Disastrous commercial

The entire universe in blog form
Aug. 28 2009 11:03 AM

Disastrous commercial

So I'm watching some TV for the first time in a while (man, watching "They Live" was cathartic), and a commercial comes on. It's a peculiar mix of one of those feel-good pharmaceutical ads showing people being happy and all together with nonsense about the end of the world in 2012. The ad is from the IHC: the Institute of Human Continuity.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  


It is a very slick ad, and the IHC website is also very well done.

The thing is: it's made up. Fiction. It's viral advertising for the movie 2012 which comes out later this year. I've been getting tons of mails from people who have seen this commercial and asked what's up with it. A lot of folks got it, but many didn't.

I love movies, and I love disaster movies, and I even love bad over the top ridiculous disaster movies. And at some level I don't mind Hollywood making a 2012 movie because it's just another topic tailor-made for Irwin Allenification... but this commercial makes me unhappy.

First and foremost: the 2012 doomsayers are full of crap. Pretty much every single thing they claim is complete and utter garbage. The Mayan calendar does not end in 2012. The Sun's flare cycle does not peak in 2012. There is no special Galactic Alignment in 2012. There is no such thing as the giant planet Nibiru. Etc., etc. The people promoting this garbage are either self-deluded, or they are con artists trying to bilk people out of money by scaring them to death, a time-honored tradition among the dishonorable. But people are really getting scared about this bilge -- and a lot of them are kids who don't yet have the critical thinking skills to be able to see through all this.

And that's why I don't like this ad. The only sign that it's a viral commercial for a movie is at the very beginning when, for a fraction of a second, the Columbia Pictures logo is flashed onscreen. On the IHC website it's at the very bottom, in teeny tiny letters, saying that the site is copyright Sony Pictures.

In other words, the ad plays up on the fears of the 2012-pushers, essentially fear-mongering itself.

Again, I have no problems with realistic movie ads in general, as long as it's clear it's about a movie. This commercial hides that as much as it can, and it's designed to play up on fears.

I'm still interested in seeing the movie -- and I wonder if it may actually dispel 2012 fear-baiting because it will be so ridiculously over-the-top -- but I hope they stop advertising it in this way.

[P.S. The building in the ad looks familiar. Does anyone recognize it?]


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.