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Everyday people do ordinary things that are fraught with danger: riding a bicycle, driving a car, eating a steak. All are things that have the potential to seriously harm the individual. Some of those activities are why it is so important to keep the public informed about how to keep safe while doing those activities. That is where public service announcements, or PSAs, come into play; whether it is driving distractedly, child abuse, body images, or drunk driving, PSAs have a profound impact on the viewers they are broadcasted to. Public service announcements are responsible for informing the viewers about the dangers associated with certain activities and the consequences involved in engaging in that activity.

Shown in the first image is a couple driving in a car. On the left side, in the driver’s seat, is a young male distracted by his phone; on the right side, in the passenger’s seat, is a young female distracted by a map and the male. In the rearview mirror, the couple’s daughter is shown looking out the windshield window where the couple has hit a young boy. Bold white and red text proclaims: “Think of both sides”. This image was especially appealing because of the pathos involved with the image. The PSA really invokes emotion from the audience. The audience is comprised of motorists, especially parents of young children. The message of this PSA is clear: parents would not want his or her child being hit by other distracted drivers. The darkness of the image evokes the sadness from the audience as they feel helpless as they see a young boy about to be run over. Text at the bottom of the image reveals that the number of accidents increase during the holidays, implying that drivers should take extra precautions during that time. Though the text is not necessary, it adds to the pathos of the dark image, which contributes to the somber tone of the picture.

The second image is of a young boy with a black eye. Only the young boy’s face is visible against a black background. The text, “He has his mother’s eyes” is visible across the boy’s face. The audience for this still image is abuse survivors and parents of young children. This image is especially interesting because of how it portrays not only the child abuse victim, but also with how it implies that his mother is a victim of abuse as well. This image uses dark images and pathos to evoke the viewer to feel sympathetic towards the boy depicted in the public service announcement. This is one example of a PSA where both the image and the text are of equal importance, but convey different messages. Abuse is never right, especially when done to women and children, is what the image is portraying. Without the text present in the image, the PSA would only achieve the goal of informing others about child abuse, however there would be no context as for how the boy was abuse or why it is important.

The third image shows a sketch of a skinny woman with long legs wearing a black dress on the left with the human representation of what that sketch would look like on the right. The text says, “You are not a sketch. Say no to anorexia.” The image is targeted primarily to young girls who starve themselves so they can be model thin. The PSA uses logic and real scary imagery to show how sketches and drawings of women are in no way representative of real women, and it tries to persuade women to accept themselves as they are. The text for this image is not as necessary as some, as the message is conveyed, though not as clearly, through the use of the visual. This PSA differs from the others with the fact that it is very bright, uses cream colors and a handwritten font. This design is purposeful, as it gives the appearance of a sketchbook that someone wrote it to offer advice to others. This choice allows the PSA to become more personal to the audience, as they will be more likely to relate to the image.

The fourth image is a picture of two beer cans from a top-down perspective. On the first can the image of a young boy riding his bike is seen as the can is closed. On the right side of the image the can is open and the boy has vanished. Text appears above both cans in Spanish, but is translated to “Now you see me, now you don’t”. The audience of the public service announcement is beer drinkers, especially those beer drinkers who drive. The impact of the PSA is to show drinkers that drinking can severely impact one’s judgement and even cause the drinker to not see certain very important things. Though the image has text, it is not needed to understand the impact of the image. The creator of the image was Fiat, a popular European car company, which lends to the ethos of the image that already contains a great deal of pathos. The logic applied to the argument Fiat is trying to make is that driving impairs judgement, something that many people commonly know.

While the images may seem completely different on the surface, they all serve one purpose, and that is to keep the public safe from everyday dangers. Some images do that with dark colors and somber moods, others do it brightly, with pictures that the audience can relate to. Overall, these pictures do fantastic jobs at informing the public about the dangers of some of the acts depicted, as well as showing the costly consequences of those actions. Distracted driving is never right, so the first image is very just in depicting such a harsh scene to really show people what happens when they become distracted by cellular devices. The last image goes along with the first, contrasting distracted driving with drunk driving, both images, however, get the same result. If one is not focused while driving, someone else could lose his or her life. Abuse is just as bad, and can cause more damage to a person than being struck by a vehicle, as the effects of abuse are not only physical, but emotional and psychological as well. Eating disorders are not something to take lightly, as they are as much of a problem as depression is. Public service announcements achieve their goals of spurring some to action and preventing others from taking action.


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