« Two dogs, two kids, one mom and a Veterinarian with one arm = one crazy afternoon. | Main | Blogging and Archeology »

February 06, 2009

Digital billboards don't have the light stuff

Laura Yes, there’s been some controversy here in L.A. over digital billboards. You might have read about it here, here or even here.


They pollute the city landscape. They’re popping up everywhere. They keep people up at night with their flickering lights intruding into bedroom windows. In other words: Suck it, you oversized Lite-Brites.


Those are just a smattering of the complaints from local citizens. (“Suck it” emphasis mine.)


Now, I like to fancy myself a gadget-friendly Angeleno. I became addicted to my "crackberry," getting a high akin to a triple espresso or something that bordered on maniacal every time that red light would blink, alerting me to the latest (no doubt scintillating) message.


So when I saw these digital billboards around the city, I was amazed. My eyes grew huge, “Wall-E”-style, each time I would look up at those shiny lights that would change every few seconds, greeting me with something new and equally shiny to sell me.


I thought they were great – that is, until my 2-year-old came along for the ride.


I was driving her home from daycare the other day when I heard her say, “What’s that?” from the back seat. I turned around and saw her pointing at, yes, a digital billboard. This one had Mickey Mouse on it, happily cuddling a birthday cake. The ad itself said something like, “Disneyland: Free Admission on your Birthday.”


“Mickey Mouse,” I said. “That’s Mickey Mouse. Look. Look.”


She pointed and smiled. I pointed and smiled. I felt like the whole world was pointing and smiling with us. Who could not love the super, extra-bright Mickey Mouse in all of his digital glory? And he was offering something for free. What was wrong with these crazies? What kind of misanthrope could possibly complain about Mickey rocking out with a birthday cake in hi-def?


But then the freaking billboard changed.


And I’m not talking changed to Minnie Mouse or Donald Duck or even freaky-deaky Goofy. I’m talking rated-R horror-porn pic of the week, “The Uninvited.”


For those of you who haven’t seen the print ads for “The Uninvited,” picture this: Black-and-white grainy face of a devil-child peering into some dusty, grimy window. At you. But get this: Devil-child has no face! It’s just empty, terrifying blackness. Even Rosemary’s baby would be freaked out by this kid.


“Don’t look! Don’t look!” I shouted at my daughter like a mad woman.


She looked at me, perplexed. Then she looked back at the digital deception that used to be offering freebie theme-park goodness.


Where did you go, Mickey? Don’t break my heart, Mickey.


Luckily we were at a stoplight that turned green about the time I was weighing whether to throw a blanket over my child's head in order to distract her from this horrific scene. She didn’t look particularly scarred, but that might come out in therapy years from now. We’ll see.


As for me, I’m the one who’s scarred. Here I had counted on this billboard -- this pretty, shiny, technologically advanced billboard -- to guarantee that its content (all of its content) would be in the same vein as the first image I saw. I had gotten a G-rated glimpse that had quickly and unpredictably turned into R-rated madness. And I had shown that to my child.


Now I don’t want to sound like Prudie McPrudster, but shouldn’t billboard content have some sort of consistency? Not like all bunnies all the time, but child-friendly vs. extremely child-unfriendly? Maybe I’m being naïve. I mean, ads are all about shock value. And now you can shock drivers and onlookers by virtue of not allowing them to know what’s coming next.


Good plan, billboard guys. Now what was I saying about oversized Lite-Brites?


Original L.A. Moms Blog post


Laura Clark also writes at her blog, L.A. Story, when she's not telling billboards to suck it.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Digital billboards don't have the light stuff :


Archive - LA Moms Blog

Lijit Search

Receive the SV Moms Group Newsletter
For Email Newsletters you can trust

Our Sister Sites

NJ Moms
Deep South Moms

Media & Press - Los Angeles