Alabama’s Mass Shooting PSA: More Scary Than Helpful

After a series of random massacres last year, Americans are feeling a little sensitive (for once) toward simulated depictions of gun violence. And while a government video about how to react in such a situation might be welcome, the Alabama Department of Homeland Security’s advice “RUN HIDE FIGHT” is a total fail.

They might’ve had good intentions, but the advice is too basic to teach you much–and everything else is way too detailed for comfort. Leaving zilch to the imagination, “RUN HIDE FIGHT” won’t make you more likely to survive a mass shooting; it’ll just make you cower in fear and weep for humanity’s sake.

Let’s break all its problems down…

1. This Film Is Not Yet Rated

Do we really need the tense, Hitchcock-worthy orchestral score? The bone-chilling screams? The copious red splatter? Women crying “help us, help us” and “oh my god”?

Not that there’s anything wrong with realism in cinema, but come on. (Also, this isn’t cinema.) The level of detail in “RUN HIDE FIGHT” is beyond gratuitous. Can’t the victims just bleed rainbows or something?

2. Be Afraid… Be Very Afraid

Statistics of recent mass shootings flash across the screen, as the shooter enters a building full of workers. “It may feel like just another day at the office,” says a narrator, “but occasionally, life feels more like an action movie than reality… sometimes bad people do bad things.”

Occasionally? Sometimes? You do laundry occasionally and shave your balls sometimes. The sensationalistic video makes it clear that every single American needs to “be aware and be prepared.” There’s a fine line between preparedness and paranoia. How common is this scenario again? (Wait, don’t answer that.)

3. Assumes Viewers Are Idiots

Although “RUN HIDE FIGHT” nominally encourages teamwork, it’s clear your first priority is looking out for number one: “Encourage others to leave with you, but don’t let them slow you down with indecision,” and “always try to escape or evacuate, even if others insist on staying.” (Who would insist on staying? Your boss? Are those TPS reports so important?)

“Remember what’s important: you, not your stuff,” the narrator tells us. “Leave your belongings behind.” Would anybody seriously worry about their iPhone at this moment?

Probably, yes, so the video also suggests, “Silence your ringer.” For when your friends and family–just as dumb as you–call to ask about the shooting in your office on TV right now.

4. Not Quite Reassuring

The “FIGHT” segment of “RUN HIDE FIGHT” encourages viewers to improvise weapons, such as a fire extinguisher or a chair. Spoiler alert: if you replace “rock, paper, scissors” with “fire extinguisher, chair, semiautomatic rifle,” guess which one wins?

Also, when a SWAT team canvasses the halls–walking past bodies strewn all over the floor–the narrator lectures, “The first responders on the scene are not there to evacuate or tend to the injured.” Oh yeah, “Keep your hands visible at all times,” because if a psycho doesn’t shoot you intentionally, a cop might do it unintentionally.

Instead of “RUN HIDE FIGHT,” maybe they should’ve just titled it “RUN HIDE S**T YOURSELF,” because that’s exactly what you’ll do after watching it.

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Marty Beckerman (@martybeckerman) is the Associate Editor of Guy Code Blog