite after-midnight supper of a scrambled egg on half an English muffin because I stupidly turned down a grilled veggie burger earlier, I was reminded of the main reason the fried-egg campaign was successful for people who eat at odd hours and particularly junkies. It spoke directly to their inevitable dreary, desperate task of feeding themselves but being incapable of finding anything more complex. I’ve never been an addict, but routinely was the go-to source for toast and egg supplies by my neighbors. (They were actually rich enough to buy me ten times over but had no idea whether their food supply was old or new, nor how to prepare anything else.)

To be as intentionally ineffective as the oppositely named.Don’t Be A Suicider campaign, the fried egg “brain” PSA would be replaced by a mesmerizing kaleidoscopic explosion of color and, eg, Oasis’ Hindu Times or something equally instantly catchy and dispensible with a pumped up bassline followed by a rapid, perfunctory reminder of the heartache this inevitably causes.


Teenage Suicide….Don’t Do It!


If you don’t talk to your kids about suicide bombing, who will?

Or how about this one:

Like father suicide-bomber, like son. Think about it, won’t you?


Actually to me it seems like this will be an encouragedment.

Potential Suicide Bomber #1: Have you seen this?
Potential Suicide Bomber #2: What?
Potential Suicide Bomber #1: Somebody suicide bombing in what looks like Los Angeles
Potential Suicide Bomber #2: Really?
Potential Suicide Bomber #1: Really!
Potential Suicide Bomber #2: Lets watch

(Watching the video)

Potential Suicide Bomber #1: We should also go do that!
Potential Suicide Bomber #2: Sure beats blowing up Baghdad.


Just Say No To Martyrdom!

Winners Don’t Strap Explosives To Themselves And Then Blow the Charges in Crowded Markets! (kind of wordy. Winners Don’t Commit Terrorism?)


Coming from the people who brought you the “gay bomb the enemy” strategy of warfare, nothing that the jokers in this administration say could possibly surprise me anymore.

Sometimes, I start to get the feeling that there are really big parties going on in D.C. which consist basically of a bunch of people going over to someone’s apartment, getting really, really stoned, and watching late night Showtime while eating boxes of Little Debbie snackcakes. It would explain a lot.


Little Debbie. My first true love. I think the Zebra Cakes (originally the Snack Cake) saved my life back in ’84.


My tax $ @ work. Lovely. Just toss ’em down the outhouse hole, doods. It’s simpler, and has the same result.


No, no, Marq, this is the work of A Shadowy Cabal of Mystery Donors, Inc. Purely private funding, which is about the only positive aspect of the whole sorry, misguided thing — the “brains” behind this turkey are going to spend their money for naught.

They would get a lot more value for their money if they backed a campaign involving Al-G’ruf the Crime Camel, with his signature line: “Help spit in the eye of suicide bombing!”


Smokey the Mullah says – “Only you can prevent suiciders!”


“There’s also the question of just who will be able to see the PSA. ”

No electricity in Baghdad makes that a special challenge.

I remember when this was being filmed in LA – I heard something on the radio during the morning commute, telling us not to be worried. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to check it out.

Wonder what they blew up?


That will communicate the horror, the carnage, the human toll these attacks take on innocent civilians.�

Umm, but isn’t that the whole idea of a suicide bombing? These people are like kids who want to start playing the board game without reading the rules! Look, lemme help you out here. They are not planning a bombing the outcome of which is like a pinata where everybody gets toys and candy. Kinda think the carnage and the human toll is precisely the effect they’re going for.

They now include exploding cars, flying Matrix-style stuntmen and exceedingly dire messages like “Don’t Suicide Bomb.�

Geez, that’s awkward. I know, they can turn anything into a verb these days, but “suicide bomb” is a whole new level in craptacular construction. And gawd only knows how that’s gonna translate into the local vernacular. Probably something like “Don’t use a bomb to explode the bodies of the martyrs” or something. Maybe next they’ll do a PSA calling attention to all the bad things that can happen when you fire an RPG in an urban environment. I’m sure if these unruly Sunni kids would just realize that they’re doing HARM to people of other ethinc groups, tribes, sects and sometimes even hurting their American liberators, well those kids would think twice, straighten up and fly right….



Give a hoot, when handling automatic rifles and cornered by your American liberators, don’t shoot!


They should make a PSA out of those vids they filmed at Abu Ghraib of the beatings, rapes, torture and murder of prisoners. The voiceover can say, “Here’s what will happen to you if the Americans catch you before you suicide bomb. Any questions?” That’ll motivate ’em, though not necessarily to do the right thing.


“That will communicate the horror, the carnage, the human toll these attacks take on innocent civilians.â€?”

Not to mention the obscene fact that NO ONE IN IRAQ fails to comprehend the horror, the carnage, and the human toll these attacks take on innocent civilians.

I mean, how fucking condescending can these people be? They’re staging fake Bruce-Willis-style Hollywood special effects to communicate “the horror” to people who live with the actual horror everyday?

Do they honestly think the people in Iraq don’t already get that part?

It’s unspeakable.


Yay, conservative problem-solving techniques…

“Don’t think, just throw money.”

Would it kill these people to, I don’t know, do some fucking RESEARCH? If they would just find out why these impressionable kids are killing themselves and others then maybe they could formulate a genuinely effective campaign to eradicate this kind of activity.

Why are conservatives so phobic of facts and research?


They’re staging fake Bruce-Willis-style Hollywood special effects to communicate “the horror� to people who live with the actual horror everyday?

Yeah, I’m kinda of the opinion that they “get” it already. A couple of months ago, Iraqi blogger Riverbend posted a story about how one of her cousins had been down at the local market. Some car bombs went off, and there was a lengthy period of time where tha family sat around worrying that something bad had happened to him. He finally got home, more-or-less unhurt, but he had been close enough to the explosions that he was well-splattered with blood that wasn’t his. He had seen various limbs and parts strewn about. yeah, I think they “get” it.


The MSNBC story mentions that the film crew blew up a Yugo. They obviously reckoned that, since Iraq is, like, Abroad, they should use, like, Foreign cars. The thing is, though, as you can see on any news report from Iraq the country is full of clapped-out old American cars.


How are they even able to watch teevee ads with only 4 hours of electricity a day? Al Jazeera running these? Somehow I don’t think so.


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