Thursday, February 01, 2007

Mooninites are not terrorists.

They can be accused of being intergalactic mischief-makers, but terrorism is way too strong of a word to describe Ignignokt and Err,the low-res graphical moon-dwelling gremlins of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force known as Mooninites. In Boston, an LED sign made in the shape of one of these Mooninites which had been hanging up on a bridge for at least two weeks triggered off a massive wave of fear in at least one concerned citizen, who called coppers. They called in the bomb squad, who detonated the harmless device (which was one of many, as it turned out). The deployers of the signs, Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens were arrested and charged with, as states, "placing a hoax device in a way that results in panic". They have since been released on bail. The two have turned "no comment" into a strange, mildly humorous alternative discussion limited merely to '70s hairstyles. Berdovsky and Stevens, like the Mooninites, are not terrorists either. And my guess is that they never intended to hoax anyone into thinking that their devices were anything more or less than what they are: LED pictures of Mooninites. Meant to advertise a television program. Not to instill fear. Not to cause mayhem. Not to yell "fire" in a crowded theater.

To advertise a TV program, folks. That's all.

My take? This campaign had the potential of being a genius campaign (and, don't count your chips yet, may end up being so in its current incarnation). I think it's cool as hell that these devices were placed all around the city, and from that standpoint alone, it's a brilliant ad campaign. However, from my Monday morning quarterbacking stance, I can only say that one tiny detail would have prevented the whole bomb scare fiasco: had they placed any sort of label on them which said explicitly, "Not a bomb!! For more info on this device, please call 1-800-Cartoon". The labels wouldn't have had to been huge; merely visible, especially to a bomb-squad member about to detonate the device, or a law enforcement official called out responding to a bomb scare. This campaign really could have gone off flawlessly had that one little thing been done. For that, I will fault the idea men behind the campaign. But even this oversight, irresponsible as it may be, does not constitute criminal activity in my eyes.

So now that everyone in this case looks like a chimp for either small-but-really-critical lapses in judgment or extreme over-reaction (guess which side is guilty of which), there's really only one solution when it comes out to "punishment" for "wrong deeds" committed within these actions: enforce a charitable contribution to an appropriate charity. Think about it: the two artist dudes who created the devices were doing so as a campaign from their client Turner Broadcasting System; they shouldn't be held responsible for the full "crime" (whatever you wanna call it; I don't see any criminal activity present). Turner Broadcasting didn't mean to inspire fear into the populace; they only wanted to find a guerrilla method to advertise their upcoming movie (it worked). And as much as it pains me to say this, the Boston folks who cried bomb, even though they might have been way too Chicken Little for my tastes, you can see how they might have been suspicious of the LED devices. What we have here is a massive misunderstanding. I don't see any malicious intent in the slightest. And because of that, I don't think that the artists or Turner Broadcasting should be on the hook for all of the money that the bomb scare cost Massachusetts taxpayers. Therefore, if all of the creators of the ad campaign were to give X (substantial) amount of cash to well-chosen charities, all parties can walk away with dignity intact and we can all laugh about it.

Why does my spider-sense tell me this one will end in tears? And recrimination? And ruined reputations? When it just... doesn't... need... to be that way.


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