Thursday, February 01, 2007

From Hunger

The ten-alarm "terrorist" fire that the city of Boston thought it had on its hands yesterday turned out to be....

...a low-rent advertising campaign for Cartoon Network's Aqua Teen Hunger Force. As Toon Zone observed:

Just a mere six years ago it would have been unthinkable for a television cartoon to cause a citywide highway shutdown. Thanks to post-September 11th paranoia, our police are now summoned to settle issues that would previously have seemed asinine. Recently Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block decided to promote cult series Aqua Teen Hunger Force with electronic billboards placed around ten major cities in the United States including San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, and most notably Boston. These advertisements featuring series antagonist Ignignokt prompted the Boston police department to shut down many of the city’s major thoroughfares on Wednesday.

The question that this crisis initially raised was whether or not these billboards were bombs. That should have been cause for caution, yet the police and the city government made no effort to research the cartoon character on the “bombs,” nor whether a license may have been obtained for their placement.

The second question brought up was whether or not this “hoax” was committed by a “some teenager,” or by Cartoon Network. This matter was quickly settled when Cartoon Network’s parent Turner Broadcasting issued a statement claiming responsibility for the advertisements. Massachusetts Representative Ed Markey placed the blame on Adult Swim....

Let's be clear here. These were advertisements for a frigging cartoon show. My sixteen-year-old could have clued the city fathers to what the hell was going on in five minutes. But these paranoid folks decided to do no research, do no thinking, and hit the panic button.

We're ruled by idiots. And Ed Markey, apparently, is one of them.


Anonymous said...

i'm sorry but that is THE dumbest take on this unfortunate situation i have heard yet. sure there is plenty of blame to go around, but to think that minds would be set at ease because it was recognized as a known cartoon character means that you are completely ignorant to the facts of the case. this was an electronic device attached to an I-beam under a bridge. no one (not even you or me) would immediately recognize these things for what they were when they are 30 feet over your head under a bridge. at that point it is a suspicious object plain and simple.

you realize that the Lockerbie bomb was made to look like a boom box...

Steve Hulett said...

It would have been good if there had been a little, ahm, transparency here. (Like the company giving a heads up to Boston? Other cities?)

OTHOH, what laws were broken? And would it be better if elected officials don't run around bloviating quite so much?

Steve Hulett said...

Kevin Pollack's take on yesterday's deal:

1. Attorney General Martha Coakley needs to shut up and stop using the word "hoax." There was no hoax. Hoax implies Turner Networks and the ATHF people were trying to defraud or confuse people as to what they were doing. Hoax implies they were trying to make their signs look like bombs. They weren't. They made Lite-Brite signs of a cartoon character giving the finger.

2. It bears repeating again that Turner, and especially Berdovsky, did absolutely nothing illegal. The devices were not bombs. They did not look like bombs. They were all placed in public spaces and caused no obstruction to traffic or commerce. At most, Berdovsky is guilty of littering or illegal flyering.

3. The "devices" were placed in ten cities, and have been there for over two weeks. No other city managed to freak out and commit an entire platoon of police officers to scaring their own city claiming they might be bombs. No other mayor agreed to talk to Fox News with any statement beyond "no comment" when spending the day asking if this was a "terrorist dry run."

4. There is nothing, not a single thing, remotely suggesting that Turner or the guerilla marketing firm they hired intended to cause a public disturbance. Many have claimed the signs were "like saying 'fire' in a crowded theater." Wrong. This was like taping a picture of a fire to the wall of a theater and someone freaked out and called the fire department.

* * * *
Now. Maybe some of the above is wrong. And if Boston misconstrued they misconstrued. (Better to be safe than blown up.) But a more measured public response by the People in Charge might have been in order.

Steve Hulett said...

MSNBC's straw poll:

33% think the "Hunger marketing scheme was ridiculous and the company should pay for the problems it caused. (That would be $750,000 in police/fire costs.)

63% think it wasn't a problem and authorities overreacted.

3.3% have no opinion.

* * * * * *

On reflection, I think I maybe shouldn't have called anybody an "idiot;" maybe simply an overreactor.

There were no big reactions in the other 9 cities in wihch the ads were put up. And they've now been taken down.

Anonymous said...

Kevin is wrong on many points.

First off, it IS illegal to place a sign on city property without authorization and ESPECIALLY in a sensitive area like a structural beam under a commuter bridge.
It goes beyond illegal and into the realm of pure stupidity to put a sign that resembles a circuit board with a battery pack under a bridge
high above the street so that pedestrians cannot recognize it easily.

That IS like yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. Whats next, are the going to tape a bunch of road flares together and wrap a digital watch around them and then leave them in an open locker at the bus station?

Jokes aside, it is the location of this thing that caused a very understandable concern. Whether they looked like a bomb is totally and completely irrelevant. You don't place objects under bridges on their I-beams. If it was a teddy bear then police would STILL investigate it thoroughly.

Its both sad and amazing how many people commenting on this have missed the point completely.

Anonymous said...

they should just fine Cartoon Network for producing such dreck for TV.

Anonymous said...

Woops, this thing or little box looks like somebody ran out of money, when thay heard how much it's cost is to fabricate?
Somebody,(Company) needs to go the the city and pull permits to install anything on the exterior of public buildings, with size relation to the building, materials, electrical or not, in this case looks like 9 volt batteries.
There's alot of companies that are underminded by this kind of stuff, and it's all about the cost. Do it the right way, or do it the wrong way.

Paul said...

The first two Anonymous postings (I'm assuming it's the same person) manages to ignore some salient points:

* The objects had been in place for two weeks and people managed not to freak out over them

* Similar signs were placed in nine other major cities across the country and no one freaked out over them.

* They weren't just installed on "I-beams under a commute bridge", but on metal awnings, lampposts, etc. When was the last time a lamppost was a terrorist target?

* After Turner copped to their responsibility, Boston's mayor said - in a news conference - that they were still "following up on other leads" as to where these things may have come from. Huh? A major corporation tells you "they're ours" and you're still "following up leads"?

It's probably not the smartest marketing stunt anyone's ever done, but for city officials to continue to pontificate after finding out the truth is pathetic. Rather than tell their citizenry "it's cool - no big deal", they instead continued to whip them into a frenzy (refer again to Anonymous).

Given how people drive in that city, I'm not surprised some blinking lights would send them off the deep end...

Anonymous said...

When was the last time a lamppost a terrorist target? How about the people underneath.

You are all armchair experts of what is and isn't possibly a terrorist device. The point is, there was some confusion and some people didnt know what it was and it caused concern. That right there is enough reason to take the objects down and get these people in trouble.

They should of gotten permits or let the authorities know. The fact that they didn't do either one of these things shows that they knew they shouldn't be doing what they were about to do.

If I saw some sort of device connected to the pillar of a bridge, on a lamppost, or stuck on a stake in my front lawn I would wonder what the hell it was and wonder if someone should look into it.

We live in a society where people want to hurt us. Now that lite brites are deemed safe by some of you. Maybe the next terrorist will make their bomb look like a lite brite.


Paul said...

Still managing to ignore the most important points I see.

I've got no problem that it caused concern, but I do have a problem with the "lock 'em up" mentality on display here. You want to punish these guys because you freaked out. That's not enough justification as far as I'm concerned.

If they broke a law against posting without a permit, cite them. But five years for each sign, as the mayor wants? Even you have to admit that's a bit much.

Lemme clue ya, pal. Bombs can be disguised as anything, including that box of kleenex on the store shelf you're reaching for to dab your panicky, paranoid eyes. Don't you think that if terrorists were going to plant bombs they'd avoid making them intentionally light up, thus drawing attention to them?

Sure, be concerned if you see something that looks out of place. But don't freak out, and really don't continue to freak out once you've been told that it's a harmless guerilla ad. It's this constant, unrelenting fear mongering that's really the problem, not a few magnetic advertising signs.

The only idiot here is you.

Anonymous #5 said...

My post above didn't even mention the punishment (I'm anonymous #5). I wasn't even thinking about that at all while writing that post.

just for the record, i dont agree with 5 years in jail. just fines that the companies should pay, not the individuals that were hired to do it. Unless of course, there is jail time attached to doing this sort of thing without a permit.

As far as the terrorists not using something obvious like a lit up sign... my job isnt to identify with terrorists minds and figure out what they will and wont do. maybe you can relate more easily..

BTW Who's freaking out? I'm certainly not. I just find it irritating that advertisers pull this shit without thinking of the consequences. or boneheads that think it is all innocent fun and the results should be ignored.

Anonymous said...

what if the guerilla marketing company saw the stir on tv and then told those who knew about the signs to "keep quiet" while the situation escalated?

would that be grounds for these guys to be tried?
because that is what happened according to ABC news.

...and it doesn't take a lot of extrapolation to to figure out what was going down here: you can't uy publicity like shutting down a city. Interference Inc and these two boneheads sat back and laughed at the inconvenience of an entire city, and then they laughed at the press conference.

my sympathy is no more.

Paul said...

No, your job isn't to identify with terrorists - you appear to be much more interested in fear mongering and name-calling attacks, all the while posting under "anonymous". You've certainly earned your neocon merit badge.

Mark said...

funny when one person going by a first name only "Paul" starts lashing out at people that go by anonymous. Funny stuff.

okay, not really. just pathetic.

Paul said...

Whatever you say, "mark"...

Anonymous said...

i can see that my point went right over your braniac head.

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