Oh my dear friends (I can make that plural right?), I must ask that you take a moment to watch the following freaky-ass promotional video trying to sell a terrorist zapping doodad. Then you can proceed to my comments below about some of the most disturbing things about this device and the video.

the device

1) Topping the list is the fact that they open the video with footage from 9-11. I mean, really. Really? Your fear-mongering is so transparent, and your methods so hackneyed I feel you must be more than a bit dim. (For that comment I felt it necessary to directly address the makers of the film, for emphasis.)

2) Next is the tone; they have flawlessly employed the eerily soothing, bright and shiny and squeaky clean aesthetic also perfected by airlines in those emergency instruction cards that make an airline crash look like a day at Disneyland. For example, below are graphics illustrating an air marshal shooting someone in the head, and a crew member scrambling someone’s central nervous system. Who could object to a little purple silhouette crumpled on the floor?

air marshal zapping terrorist

3) I love how they introduce the bracelet as an electronic ID bracelet – with passenger information on it – to make traveling easier for passengers. As if the fact that it can incapacitate you with debilitating and painful electrical charges is, like, a side feature – like a camera on a mobile.

the pros

4) When they do drop the bomb and mention how it can be “further equipped with EMD technology” (as if that wasn’t the whole point of the device and this absurd video) I luv luv LUV that they don’t even say what EMD is, they just drop it in fine print there at the bottom “Electro Muscular Disruption”. Like “maybe you won’t notice how disturbing it is if we don’t say it out loud.”


5) Of course, of course, crew members are the ones with their fingers on the button in this situation – despite the fact that earlier in the video the makers dismiss certain airport scanning technology because “technology is only as good as the people using it” and airport employees “seldom have the necessary police training.” And flight attendants will be more reliable as stand-ins for the police, why? They even say that thinking of the crew as the last line of defense is “not reassuring”! So thinking of the bracelet, in the control of the crew, IS reassuring? WTF? Sigh.

And anyways, how long do you suppose before some pissed off, overworked, underpaid flight attendant decides to zap an obnoxious passenger? About as quick as you can say “air rage” I’d think.

6) And of course there’s the classic “it’s such a small inconvenience to the individual” line of argument, meant to distract us from the Big Picture implications of tagging us like livestock. And boy, do they pour on the “wholesome America” imagery. Gag. I quote:

To a businessman on his way home to be reunited with his family, or to a young family going south for a winter holiday, wearing an EMD safety bracelet for a few hours during a flight is a small inconvenience to ensure their safe arrival

Ugh..family…..blah….family….blah blah….blah…..Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Children!!!??! Cuz you’re children don’t need to grow up in a world with privacy rights you know!

7) To continue,

We feel, if given a choice of taking a flight employing the added security of the EMD security bracelet system and taking a flight without the additional security, many, if not most, passengers would happily opt for the extra security of the EMD safety bracelet.


Which brings me to my more practical question about implementation…..

8 ) Would this bracelet become a requirement? Because in the cute little “if given the choice” line, they imply, well, that you’d be given a choice, right? This is a lose-lose situation really. If you’re not given a choice, well, fuck, that’s just terribly invasive. And if you are given a choice, and you choose to live as a free and enlightened human being who is aware of the creeping surveillance state and doesn’t like being told to behave under the threat of an electric shock and you choose not to wear it…..?

How likely do you suppose it is that your bags will be searched, and your name will end up on one of those lists the public isn’t allowed to see and you never ever travel without hassles again? Or at the very least that the (already notoriously paranoid and aggressive) security folks will treat you like garbage? I’d be scared to opt out, and if I was traveling with any slight irregularity in papers or visas, no way I’d opt out, you’d be begging for them to go over you with a fine tooth comb (perhaps literally).

Note: on closer re-viewing, I noticed at one point they said that armored cockpit doors were “due to be installed in 2003” so methinks this is a bit old. Reassuring though – hopefully this idea was long discarded, no one will pick it back up again.