So some of my favorite bloggers are deriding the city of Boston to their reaction of the advertising devices left under bridges and highways as part of a marketing scheme for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force feature-length film coming out in March. The full story can be found here.
I wanted to leave a comment on some of these blogs, but I figured that it would be easier just to summarize here.
Some of the things I read had the following spin: "How could they not know that these weren't bombs" "how could the "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" the 'best cartoon ever' characters not be recognized" "why is the media being so accusatory of Turner Networks" "why are they such alarmists" "the Boston Police were ridiculous" "How could anyone think this marketing scheme was anything but brilliant" and the list goes on. Here's how I feel about the deal.
1. When you put anything not readily identifiable under a major roadway or under a bridge which enables a major subway line to cross a large river, it's not cool. I don't give a shit if it IS an effing lite brite. The point is, you didn't tell anyone what you're doing, and when you live in this day and age and in this region of the country, something that looks like a box with wires coming out of it attached to a battery pack is going to arouse suspicion.
2. How could the Boston, Transit, and State Police have responded in any other way besides cautious? Like I said, they had no idea what these things were, and even after they recovered them, they still didn't. Despite the fact that there are many folks out there who think that Aqua Teen Hunger Force is the "best cartoon ever" I would never recognize a character from it, and I can guarantee you that most police officers probably wouldn't either. I live with a state trooper, I know these things, trust me!
3. If these HAD been bombs, which I understand they weren't, but had they been, and had the police allowed traffic to cross bridges and drive under and over overpasses and allowed the trains to keep running over the Charles and god-forbid something happened, their asses would've been on a platter. This city has let things slide in the past - I hate to harp on 9/11 but two of the planes came right out of our airport. While we'll never really understand what it's like to have a plane take down two of our buildings and I hope we never experience that either, what we do understand is how it feels to know that your city's system failed and let a big part of 9/11 happen. Yeah, I think they would've done it anyways, but Logan Airport just made it all the easier. A lot of our people were on those planes and we haven't forgotten how we were walked all over- how could we, it's on security video and it's played all the time up here when anyone references the hijackings. So when there's any kind of scare, those memories have to come flooding back and the authorities get cautious and defensive. And while it may seem ridiculous to some, irritating to others, I will 10 out of 10 times vote for erring on the side of caution. You don't want me to take liquids on a plane? Fine, done. You want me to wait outside the station while you put the bomb dogs down there for a routine check? Go ahead, I have all the time and convenience in the world when it comes to my safety. I have rights, and one of those rights is the freedom from fear, to not have to think twice about boarding a train or a bus in the city in which I work, and if a little bit of time and effort is required on my part, it's ok. I know the CLU has very different feelings about this and I respect that, but this is how I feel.
4. I think the city handled this extremely well. Traffic was a bit of an issue for part of the day, as was public transportation, but did the city "shut down"? Absolutely not. I got to work and school fine yesterday, and had I been caught in the midst of everything (because I passed over the "advertising" locations several times yesterday) I still would've managed to get home at a reasonable hour. The media was indeed ridiculous, but aren't they always? I saw no one panicking because of anything they saw on CNN. Our police officers were calm and efficient and our public officials were pissed but perfectly rational. We took care of the issue and went about our daily lives. A lot of us, me included, weren't even on top of things enough to realize that the whole "bomb scare" was going on around us. I crossed the Longfellow Bridge right before the police shut it down, and the Park Street station had been closed when my train got there, yet I had no idea. Why? Because the police, mayor and governor weren't sure what they were dealing with, but they were sure that there was no need to panic. Those who they felt were threatened in anyway were dealt with appropriately, everyone else told to be vigilant. Nothing too heavy. I appreciate that, especially since I am a huge proponent of "let's not panic until we have something about which to panic" (except when it comes to natural disasters because I was panicking for the people of Louisiana and Mississippi 2 days before Katrina hit. Probably more than that a-hole governor and mayor were. Seriously, I sat in Virginia completely distressed at what I saw on the radar. So don't ever f*ck with natural disasters. Panic, pack up your sh*t, and leave, don't wait until elected officials tell you to panic, by then, I guarantee you it will be too late).
5. As for punishing those who did this - yes, I know we weren't the only city to have these things planted, yes I know they were planted several weeks ago and we're just seeing them now, but to set up these little lite brite devices and their battery pack and stuff under a bridge is just shady. What's even stranger is not telling anyone about it. Yeah it can be a whole nice surprise for everyone to see the little lightboards and crap you don't have to ruin the surprise by telling everyone, but couldn't you just drop a line to the police so they know how to respond when people talk about suspicious packages under bridges?? When you don't fess up to placing these items and when no one knows what they are and you bother 3 separate police forces, the coast guard, the governor, the mayor, the mbta and the interstates, that's when you get in big ass trouble. That's when people start talking lawsuits and money. You've cost us time, money, and patience. Not so cool. If someone had just said something to someone from the very beginning, all this could've been avoided, because trust me, the police probably felt pretty dumb when they found out that they had been detonating glorified lite brites all day, never mind the fact that they've completely wasted their time on some trivial sh*t that no one really cares about.
Well thank you for letting me rant. Don't hate on Boston for responding like this. We're a cool city, maybe not as well acquainted with "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" as other regions of the nation, but forgive us, for we have the Red Sox and the Patriots, so there's not huge amount of time we can dedicate to the Cartoon Network. We're pretty practical folk, the natives at least, stoic New Englanders who don't make a fuss about too much, just know for the city to go to great lengths it's because they had a valid concern. Hope that wherever you live that they would respect the safety of the residents enough to take whatever action they thought was necessary to ensure your protection.