If presented correctly, Public Service Announcements are often times a very effective mechanism when trying to influence an audience’s opinion on a given issue or topic. Australia’s recent “Set Yourself Free” PSA has gone viral all over the world since its release a couple weeks ago. This is probably due to the extreme and unexpected shock value it presents to its viewers. The PSA features 2 cliche teenage Australian couples who appear to be cutting school as they strip off their uniforms down to their bathing suits and head for a day at the beach. Unbeknownst to the rebelling teens, they actually wind up at a beach that has been restricted for explosive testing and thus 3/4 get brutally annihilated by land mines. Guess they should have thought twice before ditching the safe haven environment that high school provides. While the PSA shocked audiences everywhere and has not since been forgotten, it may in fact not have been as credible as everyone thinks, with some even speculating the video may have had satirical intentions. A new article by Lance Richardson that was published on slate.com does a good job explaining how the video may be a fraud, check out this quick recap:
For starters, a message flashes across the screen at the end of the video stating that it was “brought to you” by western Australia’s nonprofit Learn for Life Foundation, which promotes continued education. Seems legitimate enough, right? However when taking a closer look at the website, Richardson raises a good point when he find that the website features only generic stock photos of smiling people and offers no real information on the organization, the work they have done, or any contact information. Things are getting a little fishier, aren’t they? Further cementing the organization’s illegitimacy is the fact that the only external link the website offers its visitors is to the video’s directorial team, Henry& Aaron. Henry Inglis and Aaron McCann are film makers with a history of producing unsettling advertisements. Richardson also points out that the two are also well known comedians. What a coincidence. While the film makers were unclear as to whether or not the PSA was simply an “elaborate prank” when speaking with Richardson, but its probably safe to assume that “Inglis and McCann invented the Foundation for the sake of the joke.”
With all of this irrefutable evidence surrounding the PSA’s legitimacy, its pretty hard to deny the fact that the “Set Yourself Free” video is nothing but a hoax. So now the question transitions from if the ad is a fraud to why this fake ad was created. To me, it seems rather obvious that the fraudulent PSA was created as a publicity stunt for the film makers, Henry and Aaron. And when taking into account just how much attention they have received from the prank, its pretty hard to argue the fact that the stunt was incredibly successful.
To watch the full video, click here.