If you get hurt trying this, you can't sue

February 4, 2012

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Of all the fine print that appears in that small narrow sans-serif white print with black drop-shadow at the bottom of the screen during television commercials, my favorite has to be the one that, for various reasons depending on the activities being depicted, says, "Do not attempt."

Sunday is the Super Bowl. Count how many of these examples you see during the course of the game.

You know, commercials where multiple cars are being driven through wide-open non-roads in the middle of the desert at 90 mph and then do 180-degree spins while passing each other in opposite directions. "Professional driver on closed course. Do not attempt." Yes, because I have access to desert expanses of non-roads where I like to go driving my $60,000 luxury vehicle with my friends and their matching $60,000 vehicles.

Or that one where a guy, for reasons I can't remember, crumples up a $20 bill and shoves it into his mouth. "Do not attempt." You know, because money is dirty and, well, not food, and shouldn't be put in your mouth.

Or a guy stops at a stoplight just as it's about to rain, and gets out of his car and puts windshield treatment on his windows, because it's so fast and easy that you can do it in the time it takes to wait for a stoplight! "Closed road. Do not attempt." Okay, I guess DON'T do it, then.

Or a recent commercial, depicting what happens when body spray makes people so ka-razy and hot for each other that an entire city block goes nuts. A man jumps off his motorcycle to approach a woman. The motorcycle goes crashing through a window. A car cuts off another car and causes a crash. Another car flips over next to a bus. "Professional stunt. Do not attempt." Or more to the point, through the entire commercial: "Dramatization." You know, because it would be UNETHICAL in a commercial to suggest that body spray would ACTUALLY be so effective as to cause people to jump into one another's face in uncontrollable lust! Because I didn't realize this was ironic hipster exaggeration without seeing "Dramatization" in the fine print to explain it to me!

Or another recent commercial where an XTreme pickup truck goes careening down a snowy mountain like a snowboarder, in what is clearly a CGI effect. Fine print: "Pickups can't snowboard. Do not attempt." Yes, because we saw a commercial and thought, gee wouldn't it be a BLAST to drive a pickup truck — for which I just took out a multi-year loan and am making monthly payments — down a snowy mountain grade without a road?

I suppose we live in a culture so stupid and litigious that companies feel the need to tell us not to attempt something that is FREAKING IMPOSSIBLE, lest we hurt/kill ourselves and then say, well, gee, I just saw it on a commercial! Their fault; time to sue! Or, more likely, companies have so little respect for the intelligence of their customers that they have to hand-hold us like five-year-olds.

The following is by far my favorite example of this. It's not even a close call.

An SUV, in what is very obviously a CGI effect, DRIVES INTO A VOLCANO and vanishes from view. A few seconds later, the volcano erupts in a huge explosion. Fiery debris and rocks are thrown everywhere. The SUV is thrown hundreds if not thousands of feet in the air and then lands, wheels first and undamaged, on the ground about 10 yards in front of the camera's point of view. Y'know, because it's such a tough SUV, it can survive an explosion and being hurtled a half mile or so through the air.

At the bottom of the screen, without any other explanation: "Do not attempt."

I really hope they were being slyly ironic with that one. Because if you can explain to me how, using this universe's laws of physics, I can even remotely possibly come within a million miles of attempting to drive my vehicle into a volcano before getting exploded out of it, I am going to goddamn attempt it, just to prove that some things are worth ignoring urgent pleas from small white type so I can go attempt them, and go out in the blaze of glory I know I've always deserved.

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6 comments on this post

    We're treated a little more grown up in the UK. I do love the booze adverts though that show people ordering copius amounts of drink and then a disclaimer (Drink Responsibly) comes up.
    Like Jack Daniels want us to drink responsibly, they want us bathing in the stuff!
    Radio ads are funny as well as they deliver some of the terms and conditions and you have voice over guy saying stuff really fast like 'To be used as part of a calorie controlled diet, may cause hair loss, insomnia and death, always read the label.'

    I enjoyed the one with the car skydiving during this years Superbowl. I AM GOING TO DO IT.

    I think the best one is the new Verizon/NHL commercial that has the actor in the ice looking up. A disclaimer on the bottom of the screen says "Do not attempt without long johns." Someone at that ad agency "gets it".

    I think the "Trucks do not snowboard" was purposely goofy.

    If James May of the BBC's Top Gear had been willing to die for our amusement, he actually could have driven into the mouth of an active volcano. I don't know that he would've been comically blasted out of it though.

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