Thursday, June 01, 2006

Pixar and the Nanny State

Cars looks like another Bug's Life--which is to say, better than Shrek, but far below The Incredibles in the animation pantheon. But who knows? Maybe we'll all be pleasantly surprised.

But in the run-up to release, Cars has given us one very unpleasant surprise: the worst promotional tie-in in the history of movies.

After selling their souls back to Disney, Pixar went on a promotional-partner spree with Cars, signing up 17 corporate sponsors for the movie. Seventeen is a garishly large number, but what's really striking is how few of these corporate tie-ins--Hertz, Goodyear, Porsche, State Farm Insurance, Georgia Pacific, Valvoline--have anything to do with the movie or its intended audience.

Yet all of that pales in comparison to Pixar's least attractive partner: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Cars actually has a promotional tie in with the NHTSA's Click It or Ticket campaign.

Surely you've seen the hectoring TV spots for Click It or Ticket. Somber state troopers pull over rambunctious young men (no female offenders are ever featured in these ads) and hand out tickets not for speeding or running red lights or any other actual traffic violations--but simply for not wearing a seatbelt.

I'm all in favor of seatbelts. They save lives and I wear mine every day. But, like red-light cameras, this is pure revenue-generation for the state gussied up as concern for public safety. It is the worst of the Nanny State: Instead of catching actual criminals, the police turn their attentions to the habits of law-abiding citizens.

The Click It or Ticket campaign is maddening in its own right, but it's almost unfathomable as to why Pixar would allow the that sort of busy-body, nagging message to get mixed up with Cars.

Update: I should have added earlier that those interested in defending red-light cameras should read Matt Labash's excellent series on them which explodes much of the junk science about how they promote safety. Labash argues, convincingly, that red-light cameras cause more accidents than they prevent. But they do gin up a lot of money for local municipalities.


DocNeaves said...

One of the few places I diverge from the conservative line...and I used to HATE the idea of red light cameras. But in concept, I think they should have them at every intersection. They only take a snapshot, only if you trip it by breaking the law, and it's photographic evidence, especially when that person ran the redlight and caused an accident. Have you ever tried to convince anyone, the cop, a jury, anyone at all, that the OTHER guy ran the red light? I watched two people killed, it set me thinking hard, there had to be a better way. I changed, was totally against them, as well as spying, wiretapping without warrant, eavesdropping, NSA listening in or databasing phone records of any kind for any reason. But I changed my mind on red light cameras. They are sorely needed, because the only other option is for the cop to stand at each intersection and watch every light change. Or for him to film it, or a blind for the camera to film all traffic, something I wouldn't want just because it could be abused.

Anonymous said...

I am at a loss as to why a movie called "Cars" would have tie-in with Valvoline and Goodyear. Please explain.

Anonymous said...

I am at a loss as to why a movie called "Cars" would have tie-in with Valvoline and Goodyear. Please explain.

No shit! JVL what gives?

Anyhow, I somewhat agree about the nanny-state stuff; however, whenever I watch the evening local news and I see people who have died in traffic accidents, more often than not they weren't wearing seatbelts. When I see that, I think WTF. On the other hand, I also think that there are a lot of dumbshits in the world.

arrScott said...

Red-light running is a huge problem in Northern Virginia. (As is people driving in the dark without headlights; what's that all about?) The real solution is to make everybody take a combination written and road test every five years or so, and to grade on the curve so that at least 1/3 of all people who take the test fail. Then people will get serious about learning and following the rules of the road. You know, like "red means stop." Easy-to-forget rules like that. But serious driver testing will never happen, at least not in Virginia, so red-light cameras are the next best thing.

In the end, it boils down to this: Are you for criminals who run red lights, or are you for the innocent families they'll inevitably kill if they keep running those red lights? Pretty simple choice, actually. How so-called conservatives in the Virginia legislature, which just revoked local jurisdictions' authorities to use red-light cameras, come down on the side of the criminals mystifies me. It seems like the kind of extreme individual-rights position you'd expect the far left to be taking in Massachusetts or something. "The government has no business photographing me breaking the law in public on government property! Don't I have any rights? Big Brother! This Tercel kills fascists!"

Yeah, red-light cameras bring in a lot of revenue. From criminals. So does the speed trap the cops set up every day near my local elementary school, just past the "Speed Limit 25 When Flashing/Fines Double in School Zone" sign, where children have to cross the road and most drivers do 50. Should we close that quota-filling fine farm of a speed trap down too?

DocNeaves said...

to be fair, the revenue problem with the red light cameras was that communities were setting the yellow lights shorter, causing people to run red lights more, and some were varying the yellow. Or so the reports said. Down here, they stopped it for the stupidest reason yet...too many accidents from one guy stopping and someone else running into them. Right, like that's a reason to drop the cameras!! More like evidence that our drivers need those cameras at every intersection until they get used to them, and until they get used to stopping as soon as they see the yellow light come on.