There’s a commercial for BMW running on TV right now featuring, as most car commercials do, a gorgeous vehicle taking hairpin turns down a mountain pass. In the car is a young boy with his arm out the window, feeling the wind rush by. A disclaimer runs across the bottom of the screen warning something to effect of: “Sticking your arm out the window is dangerous. Don’t do it.”
One end of a Hershey candy bar wrapper has the words “Open Here” printed on it.
Back in the early days of “Saturday Night Live”, there was a sketch with Dan Aykroyd as the sleezy CEO of “Mainway Toys”, a company that sold extremely dangerous toys to children: action figures with knives in them, Doggie Dentist, bag o’ spiders, and, also in the bag-o line, “Bag O’ Broken Glass” which was just a big plastic bag of, well, broken glass. When called on the safety issue, Mainway points out the disclaimer on the bag’s label: “Hey, Kid. Be careful. Broken glass.”
We’ve all read warning labels on products that sound to us like Mainway wrote them. McDonald’s coffee is hot. Don’t stick your hand in the power saw. That floor over there? Slippery when wet.
We can laugh. We DO laugh. But the fact is, warnings like this (okay, maybe not Mainway’s) get written by lawyers because some dumbass, somewhere, tried it once. The Hershey’s wrapper thing surely originated with some bizarre tale of events spiralling downward from unwrapping some candy to, I don’t know, leveling an entire city block.
Meanwhile, things we really do need protection from, we ignore. Guns. Fatty food. The more warnings the professionals level at us, the more we push back. Bigger clips for assault rifles. A restaurant in Las Vegas that serves a burger called “The Heart Attack”.
Save your money BMW and Hershey. We know what’s bad for us. We just want to hear it from the Mainway guy.