The Kids Aren’t Alright: A Public Service Announcement

Be safe.Depending on your point of view, Volkswagen should be lauded or eviscerated for the music that it has been using in its television spots (including Son Volt, Lemon Jelly, John Dragonetti, and other tunes). It is quite evident that the German automaker (which, by the way, produces those Beetles in Mexico, not the Black Forrest, so don’t imagine that there are clever overall-wearing technicians or even elves building the bugs) is looking to score with a younger automotive customer, perhaps hoping against hope that someday the kids will grow into financially sound adults who will be able to spend on the order of $85,000 to $100,000 (in today’s dollars) to buy a VW Phaeton—that’s right: A Volkswagen that’s going for a tenth of a million dollars. You can buy a lot of discs, components, concert tickets, liquor, and pharmaceuticals for that kind of scratch—and still have cash left over to buy a set of wheels.

But the question that arises is whether that targeted demographic won’t end up as, well, targets of the vehicles that they are riding in. Broken. Maimed. Dead. Incapable of buying Volkswagens or even the tunes behind the VW commercials. That is, Volkswagen of America recently conducted a survey among American teens. The question was whether they wear seat belts. And why they don’t, because many of them don’t. Apparently, in 2001 there were more than 5K teens who didn’t live to see their 20s because they died in traffic accidents. Of that number, two-thirds (~33-1/3 K) weren’t wearing seat belts.

The reasons why teens don’t wear belts are simply stupid. The number one reason? “Uncool.” That is the response of 32% surveyed. Let see, there’s that asinine little flower vase that’s attached to the instrument panel of the New Beetle: Great! a flower available in real-time for the funeral parlor display. That’s quite cool. The second reason, coming in at 30%, is “Uncomfortable.” In the grand scheme of things—or, since we’re dealing with life and death issues here, that probably should be Grand Scheme of Things—that nylon strap is probably somewhat less annoying, than, oh, a funeral urn. (OK. Not everyone who gets in an accident while not wearing a seat belt isn’t DOA. So let’s just compare the seat belt constriction with a full-body cast.) One of the explanations behind the “Uncomfortable” response is that the seat belt “wrinkles clothes.” Ah, sartorial splendor smeared across the asphalt.

The National High Traffic Safety Administration, which is interested in such things as people being comparatively safe while hurling down strips of pave in two-tons of mass at speeds all of which can kill you, won’t tell you this quite this way, but we will:

Wear Your Fucking Seatbelts, Teens (So Perhaps Some Day You Can Get To Be As Ill-Tempered As Those Of Us Here At GloNo)

10 thoughts on “The Kids Aren’t Alright: A Public Service Announcement”

  1. Thanks, Stephen, for bringing it to our attention. What gets done with the info is another story, and the cynical side of me isn’t sure what’s the best way to get the message to stick. I mean, everyone knows that you’re invincible at 21, and besides, car accidents are something that only happen to other people, not ME. (For the record, I’ve been in a couple accidents, was wearing a seatbelt, and am not suffering any physical abnormalities today as a result of said accidents.) Put ’em on, kiddies; you might thank us later.

  2. No doubt, I know someone who’s been in a coma for three years due to a one-car accident and no seat belt. They do wonders. Besides, they’re only annoying or uncomfortable for the first few times you wear it, then you get used to it.

  3. While I agree that teen are indeed stupid for not wearing their seat belts, I don’t see what this has to do with music and the glorious noise that it is.

  4. …thus the reason that it’s a Public Service Announcement. Nathan, Stephen Mc assumes rightly that occasionally teens read this, so as a public service, he’s telling them to buckle up. So they can continue to listen to music, get older and turn into jaded cynics like you and me!!

  5. Okay, point taken DJ. I suppose if one teen reads it and buckles his seat belt, that would be a good thing.

    I was a little irritated another music publication which lately had had a lot of non music content (does an article about a guy with a huge penis belong in Rolling Stone?).

    Then I saw the “public service announcement” here and started to think the same thing.

  6. Nathan:

    Consider it this way:

    “Rock and Roll Can Save Your Life.”


    (And you’ve got to admit, of all of the people shilling cars, VW is undoubtedly the most music-centric in its spots, so there is some tie-in beyond click-it-or-ticket. Hmm. . .I wonder if any vehicle manufacturer ever used tunes from the Crash Test Dummies. . . .)

  7. I’m a 17 year old girl who is a frequent reader of this site, and while I do appreciate Glono’s concern for the safety of my generation, can you please just stick to rock and roll in the future? Jesus Christ, I get enough of this shit from the counselors at school.

    Save your public service announcements for teens who are too distracted with emulating Avril and cranking up their woofers to 11 to buckle up. “Uncomfortable?” “Wrinkles clothing?” WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE, AND WHY MUST I BE CATEFORIZED WITH THEM?

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