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 wonder 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?
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.
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…
…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?
The latest safety video offered by Air New Zealand could be an example of entertainment gone too far: while I have no objection whatsoever to the video, it has generated quite a bit of controversy as evidenced by this petition:
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 these shown below — and if for some reason the safety videos do not appear below, the links to the safety videos have been provided:
I have a really difficult time paying attention to the two safety videos above. 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 videos above.
Please let me know what are your thoughts about safety videos in the Comments section below. Meanwhile, please pass the popcorn…