When you think of the victims of gun violence, the vulnerable groups that come most immediately to mind are young children and teenagers. In recent years, we’ve see the cause and effect that shootings have had on the day to day lives of our children, something that Andrew Bird’s heartbreaking “Pulaski” video covered earlier this year. As the attacks become more and more frequent, how can we protect our children? Or as this ad campaign puts it, how can we protect ourselves?
Turning the issue on its head in their latest PSA for Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, McCann New York approach gun crime from a darkly funny angle. According to McCann NY, children aren’t the victims, they’re the problem. And the worst kind? Toddlers.
Reeling off a list of unthinkable crimes, the voiceover paints a grisly picture of the youth of today, from “Toddler Shoots Dad and Pregnant Mother with One Bullet” to “Shot in the Head by Her Three Year Old Son.” This is accompanied by a grim montage of toddlers armed with deadly weapons (sometimes bigger than the kids themselves). But it doesn’t stop there.
“America’s got a real problem and it’s time we did something,” the voiceover proclaims. The solution? If we want to end gun crime, we’ve got to start making the culprits pay. We’ve got to start jailing toddlers. “We need to lock them up, not the guns, that’s just un-american. Round them up, deport them. Get them out of our country and keep them away from our guns.”
Put it like this and an entire generation of ankle biters are imagined running-riot (or more likely crawling-riot) in a veritable blood-bath of unbridled chaos. What are their motives and what do they want from us? No more early bedtimes? To put an end the force-feeding of vegetables? Or a gun-point amnesty of the spoils of “got-your-nose”? One thing’s for sure, they must be stopped by any means possible.
Funny as this notion may be, it reveals something a lot darker about the genuine issue of accidental shootings involving minors — an all too familiar tale. Children, perhaps siblings or school friends, are innocently playing when they stumble across a loaded gun. Maybe it’s in a drawer somewhere or tucked away under a bed, or maybe it’s in pride of place on the mantelpiece. Whatever the details, wherever the setting, ultimately it all ends the same.
The film has certainly raised eyebrows, but as Brendan Kelly, press secretary for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says, “We were hoping it would speak to the absurdity that we see as the gun debate in America.”
Without being too overly explicit about it, the film offers an ominous foreshadowing of the shape of things to come by utilizing the language and fear-mongering reminiscent of a certain presidential candidate. Post-watch, viewers are directed to the site “Toddlers Kill” where they can find out useful facts surrounding gun laws and information about which side of the fence Trump and Clinton stand on when it comes to the Second Amendment.
Positively dripping with Swiftian satire, the ad plays on the notion that the pro-gun lobby will say or do almost anything to protect the right to bear their beloved arms, even to the ridiculous extent of putting children behind bars.
Whilst we may laugh and titter at the dramatized ravings of a faceless gun-loving lunatic, there’s no denying there’s a real issue here. Though it pushes boundaries, redefines comfort-zones, and steps dangerously over the line, work like this opens our eyes to the world around us, and hopefully in doing so, has the power to create real positive change.
Campaign: “Toddlers Kill“
Agency: McCann New York
Brand: Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence