She produced an beautiful thirty second ad for the Indianapolis 500 which contained only two one second glimpses of racing Indy cars, with the most of the other 28 seconds an inviting montage of people preparing for and enjoying the race, the checkered flag of the race official cuts to a checkered table cloth flowing unto a picnic table, a young boy dreamily racing a toy car cuts to cheering fans, etc. The focus was family, community, holiday enjoyment.
An ad for a car-manufacturer's off-road vehicle presents a guy and his dog waking up at dawn, stepping out into a high-desert panorama, the dog, close-up on the man's dawn-lit eyes, the camera pulling back to his handsome beard-stubbled, smiling face, then to a long view showing him and the vehicle in an isolated, beautiful landscape.
I see her work as among the finest examples of commercially commissioned short-form filmmaking, beautifully inventive, effectively placing the client's message in the social context which demonstrates the essence of the message.
Ramaa's clarity, her ability to create focused films risk delivering the message more powerful than anticipated by the client. In the world of advertising art, it is sometimes possible to be too effective.
This short anti-smoking film Ramaa Mosley made for use as a Public Service Announcement on broadcast TV seems to have been too powerful. On the subject of children damaged by their parent's second-hand smoke, the film dramatically equates the second-hand smoke to abuse children experience from yelling, threatening parents. The American Lung Association declined to purchase it.
A pro-tobacco blog posted a strong negative reaction to the spot, commentors there adding harsh condemnation. Some see the film as too harsh for the general public. A few think parents have a right to expose their children to this damage, some claim second-hand smoke does not harm children.
Apparently some internal ALA disagreements resulted. The ALA President publicly apologized for considering Ramaa's film as a PSA.
Intially finding it posted to YouTube, I submitted the video link to Digg, but the Diggers didn't give much attention. The posting of my Digg submission here on p0ps blog was linked to in the pro-tobacco blog comments and drew some fire.
My next post on p0ps blog was a Flickr photo of an attractive smoker providing editorial balance showing my sympathy for smokers, being one myself. This photo drew a comment, aimed at my support for Ramaa's film. It continued the attack tone of the pro-tobacco blog, imagining me as a anti-smoking activist, accusing me of supporting hate. The commentor seems to feel victimized by a some kind of do-gooder cabal which he evidently feels is more powerful than he. I say "apparently" because it's not clear what exactly the commentor is objecting to, the clarity of his writing is even worse than mine. Perhaps if he and I got together over a beer and a cigarette, we could discover where we agree and disagree on smokers' rights.
I was taught that my rights ended when I hurt someone. It is questionable that society should grant any of us smokers the right to damage ourselves, but certainly we cannot be given the right to damage others. Protecting the weak is civil society's duty. Reasonable people want to do what they can to protect children.
The attempt of Ramaa's film is jolt smoking parents into realizing that letting their children breath tobacco smoke is abusive. It makes that point brilliantly. As the director, she elicited terrifying performances from her actors. The film immediately makes the heart race with fearful anticipation. It is so well-designed that after it delivered its explanatory scene, I felt punched in my old, smoke-filled chest. I was devastated and sad. I could not disagree with the truth of the analogy drawn. Forty years ago, when I blithely smoked in the same room as my baby son, I was hurting him. I am ashamed. Had I seen this spot back then, I think I might have thought about what I was doing, I may have, at least, stopped smoking around my child.