Last week after 9 holes of employee golf, I went out with my group to grab a bite to eat and have a few drinks. During the round, two of them were chain smoking. Not really like either of them, though they do have the occasional cigarette. I generally give my friends a little grief whenever I see them smoking, but nothing too much.
So, after a few jabs on the course, I let it drop. At the bar, after the round, a commercial came on the big screen that I had seen before and pointed out to them as soon as it started. It shows a guy who had throat cancer and had to have a hole drilled in his throat so he can breath. He talks with one of those robot sounding devices that he has to hold to the side of his neck.
If you've seen one of these commercials, you know what I'm talking about, if not, here's a quick article
Anyway, my friends handed over their smokes and made a bet with me that if they ever took another puff, they would buy the group a meal a Ruth Chris (a fairly expensive steak house, where dinner for the four of us would probably end up being $400 or so.)
I hope never to collect, but the most striking thing is that I've never seen a more direct (and powerful) effect on someone from a commercial. It's pretty disturbing, but its impact was well worth any discomfort.
This actually gets me thinking about how sanitized our society is now. At least when it comes to real life. In movies, you can find amazingly gory visuals. But that's just fantasy. Back in the real world, the news is generally white-washed to avoid overly disturbing visuals.
Sure, you get numbers, and sometimes descriptions that are a little rough, but even those strike me as toned down. From stories that I've heard about news broadcasts during Vietnam, there would be actual footage of combat dead.
In today's always on, media rich United States, the government won't even allow images of the caskets of our fallen soldiers to be filmed coming off the plan on their final journey.
For me, it's hard to wrap my mind around what's going on in Iraq. With all the images we see every day, I think not seeing some of the harder scenes from there acts as a bit of a sedative. I'm a bit conflicted about this, because I wouldn't want it to be an over produced media piece that's just trying to grab ratings. But, I think in the same way that the anti-smoking commercial shocked my friends into really thinking about smoking, making sure that we, as a society, are fully aware of what's going on would make us pay more attention to it.
I don't know if any of the decisions from this point forward would change, and I'm not suggesting any course of action. I just want to make sure that while we have troops fighting in another country, we are paying attention to it. Because, frankly, I don't think we really are.
(_NOTE: this post took one hell of a tangent. Originally, it was just going to be about the commercial_)
Update: November, 2021
This isn't the video, but it's one like it from the same time period