One of the hardest things about road safety campaigns is selecting (is that the right word?) the most effective affective resonance. People who understand the anguish and grief produced by road accidents normally pose it as a question: What would you do if one of your mates died? What would you do if you killed someone?
The person posing the question, in my experience, often has an intimate appreciation of the utter despair of loss that follows such a trauma. They know on a different level to the simple facts of the matter. What they communicate to any half brained young person is that they do indeed know and have an experience of the facts beyond their mere facticity, a knowledge that incorporates the slippery sense of loss; a sense that seems to only ever exist in intuition without ever becoming percerptible as such. Many young people are not receptive to these affections of existential suffering, where one mourns not just a person, but an entire future, which only ever remains suspended in the horribly pregnant present.
So far most road safety campaigns have gone the punitive route. The stick and not the carrot. Of either attacking the practical modes of valorisation that circulate within mostly masculine cultures surrounding everyday driving activites or they lull viewers of road safety advertising into a wayward apprehension of the affective timbre of an advertisement by using the parry and thrust of new car advertising and then having the horrible twist at the end of it. These advertisements want to make allegedly problematic drivers feel bad about themselves. As I have noted previously, this is simply not the way to get people to live their lives in a different way.
Seven Pounds, a film starring Will Smith, is the first work of any medium that transcends the interpellative games of the road safety industry and actually works to capture precisely the ‘truth’ of this loss and does so in a remarkably uplifting fashion. Young drivers can think about road safety all they want, but they are always going to reduce it to a bunch of old people throwing questions at them. Young people answer the questions, they don’t change the way they think. They don’t know what loss means. Let them come up with their own ideas about it after seeing this movie. They will get a sense of loss without its facticity.
Seven Pounds will help them with this. It is a striking movie. Get your teenagers to watch it.