As the season of charity and good humour rapidly encroaches, it aggrieves me to note that the Alberta-based rock band Nickelback is anything but amused.
The object of its ire is a Prince Edward Island police constable who, in a moment of inspired tongue-in-cheekery, threatened any driver he caught under the influence with a force-fed loop of the group’s tunes from its third album. Leaving aside, for the moment, the conundrum of a musical act that manages to sell more albums than almost anyone else north of the 49th Parallel whilst maintaining its reputation as one of the most hated in the business, one wonders how Kensington-stationed cop thought he could get away with any stab at levity in this social-media-drenched world. It didn’t take long for the poor fellow to eat his words on Facebook.
“The other day I created a post in the hopes of bringing awareness to Drinking and Driving and in doing so I suggested that I would be playing Nickelback in the back of my cruiser for those that made the ill advised decision to Drink and Drive and had been apprehended for the same,” wrote R. Hartlen last week. “Well, as we have seen, our little post became an international story. And somewhere in the noise, the message of Don’t Drink and Drive was overshadowed by negativity towards the band I said I would play if you did. . . The message being heard was no longer Don’t Drink and Drive and in its wake was a group of guys and their families left wondering why they were the global butt of a joke that they had not deserved. And for that I am sorry.”
To be sure, drinking and driving is a serious issue – nowhere more so than in the Maritimes, where the per capita-rate of car ownership is higher than in any other part of the country. But, Nickelback. . .come on, dudes. Lighten up a little. You should know by now that the only bad publicity is no publicity at all. As for the latently contrite R. Hartlen, might I suggest a few alternatives in the dispensation of punishment or incentives to motorists?
According to NBC News a couple of years ago, “DDVIP – Designated Driver App, a new application from The California Office of Traffic Safety, gives discounts and exclusive offers to sober designated drivers across the state. Users can search through all participating bars and restaurants in California and filter them by location. The Greater San Diego area, for instance, has more than 35 restaurants and bars that are offering deals like a free non-alcoholic drink for sober drivers.”
Said one bar owner, Ray Corallino: “We offer them a free appetizer and a non alcoholic beverage of their choice if they are the designated driver. I think it’s a good idea because we have a lot of college kids that come down from the state area, USD, UCSD and they have to drive a long way home.”
Perhaps Prince Edward Island’s dedicated constabulary could follow suit with that province’s publicans. If that particular carrot fails to work, there are always several non-Nickelback sticks to deploy.
What about the mandatory consumption of slushies from a local filling station? Or ham and cheese sandwiches “made by hand” from a federal penitentiary? There’s also a four-hour binge-watch of The Gilmore Girls reboot on Netflix; any episode of The Vampire Diaries; and any album that features Madonna, The Spice Girls, Kanye West, or Beyonce. As for Justin Bieber? Well, enough said.
Be assured, driver. Sober is better.