Let's All Watch This Ping Pong Ball Ad And Call It A Day
Fine, this is Terry Gilliam's 'Brazil' not the Ohio Department of Health.

We came across this nifty public service announcement for the social distancing on the Twitter machine, and we thought it was pretty cool! Especially since it's a nod to one of our favorite odd bits of movie history, updated for the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, take a gander. But not a proper gander, because this is not Fox News.

That's some pretty good social distancing/social media!

Ping-pong balls on mousetraps close together, you get a load more ping-pong balls spreading gross ping-pong viral droplets, and everyone's sick. Ping-pong balls farther apart, and nobody gets it, see? (OK, fewer people get it, but that's where the randomness of the ping-pong demonstration breaks down, it's only a metaphor anyway, shut up.)

Now, as it happens, the metaphorical room full of viral ping-pong balls is an homage to one of our favorite scenes from one of our favorite weirdass Disney movies, "Our Friend the Atom" (1957), which first aired on Disney's "Wonderful World of Color" TV show, and was shown as an educational film to a generation or two of school kids. In that hilariously dated "Atoms for Peace" nuclear propaganda, we learn that the atom is a lot like a genie — dangerous if unleashed, but like any slave, useful if the master exercises careful control. Which, come to think of it, was also the message of Song of the South.

Coincidentally, neither film has been in general release for decades, but we digress.

"Our Friend the Atom" used the roomful of ping-pong balls not as a metaphor for contagion, but as a model of how a nuclear chain reaction happens:

Our friend the atom, atomic chain reactionyoutu.be

To demonstrate that the reactions in power reactors are more controlled, the film just cheated and ran the scene in slow motion before talking about control rods and such.

Getting back to the Ohio health department PSA: It was produced by the firm Real Art, and video team lead Andy Nick took to Twitter today with a confession about the making of the ad: It's actually FAKE MOUSETRAPS! Or at least fake mousetraps, plus a perfect toss in one take.

And now you know ... the REST of the story! Good day!

Or not quite, because clearly we need to game out the public health implications of all this:

Give this guy and his agency lots of work; we like the cut of his jib.

Also, as the image up top suggests, we appreciate the sentiment of "We're in this together," because we really are, aren't we? But we'd find the slogan a little bit more reassuring if it hadn't been played for such dark laughs in Brazil, where rogue heating and air conditioning technicians said it to spread solidarity, but the dystopian government also used it as a cudgel to keep people in line.

At least the graffiti anarchists were able to re-subvert the propaganda version to reflect the reality: We really are all in the shit together.

Have a lovely evening, don't step on any virus-laden mousetraps, and enjoy your OPEN THREAD.

[Ohio Department of Health on Twitter / Brainpickings / Andy Nick on Twitter]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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