In The Guardian, Alexis Petridis penned a fantastic reflection on the UK's scary public information films of the 1960s to 1980s. For more than 60 years, the government's Central Office of Information (COI) created FUD-fostering films about talking to strangers, playing with matches, sticking things in electric outlets, rabies, slippery floors, etc. (Back in 2009 at BB Gadgets, Rob put together a remarkable compendium of such films!) The COI was shut down last week due to funding cuts. From The Guardian:
The public information films aimed at children seem to speak of a different age of parenting, when you kept the kids in line by the simple expedient of terrifying them ("Get a move on or the Yorkshire Ripper'll get you!" as my mother used to say) and/or thumping them: quick and pointed and vicious, they were the cinematic equivalent of a smack on the legs. The ones aimed at adults, meanwhile, offer a weird index of largely forgotten fears. You watch them and think: whatever happened to rabies? It seemed to be an ever-present menace during my childhood. All it was going to take was one irresponsible Frenchman to smuggle his poodle through customs and we were going to be facing what one public information film called "death in a manner that is beyond description". I assumed it had been eradicated but no: rabid bats were found in Scotland in 2009. It's hard to imagine the COI in its prime would have missed the opportunity to turn that news into 60 seconds of matchless terror, perhaps involving jolly footage of people tossing the caber, massed pipe bands etc, interspersed with images of a child convulsing and foaming at the mouth and a solemn voiceover: "One wee boy won't be enjoying the Highland games this year."
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