I’m Pretty Sure This Anti-Arson Music Video Is the Strangest PSA Ever

A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
Nov. 15 2013 1:18 PM

I’m Pretty Sure This Anti-Arson Music Video Is the Strangest PSA Ever

After all is said and done, arson burns everyone.

Screenshot via YouTube

Continuing my mission to present you, the noble reader, with the world’s strangest and most entertaining public safety videos, I offer this bizarre yet memorable anti-arson PSA from 1980.

As an astute YouTube commenter suggested, many arsonists are psychologically unstable souls who act out of anger, or from irrational motives, and thus are unlikely to be swayed by appeals to reason, or by the assertion that “when you play with fire, you play the fool.” So I’m not sure whether this video was very effective in dissuading arsonists from their fiery tasks. (It was probably very effective in terrifying California’s after-school-special-watching latchkey children, however.) But it’s still an artistic treasure.


There are plenty of wonderful things about this video—the way the action syncs up with the bass line of the theme song, the maniacal face the teenage firebug makes in the closing freeze-frame—but the best part is the menacing, breathy “Arson Burns Everyone” jingle, which captures what I imagine it sounds like inside an arsonist’s brain 24/7. The song’s a hit waiting to happen. Watch the video once, and the tune will be burned into your brain for a week.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.


Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company


The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.


How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 10:42 AM Scalia’s Liberal Streak The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
The Eye
Sept. 18 2014 12:47 PM How One of the Most Prolific Known Forgers in Modern History Faked Great Works of Art
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 12:03 PM The NFL Opines on “the Role of the Female”
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Sept. 18 2014 12:37 PM The Movies May Have Forgotten About Them, but Black Cowboys Are Thriving
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 12:46 PM The World Is Warming. So Why Is Antarctic Sea Ice Hitting Record Highs?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
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.