Earlier this summer, the bus shelter pictured above displayed an ad for the movie, “Central Intelligence,” which depicted two men brandishing and blasting away with guns. But after complaints were raised about the bus shelter’s proximity to nearby schools, the ad was changed to a public service message featuring Smokey the Bear.
It’s probable that the city’s street furniture contractor, a joint venture of billboard giants Outfront Media and JC Decaux, gets considerably more revenue from movie ads than public service messages. That may explain the very temporary hiatus between the offending “Central Intelligence” ad and the gun-displaying ad for the movie, “Suicide Squad” in the bus shelter less than 300 ft. from the grounds of an elementary school and charter high school.
In fact, despite an ongoing debate about gun violence in the U.S., it’s business as usual for billboard companies and the marketing departments of companies like Warner Bros., which produced Suicide Squad. Bus shelters, billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising display often-menacing figures armed to the teeth with pistols, assault rifles, and even more extreme forms of weaponry. These displays of violence, both explicit and implied, can be found near schools, libraries, playgrounds, and other places children and young people congregate.
Violence, and especially, gun violence, obviously sells tickets, or so media companies like Warner Bros. and Universal apparently believe. However, not everyone in the entertainment business agrees that such ad campaigns are appropriate. Lena Dunham, creator and star of the popular HBO series, “Girls”, recently objected to ads for the movie, “Jason Bourne,” calling on people to alter the ads in New York City subways. And closer to home, Venice neighbors and their children recently altered a construction fence plastered with “Jason Bourne” ads by covering the gun images with flowers. That fence is less than a block from a church and pre-school, and half a mile from the aforementioned bus shelter.
For earlier posts on billboards and guns, click here.