Arts Signs of the Times
Every generation has those moments that perfectly encapsulate the zeitgeist: “waist-up” footage of Elvis on Ed Sullivan, Dick and Mary’s separate beds on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Patty Hearst clutching that rifle on the Hibernia bank surveillance tape.
Last night, I experienced what felt like another of these zeitgeist-defining moments. I was watching The Office on NBC. During a commercial break, the face of an Office cast member appeared on the screen. It was the actor/comedian B.J. Novak, and he looked very, very concerned. The reason why soon became apparent: This was one of NBC’s “The More You Know” public service announcements, which for the past 17 years have enlightened Americans on current events and societal dangers, from racism and drug addiction to eating disorders and internet safety. Tonight, B.J. Novak tackled a new threat ruining the lives of Americans everywhere:
“Never, ever, ever videotape yourself having sex,” said Novak, with deep and impressive gravity. “You can say you’ll tape over it, but you won’t, and the tape will fall into the wrong hands. So just don’t do it. Never, ever, ever tape yourself having sex.” Then, NBC’s signature musical flourish, and Novak’s serene voice: “The more you know…”
Recounting it now, I realize NBC’s plea may have been designed to protect viewers as much as would-be sex tape participants. (God knows my life would be happier if I’d never seen that Fred Durst video.) Still, apparently we’ve come to a point in history when citizens need to be told not to record themselves having sex via prime-time public service announcements, which kinda makes the Pope’s psychotic Good Friday address seem not so crazy….which is a terrifying state of affairs.
And then comes the glorious punchline: The whole ad is a joke, and can be seen here!
God, I love a good mindfuck. Thank you, Office.