Druggie and Mobster

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I am hoping for some more positive PSA's from the new $300 million TV industry content control campaign unveiled today.

The two PSA's offered for viewing, "Boss of Mob" Boss of Druggie" are humorous and well-produced, but they could be mistaken for SNL send-ups of a serious effort at public education.

I have issues with emphasizing the negative rather than positive. I see what they are trying for, I'm just not sure it is the right Poster-PSA for the new campaign.

In 'Druggie,' a drug addict is praised for his storyline, told it is not appropriate, then abandoned to his drug-induced haze. In "Mob," a Tony Soprano knockoff has whacked "Vinnie" with a shovel, which isn't appropriate for the kids, says what appears to be Vinnie's now-widow, so he will have to be blocked.

Yeah, I guess having your father killed isn't good for them. The "humorous" kicker has "Tony" producing Vinnie's watch from his pocket, saying "you oughta have it, you deserve it."  It just doesn't feel right, particularly with a campaign whose dual purpose is to educate parents and to demonstrate to Congress your seriousness about controlling access to adult content. That doesn't mean the spots can't be funny, but they can't also seem to flaunt the programming.

Is it only me? I mean, I love wicked parody and humor as much as the next guy, from South Park and Simpsons to brilliant theatrical, The Ruling Class, with Peter O'Toole, but shouldn't the PSA's be more family-oriented and positive.

Plus, it seems to me a me a bad idea to make any joke about the violence or seem to make light of the drug use. I know that was not the plan, but the seed is planted. Again, it doesn't sit well with me. OK, I am not a young, hip person, but the target is parents with kids–and 80-something committee co-chairman, not 18-24-year-olds.

Since no one asked, here is what I would have preferred to put in front of senior Senators already concerned about violence and drug portrayals in TV.

How about a couple of kids, with parents absent, eagerly sitting down to watch some inappropriate show. They switch to the channel, but instead of getting the latest Girls Gone Wild video or slasher movie, its mom, with the admonition. "Sorry, but there's a good show on channel 7." They frantically switch to another forbidden channel. It's their dad, smiling and saying: "Nope, sorry guys, not unless I'm with you to explain some things."  Switch to yet a third: Both parents: "Oh, by the way, don't forget to feed the dog." Kicker to parents: "You're the boss."

Or how about two kids whose in appropriate choices keep getting blocked until they surf to an unblocked food channel. "Three months later": The Parents come home to find their kids have prepared a gourmet meal with platings that would make an Iron Chef hang his poofy white hat in shame.

"Food Channel" the parents say in unison with a smile.

"For more information on how to plan your child's media menu, go to…."

That one has the extra advantage of suggesting you can do your own a la carte, which is a bonus for the cable side.

OK, I am not an ad copywriter, but then, I'm not paid like one, either, though this campaign is pro bono. (mine is too, if anyone wants to use it).

Fun, positive. That's the ticket. Yes, TV wants to point out that you have control over the kind of content the PSA's depict. But, for me, better to leave the dark side blocked in the ads and show instead the light of reason and technology and parent-friendly choices.

But hey, maybe it's just me.

By John Eggerton

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