Fuelishness and Drug-Impaired Reasoning

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One needn't be a mileage-obsessed green to enjoy Arianna Huffington's anti-SUV ads, which are scheduled to begin airing on TV stations in Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington during political talk shows this Sunday morning. Modeled after the federal government's ads accusing drug users of complicity with terrorism, the spots are hilariously over the top when taken literally yet clever as a satirical stab at the anti-drug propaganda that Huffington accurately calls "ridiculous and wildly inflammatory." Here's a description of the Huffington-inspired ads, courtesy of The New York Times:

"This is George," a girl's voice says of an oblivious man at a gas station. "This is the gas that George bought for his S.U.V." The screen then shows a map of the Middle East. "These are the countries where the executives bought the oil that made the gas that George bought for his S.U.V." The picture switches to a scene of armed terrorists in a desert. "And these are the terrorists who get money from those countries every time George fills up his S.U.V."

A second commercial depicts a series of ordinary Americans saying things like: "I helped hijack an airplane"; "I gave money to a terrorist training camp in a foreign country"; "What if I need to go off-road?"

At the close, the screen is filled with the words: "What is your S.U.V. doing to our national security?"

The spots thus take aim at the unstated moral premise of the anti-drug ads: If some of the people who profit from the sale of a product do evil, anyone who consumes the product is responsible for their crimes. Although the Office of National Drug Control Policy has taken the unusual step of defending this argument in ads responding to criticism of its attempts to link drug use with violence, the Bush administration clearly is not prepared to apply the principle consistently. Perhaps the ant-SUV spots will force it to explain why. That should be funny too.

NEXT: Hamdi Hung Out

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  1. These ads are receiving a lot of press here in Detroit, where a lot of folks working for the auto industry are upset because they are apparently worried that Americans will take them at face value, and stop buying SUVs. Personally I think there’s a far stronger link here than the drug thing, which exists solely because of government prohibition. One could also easily argue that the situation with oil exists because of US foreign policy. In any case I think a lot of people are missing the ‘reducto ad absurdum’ intent. I thought of this myself a few months back and I’m glad to see someone actually do it.

  2. Just for the record, my wife and I own three vehicles, a mid-size car, a mid-size sport ute and a larger luxury car. They all get about the same shitty gas mileage, between 18 – 22 mpg. SUVs have gotten an undeserved bad rap for gas mileage. If you compare the behemoths like the Ford Excursion to an econo-box like the Focus, of course there’s a huge difference in gas mileage. But most people by the cars and trucks in the ‘middle of the road’ for practical reasons, and they all get about the same fuel economy.

  3. Haven’t seen the gun one…and I watched a lot of TV over the holidays. My favourite so far is the one in the bathroom at the concert venue. It’s the reductio ad absurdum of anti-drug propaganda: “Don’t smoke dope or we’ll bust your ass. End of story.”

  4. Propaganda from just about anyone is easy to poke fun at. Kudos to Arianna Huffington. Also, off the subject of national security and terrorism and all that, SUV’s are nothing more than overpriced station wagons.

  5. Dear Jacob,

    I was watching Chris Mathew’s Hardball last night on MSNBC when he profiled the “This is George,” ad. I nearly fell off of my couch in laughter. But, unfortunately Mr. Mathews didn’t quite get it. He didn’t recognize the double purpose of the ad. Showing how rediculous the ONDCP’s propaganda campaign is and while simultaneously taking a stab at the penchent of American’s for gas hogs (I own one).

    Too bad Arianna’s ads will not run as frequently or as widely as the White House Ministry of Truth’s stupid commercials.

  6. The ads assume that only people who drive SUV’s buy gas. I know better. Every vehicle I own burns gas including my Sears Mower.

  7. The sad truth, though, is that the anti-drugs are self-parodies, and need no additional ridiculue. My favorite is the one with the stoned teenager finding a gun and accidentally shooting his friend. It’s intended as an anti-marijuana ad — but couldn’t it just as easily be seen as pro-gun control?

  8. If you like the ads and want them to get further exposure, the Detroit Project is accepting donations.

  9. Caught a little of Sean Hannity
    yesterday “interviewing” Ariana. Need I tell you Hannity didn’t get the joke either?

  10. I’m not a tree hugger, and I really don’t care about the survival of the 3 toed spotted grouse, but I think it’s obscene to see a soccer mom push her Hummer down Park Ave. in Winter Park, FL. Or any other place either! She’ll probably drive it to an anti-war rally if we get into Iraq. Of course her husband won’t mind. He’s too busy tearing up Florida wetlands with his Honda 4-wheeler!

  11. IF YOU BUY GAS YOU SUPPORT TERRORISM! Check out “If You Buy Gas…” a hilarious, scathing spoof of the Partnership for A Drug Free America that doesn’t miss the point! It’s been on ifilm.com over a month before the SUV thing and it says it all. “If You Buy Gas…” can be accessed at:

    http://www.geocities.com/digistain

  12. The 3rd Annual Drug War Vigil Film Festival

    by press release (10 Sept, 2004)
    This year’s event will be in a Vancouver theatre

    The Drug War Vigil Memorial Group is a social justice think tank that was founded in the fall of 2000, dedicated to ending the War on Drugs.
    We recognize that the militarization of this medical issue and the criminalization of the chronically sick, terminally ill and chemically dependent have resulted in the needless loss of human life, and that this is the true crime.

    We promoted social justice journalism at the 2002 Cannabis Culture Toker’s Bowl Drug War Vigil Film Festival and again at the 2nd Annual Drug War Vigil Film Festival in May 2003, also during the Bowl. With spin-offs when 911 Media (www.911media.org) Washington State’s premier Media Arts Center and the BC Compassion Club Society (www.thecompassionclub.org), a non-profit healthcare provider distributing cannabis and other holistic medicines, presented a DRUG WAR FILM FESTIVAL March 12 th in Seattle Wa. in addition to an earlier show here in East Vancouver.

    This Year we using a theater Venue and staging it as separate event from the Toker’s Bowl so broader spectrum of participants will be able to view.
    Our group is honored to be affiliated with this event and thank Marc Emery and Chris Bennett, and crew of Pot-TV for their extraordinary activism in action in sponsoring this event.
    Contest Details:

    Send us your films of 30 minutes or less on any topic related to cannabis, drugs and the drug war, and/or Harm Reduction.
    Only submit in plain old VHS tape or Hi-8 or digital-8.
    The films will be screened and judged by participants at the Drug War Vigil Film Festival Sept 24-25th as well as viewers of http://WWW.Pot-TV.Net
    The film chosen for first place will receive
    A Grand Prize of $2000 US.. 2nd place $1000.00 3rd place $500.00
    New Special 500.00 Prize for best short, a short being 5 minutes or less.
    You must register your film for entry by to be eligible.

    Registration is FREE and only requires you email us at dwvfilmproject@hotmail.com with your intention A.S.A.P. and projected length of your work.

    We will need to receive the finished film by September 10th 2004

    Watch the web page for further details relating to with confirmed dates and actually attending the event: cost, entertainment etc.

    It is our hope to inspire independent and amateur film makers to produce inspirational works.

    e-mail us at dwvfilmproject@hotmail.com or film@cannabisculture.com

    Send your entry in to:
    D.W.V. c/o BCMP Bookshop
    307 W Hastings
    Vancouver, B.C.
    V6B 1H6
    CANADA

  13. EMAIL: pamela_woodlake@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
    URL: http://linux-shell-account.1st-host.org
    DATE: 01/20/2004 07:41:13
    Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.

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