Face it: No one likes to sit through a dull but necessary airline safety video. Your plane's about to depart and it's already been an ordeal getting to the airport, getting through security checkpoints, getting onto the plane, getting your bulging carry-on bag wedged into the overhead compartment and climbing over the old drowsy woman to get into your seat. The last thing you want to pay attention to is a droll, TV screen attendant instructing you how to buckle the seat buckle you've probably already buckled.
It was a pleasure, then, to view this delightfully animated, amusing safety video on Virgin America a few years back, featuring a matador seated next to a bull and a nun on her laptop, among other things. It used sharp, whimsical humor and creative animation to underscore its serious instructions, and had a reassuring, engaging quality that all other safety videos I'd seen had lacked.
Imagine my horror then, the next time I flew Virgin America, and witnessed this abomination: a five-minute long, professionally-choreographed singing and dancing video, complete with a young girl rapping the oxygen mask instructions, a Devo/Kraftwerk-inspired team in dark suits to demonstrate life preservers, and a young boy with an Afro to lip synch the no-smoking warning in a baritone voice.
It's expertly done, it's wonderfully produced, and it completely, utterly fails at its job. You become so distracted by the song and visuals you pay almost no attention to anything they are saying. I'm sure the video has a lot of fans, living in our narcissistic, celebrity-driven age (if this Times Square "opening" is any indication), but I was relieved to learn that a video this wrongheaded was only being used on one airline.
Take it away, El Al Israel, with your cheesy 1980s music video sendup. Or how about Kiwi Air's disco safety instructions, featuring none other than Richard Simmons? And maybe the lamest performance I've seen yet, these live dancing Cebu Flight attendants! (There is also a version with females.)
The last thing I will ever accuse myself of being is a grumpy old man on his porch rocker, but something just feels wrong and untrustworthy about an airline that interprets its safety policy as an episode of Dancing With the Stars. Sorry, YouTube subscribers, but I find this an embarrassing, ill-conceived trend that needs to have its recliner button pushed and be put to sleep. Immediately.
Or maybe we just need more Hobbits.