Column: A word of warning

We can’t say we haven’t been warned

Whether it’s racing up a winding mountain road in a flashy sedan or laying rubber in an empty parking lot, trick driving is something best left to professionals on closed courses — drivers who are being paid a truckload of money to show just what that vehicle is capable of doing.

Not that you should ever do it, of course.

Because it’s only a dramatization.

It says so right there at the bottom of the screen.

Don’t try this at home, folks.

Come to think of it, that’s probably not bad advice.

Then again, some disclaimers make more sense than others. While many are downright ridiculous.

For example, I’ll be sure I never race to escape from between two skyscrapers as they slowly slide toward one another.

Similarly, I won’t ask a great white shark to scratch my lotto ticket with its teeth. Nor will I stand around waiting to grow a set of wings after drinking a can of soda.

Well, not anymore, at least.

Because those are just dramatizations.

My all-time favourite disclaimer ran with an ad that aired several years ago, highlighting the sun roof of an SUV.

“Vehicle not suitable for underwater use,” read the helpful warning at the bottom of the screen as a family rolled up onto a beach after enjoying a close up view of marine life.

You mean to say my new SUV doesn’t double as a submarine? Who do I talk to about a refund?

Of course, all this corporate hand holding is likely nothing more than self-preservation with a dash of, ‘See? we get the joke, too,’ thrown in for good measure.

All of it dreamed up in a legal  department, which, sadly, has good reason to be overly cautious.

As many of these warnings are offered tongue in cheek as not. At least, one has to hope.

But in a society that needs to be told that hot beverages are, in fact, hot, or that a dog that ages 12 years in the span of a single commercial was actually portrayed by different dogs —  I suppose the argument can be made that we can use all the clues we can get.

All of it seems to point to a widespread inability to think things through to their logical conclusion.

When a man brings his cellphone to a beach inside a case shaped like — wait for it — a handgun — as happened this summer in Manitoba, it could be argued that a lack of common sense has become far too common in its own right.

It’s no surprise, one hopes, when the police show up with their own (very real) guns drawn.

I’ve also heard the theory (and it makes sense) that the whole point of that tiny print at the bottom of the screen, when it says something other than the all too familiar ‘professional driver, closed course’ is to get viewers to look more closely and actually pay attention to what they’re seeing. If they make you laugh, they make you remember.

In reality, those ludicrous disclaimers, it seems, are as much about marketing as they are about covering their own butts.

More so, probably.

And when you think it through, that’s actually kind of brilliant.

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