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

arson
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.

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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.