Sunday, February 4, 2007

Aqua Teen Terrorism

By now, you've probably heard about all the commotion in Boston the other day associated with the marketing blitz for the upcoming Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie. But just in case, here's the lowdown:

Turner Broadcasting (the parent company of Cartoon Network) hired a firm to hang light boxes (essentially Light Brites) on buildings and structures in 10 major cities around the country, depicting characters from the series and upcoming movie. The characters were the Mooninites, two small square guys who like to give "the finger" to people. A Boston resident spotted one of these devices hanging from the underside of a bridge the other day, and notified the authorities. This is where things got out of control.

The authorities, fearing the item could be a terrorist bomb, closed off the area and detonated the device. When reports of similar devices started coming in from around the city, areas of Boston were shut down in fear of a wide-spread attack. Of course, as it turns out, it was all just a big misunderstanding. Once all of this came out, Turner Broadcasting issued an apology, and disclosed the locations of all the other signs in the country.

Now here's the rub - Boston officials have arrested the two men who hung the signs in Boston, and they now face criminal charges. Further, the city is looking to hold Turner Broadcasting accountable for the financial cost of the investigation to the city.

Now first things first - the person who initially reported the sign to the authorities is in no way to blame for all of this. That person simply saw a suspicious-looking object on a bridge, and correctly notified the authorities. The blame for this whole fiasco lies with the Boston authorities. Upon investigation of the first "device", they should have realized that it was just an industrial-strength Light Brite, and let everyone know that there was nothing to worry about. Instead, they were so afraid of nothing that they blew the whole incident out of proportion.

My guess is that the mayor and city officials realize how poorly they handled this situation, and just don't want to own up to it. So, to save face, they're pointing blame at anyone and everyone they can. A simple apology from Boston city officials would go a long way in putting this all behind us.

Now I'm not saying that this wasn't a stupid move by the advertising department over at Turner Broadcasting. They should have notified city officials ahead of time, and perhaps even investigated the need for any permits to hang the devices. But that doesn't excuse the overblown response from Boston city officials in this matter.

And what's the best part of this whole saga, you ask? Well, it's two-fold: First, the devices were hung in 9 other major U.S. cities, including New York, LA, and San Francisco, and no one there over-reacted to them. In fact, some people stole them for their homes or businesses, or to re-sell on eBay. Second, the signs were hanging in Boston for 2-3 weeks before this whole incident happened...2-3 weeks!

The simple truth is, the fear of terrorism has been so ingrained in everyone by the government that we're all jumping at our own shadows. We need to all just relax and evaluate each situation for what it is, without jumping to conclusions. Not everything that happens in this country is terrorism related.

There's one thing that can't be overlooked about all this, however - this whole incident has meant great publicity for Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Something tells me the series' ratings are going to go up a notch or two in the coming weeks...

No comments: