I'm curious what Projectors think of the Anti-Violence Project's new PSA campaign, "Bullying Is Violence." Do you think it's effective? Or will it be ignored? They're all below in one video.
The campaign was created by Telly Award winning director Daniel Azarian, so this wasn't some fly-by-night an-intern-put-this-together-for-us kinda thing. This took some oversight and development by professionals.
My thoughts after the break.
New York City Anti-Violence Project Executive Director Sharon Stapel said in a press release, "Thanks to Daniel Azarian and Underdog Entertainment, AVP is able to make the important connection between bullying and the severe and too frequent violence that impacts LGBTQ people every day and at every age. One year ago today, Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi took his own life after experiencing anti-LGBTQ bullying. These Public Service Announcements bring much-needed awareness to the growing problem of violence faced by LGBTQ people."
I love the Anti-Violence Project (and Sharon in particular), but I adamantly disagree that these PSAs will "bring much needed awareness" to LGBT bullying. Without going back to watch the video again, answer these three question: Were the ads about LGBT people? How many times were the words "gay," "lesbian," "bisexual," "transgender," "queer," or any of the other terms used to describe our tribe said? How many times did anything queer-related appear on screen?
It's a trick. The answer to all three questions is "None." We got washed right out of the PSA campaign. We're nonexistent in the ads.
While there are people pictured that you can assume are queer, it just perpetuates the stereotypes that you can usually "tell" who's gay or who's not - a common excuse for bullying based on perceived sexual orientation. The press release touts that the PSAs "feature a varied demographic of people" and that's an admirable goal, but did the drive to showcase diversity undercut the goal of talking about anti-LGBT bullying? Did it water the point down so far that it's meaningless?
While I've been critical of the celebrities jumping on the It Gets Better bandwagon as a way to bump their liberal love credentials rather than any real concern about LGBT kids, this series of ads could use some star power. Sure, Claire Buffie (Miss New York 2010) and Ronnie Kroell (Bravo's Make Me A Supermodel) make brief appearances, but if it weren't for the press release I wouldn't have known that. Maybe it's just me, but I wonder how many teen bullies watch Make Me A Supermodel or the Miss New York pageants?
Star power doesn't mean there has to be a celebrity in the ads either, but it does require that there's someone in the PSA's that's compelling and gives the viewer a story to follow and sympathize with. Can you remember any of the people shown or anything they said other than "Why?"
A perfect example of telling a story with an ad is this award winning PSA Azarian produced called "Save Lolita." Once you watch it, you won't forget who Lolita is.
In the anti-bullying series, the average viewer doesn't get a story, they've got no one to care about, and there's nothing to do. The PSA is more "background nag" than "pop culture sculptor" and I don't know any bullies that were stopped by nagging them or looking pitiful and questioning.
Bottom line: the PSAs are obviously well intentioned and serve a basic purpose of reminding people about the dangers of bullying, but I don't think they're even close to the memorable PSAs that have actually shaped our culture. That's a shame too, because when I saw that AVP had created the PSAs I expected to be praising them to the heavens.
What do you think? Am I off? Do you agree? I'll be interested to see your thoughts.