Tighten your safety briefing: Air New Zealand rebuked over flippant videos

Air New Zealand has been rebuked by the country’s aviation watchdog for burying life-saving messages in amongst celebrity cameos in its pre-flight safety videos. The airline is infamous for its elaborate star-studded clips in which celebrities like Richard Simmons, Bear Grylls and Betty White tell passengers how to respond in an aviation emergency. But an email published by One News on Wednesday revealed that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had criticised the airline for including “extraneous material” in one of its clips – and indicated that the agency had communicated similar concerns in the past. “As we have commented previously, the video diverges materially from the ‘safety message’ at times, and whilst I appreciate the need to engage the viewers, the extraneous material detracts from the scope and direction of the safety message

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How to write the shortest joke in the world

A deer

Quite an interesting article here on how to write short jokes, which should also be of use to writers, especially advertising copywriters.

It begins by suggesting that one of the funniest and shortest jokes is Jimmy Carr’s ‘venison’s dear, isn’t it?’.

Micro-gags like Carr’s also illustrate a central tenet of classical joke craft: for some jokes to work, the teller must remove certain details from the transmission. In the joke above, the spoken information is just four words: (1) venison’s (2) dear (3) isn’t (4) it. Everything else, everything that makes the joke a joke – “venison meat comes from deer, and is also quite expensive, so you could say that deer is dear” – is carefully omitted. This extra information is called the exformation – deliberately discarded, but semantically essential detail. Carr’s joke simply wouldn’t work if all the exformation was included with the transmitted information. But why?

By whittling away the joke to its leanest form and leaving the rest implied through exformation, Carr invites the audience to connect up the dots. Our servile brains jump at the chance to fill in the blanks – automatically and with synaptic haste – and it’s this that makes us laugh. I’m not sure that we have the philosophical or scientific tools to understand exactly why this is, but it probably comes down to an atavistic pleasure mechanism where our neural circuitry is rewarded for empathic behaviour. In other words, the laughter is your brain patting itself on the back for catching Carr’s drift. What could be more social, more communal and more team-building than reading another’s thoughts and understanding more or less what they mean? Certainly, pseudo-mindreading like this would have been evolutionarily advantageous for our ancestors waging war with elemental beasts out there on the pre-metropolitan plains.

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Ladybird books introduce Peter and Jane to hipsters and hangovers

Once famous for its earnest, wholesome books that introduced British children to topics such as space travel, nuclear power and the gunpowder plot, the publisher Ladybird is launching a series of guides to help cynical adults make sense of modern life, from hipsters to hangovers. Embracing the trend for spoof Ladybird editions that juxtapose the twee and genteel imagery with captions rewritten for comic effect, the companysaid its “kidult” range is intended to “enable grown-ups to think they have taught themselves to cope”.

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The flyaway success of the Ladybird art prank

Elia raised £5,000 through Kickstarter to publish the book, painstakingly replicating the design techniques and printing technology used in the original Ladybird books. As encouragement, she put individual pages out on social media. By the time the first edition of 1,000 books had been released, at £20 apiece, it had gone viral. Retribution was swift, and it came not from the art establishment but from corporate publishing, with a lawyer’s letter from Penguin threatening legal action for breach of copyright unless sales were halted. Not only had she copied the style and named the children Peter and Jane, she had also cited Ladybird on the cover, brushing aside the reservations of her graphic designer father with the words: “It’s an artwork. I can do what I like.”

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