Aqua Teen Hunger Force (ATHF) is one of a new breed of “you love it or you hate it” cartoon shows. Generally, my friends and I all think it’s hysterical, though I don’t love it to such a degree that I do anything besides watching it on televison (e.g. I don’t post to ATHF web forums).
But now ATHF is in the news for a rather negative reason. It bombed. Well, someone thought it bombed. Or, more specifically, the Boston Metropolitan Police Department mistook an urban marketing campaign as an attempted terrorist attack, and ended up evacuating
large small parts of downtown Boston and had bomb squads detonate the “suspicious devices”. Seriously.
Just read the article for all of the gory details. What a colossal understanding. At least Cartoon Network is going to get a lot of publicity out of this, and more people will have heard of ATHF than ever before. Fox News’ attempt to summarize the show in one sentence is hysterical, by the way: “The show is an animated comedy about three detectives in the shape of human-sized food products that live together in a rental house in New Jersey.”
But alas, it’s not all fun and games.
“No matter who did this, I think there’s probably enough evidence I think the Boston Police Department, the bureau, state police — everybody will probably get together … I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone charged in this. This is an extremely serious situation,” former FBI Director Bill Gavin told FOX News during the investigation.
“Whoever did this — whether it be kids or adults — if they think it’s funny, I think they’ll soon learn it’s not that much of a humorous situation.”
So, it’s now a crime to make the police look foolish? I don’t think anyone can legitimately claim that they were attempting to cause terrorism, and the advertising campaign was pulled off without a hitch in other cities. So what exactly are they guilty of?
Update: CNN has a better article which actually includes images of the “devices”. Basically, the devices used a pattern of lit LEDs to make the shape of a Mooninite. They had already been in place for weeks in ten other cities, but apparently Boston over-reacted.
Update 2: Someone discovered these two weeks ago and posted some pictures on Flickr. Slashdot also has a story up now (with some good comments). This story is front page on all of the news sites right now (it just has the perfect angle), and suffice it to say, it will definitely be mentioned in nightly news segments. Best guerrilla urban marketing ever? Look at all the exposure they’re getting out of, literally, circuit boards of LEDs with four D batteries taped on.
Update 3: A diarist on DailyKOS has much the same reaction as I did. He’s blaming it on an utter over-reaction by the police as well. I was reading the CNN article and it had this line in it: “Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis called it “unconscionable” that the marketing campaign was executed in a post 9/11 era.” Oh really? It’s unconscionable? What the hell does “In a post 9/11 era really mean?” Does it mean we’re supposed to jump at shadows and pee our pants in fear? If so, the terrorists have already won.