Have Safety Videos and Safety Demonstrations Become Too Entertaining?
W ith the entertainment value of safety videos and safety demonstrations in recent years having been increased, have safety videos and safety demonstrations become too entertaining?
There was a time when you had to sit through a live safety presentation by flight attendants who commanded your attention to demonstrate to you such safety procedures as buckling your seat belt; what to do should the oxygen masks fall from the ceiling compartments above your head; and note where the emergency lights and exits are located within the aircraft.
I have wondered if flight attendants sometimes felt like stand-up comedians at a seedy dive nightclub during their performance when noticing that the majority of passengers seemed to be ignoring information which could save their lives in the event of an emergency. Why are they not paying attention? Is it because they will most likely not be tested later on what they saw? Who needs seat belts, anyway?
A recent parody by Funny or Die of a flight attendant giving a hilarious safety demonstration leads to a hypothetical situation where a potential disaster supposedly occurs and some of the passengers remember the levity of the safety demonstration and not the vital information:
…but here are some videos from real flight attendants performing memorable safety demonstrations:
Source: The Facebook Internet web site of TM’z Veterinary Clinic.
Source: The YouTube account of news usa.
Source: The YouTube account of Link Lee.
Source: The YouTube account of xXXxEVOLUTI0NxXXx.
Source: The YouTube account of FUNNYNETVIDS.
A safety presentation need not be humorous to be memorable. Consider this singing flight attendant Robynn Shayne playing the song Royals — originally sung by Lorde — on her guitar aboard an airplane on which I first reported in this article on Wedneday, December 3, 2014:
Source: The YouTube account of Nick Stracener.
Perhaps the main reason is that safety presentations are usually — well — boring. The same information is repeated again and again, over and over, ad nauseum as per the regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States and other governmental regulatory agencies worldwide; and yet — oddly enough — many people could not accurately recite the entire safety demonstration, as witnessed by FlyerTalk members at the Road Warrior Training portion of the 2010 Delta Air Lines FlyerTalk Event. It is difficult enough to watch the same episode of a favorite television program or movie repeatedly; so to expect passengers not to feign interest in safety presentations is an exercise in futility with too much emphasis beyond realistic expectations, to say the least.
However, the advent of technology deemed it possible to relieve flight attendants of performing safety presentations by instead recording them once in a studio or facility somewhere and playing them prior to takeoff on every flight thereafter…
…and thus, the safety video was born.
Ironically, it did not alleviate the repetitiveness; but rather seemed to exacerbate it: not only was the message exactly the same; but also the people presenting the message was exactly the same as well. It may as well have been a new method of torture, as even the flight attendants seemed bored during the playing of the safety video.
As I first reported in this article posted on Friday, July 11, 2014, airlines then started getting creative with the production of safety videos by inserting bits of entertainment in them in the hopes of retaining attention longer from more passengers aboard the aircraft. Insert levity here; promote brevity there, and voilà: here is a more interesting safety video…
Source: The YouTube account of Delta.
…and while I became rather tired of the safety video by Delta Air Lines shown above — now long retired by the airline — it contains just the right mix of levity and brevity while still effectively communicating important information which passengers need to know in the event of an emergency, in my humble opinion.
However — with the increasing trend towards providing more entertainment value — have safety videos lost their focus even though they technically still contain the required information as mandated by government regulatory agencies? Can they potentially have a similar effect on passengers as exhibited in the aforementioned video from Funny or Die?
There was a famous commercial back in the 1980s where an elderly woman barked “Where’s the Beef?” Many people have said that that was a wildly successful commercial; but there were people who were entertained by it and yet did not know for which company that commercial was advertising, which defeated the entire purpose of that commercial — and a similar concern could potentially and possibly be said for the latest crop of airline safety videos and safety demonstrations performed by flight attendants.
A safety video offered by Air New Zealand could be an example of entertainment gone too far: while I had no objection whatsoever to the video, it had generated quite a bit of controversy as evidenced by this petition:
Source: The YouTube account of Air New Zealand.
I do not believe there is any sexual exploitation in the safety video above; nor am I offended in any way whatsoever by what is shown in the video. Truth be told, I am more repulsed by seeing someone’s foot spilling out of her — or, more appropriately to me, his — “flip flop” or sandal.
As a creative person, I do like and encourage the idea of airlines attempting to “spice up” what is typically a bland and repetitive message. Due to some passengers afflicted with pteromerhanophobia — or fear of flight — the airline cannot show a safety video with a recreation of an actual emergency unfolding. Heck — they do not even use the word turbulence anymore: “We are experiencing rough air.” Rough air?!? Please…
…but imagine what a great blockbuster horror movie to which a safety video can aspire — if a video can aspire. Twisted metal, fire, injured people: this is what could happen to you if you do not follow the safety instructions in the unlikely event of an emergency. “Help me put on my oxygen mask first, Daddy!!! I don’t want to die!” shrieks a young child, to which the father replies while struggling: “Son…I must…put on…(gasp)…my…oxygen mask…first…so that…I (wheeze)…can help you…” We are talking potential Academy Award material here.
Gee — I do not want to be burnt to a crisp or have my body fly out to right field like a baseball if anything happened. You bet I will buckle my seat belt!
Alas, the airlines must be sensitive to all of its passengers and not try to invoke fear. I guess I understand it and then again I do not: I would have no problem watching an airline disaster movie while in flight — I suppose I am weird that way…
…but I would go crazy being subject to what I perceive as inane safety videos — such as the one shown below — and if for some reason the safety video does not appear below, here is the link to the Virgin America safety video from 2013:
Source: The YouTube account of Virgin America.
El Al had a similarly inane safety video called Up in 2014; but it has since been removed from the Internet.
I have a really difficult time paying attention to the above safety video. Give me my apocalyptic aviation epic any day. I will even give my full attention to a flight attendant giving a live encore performance of the safety demonstration rather than be forced to watch whatever that dreck — solely my opinion, I know — is shown in the safety video above.
I am also not sure that a safety video — which I had repeatedly witnessed on recent flights operated by Gulf Air on which I was a passenger — where children seem to be delighted to see oxygen masks drop during a flight is the best idea:
Source: The YouTube account of Gulf Air.
I certainly would not want to see safety videos and safety demonstrations go back to the days where they were so boring that no one wants to watch them; but should passengers have a choice of safety videos in the in-flight entertainment system for the passenger to be required to watch, as no form of entertainment value will please everyone?
Please let me know what are your thoughts about the entertainment value of safety videos and safety demonstrations performed by flight attendants in the Comments section below. Meanwhile, please pass the popcorn…
Photograph ©2013 by Brian Cohen.