The federal government has a long history of using misguided hyperbole in television commercials, the most famous example being the sizzling egg with the message, â€œThis is your brain on drugs. Any questions?â€ with the implication being than only an idiot would want to ask questions.
A current anti-drug commercial features a sleeping girl who has been drawn on by friends who commence to move her arms like a puppet and record the event with a camera. This girl seems to have more of a friend problem than a drug problem.
Now there is a USDA spot warning us not about drugs, but of an (apparently) impending problem in California with foreign insects.
In what looks like a horror movie preview, a young girl is shown walking through an indefinitely-sized orchard, alone, the classic setup. Without warning, various fruits around her fall off of trees and rapidly deteriorate, compelled by a mysterious force. Scary, discordant music builds tension in the background. An ominous voice tells viewers weâ€™re â€œunder attackâ€ by something â€œwhich may appear harmless, but itâ€™s damage is very realâ€ (Cue the distant female voice singing in a minor key).
Suddenly, the girl explodes into a swarm of disgusting bugs (!) which affix themselves to your TV screen. These are â€œinvasive pestsâ€ says the announcer, who then name drops the web site www.hungrypests.com, and warns that â€œTheyâ€™re here, and theyâ€™re hungryâ€ in a tone implying that hunger itself is one of the seven deadly sins.
Lastly, I explode in laughter on the couch.
Despite what the old egg commercial suggests, many questions should pop into mind when viewing something like this, the first of which is, â€œWhy are they trying so hard?â€
If this really were a terrifying subject, it probably wouldnâ€™t need so much imagery and music to get the point across.
The site also features a radio spot featuring the bugs talking in chipmunk-like voices. Again their ultimate crime seems to be that theyâ€™re hungry. Starving children in Africa need not apply.
Question number two: isnâ€™t pest control a problem as old as farming itself?
According to hungrypests.com, â€œInvasive pests are any kind of damaging animals, insects, plants or plant diseases that are not native to the State.â€
Thatâ€™s right, these boys are illegal immigrants, complete with names like â€œMediterranean fruit fly,â€ â€œOriental fruit flyâ€, and the even more creatively named â€œMexican fruit fly.â€
Of course, there are many similar domestic pests, but the foreign ones seem to be more efficient at their job, which Michael Moore would remind us is a classic example of capitalism.
Other questions arise from the most basic lines of thought. Wouldnâ€™t the fruit still deteriorate without the non-native bugs? Yes. Arenâ€™t there other species who migrate to different countries and eat fruit and sometimes kill trees? Name 10 and youâ€™ll be off to a good start.
These insects may indeed be a threat to our economy, but this is not conveyed in such comical and embarrassing propaganda.
A CBS survey released last month states that only 23 percent of Americans trust the government to do the right thing most of the time.
Perhaps these numbers would rise if the government would start speaking to the people like adults. Call me an idealist, but I think we can listen just fine without the music, the slogans, and the little girl turning into a swarm of locusts.