The video features a young, male college student named Guy Davis. It’s narrated by a man with a deep, sonorous voice who deems Davis “Action Guy,” a heroic figure with superhuman powers to prevent sexual harassment, armed with a shield to repel obnoxious bros.
Picture a millennial Clark Kent at a frat house, who overhears an argument between fellow students. He rushes downstairs and finds a guy groping a young female student.
“Stop,” says the woman. “I said stop!”
Action Guy tells the jerk to leave her alone. The narrator makes a reference to “superhuman detection skills,” but Action Guy isn’t having it.
“I just heard her,” he says, looking perturbed. “With my ears.”
The message is obvious, but the PSA spells it out anyway: “Be an action guy: no superhero powers required.”
It’s On Us began three years ago, after the Obama administration initiated a national movement to end sexual assault. The campaign describes itself as “A rallying cry to be a part of the solution,” by asking parents, students, politicians, educators and companies to speak up against sexual violence.
Comedy Central’s PSA isn’t the only way Viacom has contributed to this cause. We’ve partnered with the Joyful Heart Foundation (founded by Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order: SVU fame) to produce PSAs elucidating the dangerous, subliminal language, like “It was just a misunderstanding,” that surrounds the conversation on sexual assault.
These PSAs aired across several Viacom channels, including MTV, BET, VH1 and more.
Comedy Central lends a significant voice to this movement. The brand’s millennial audience is comprised of men and women who are likely to encounter the type of house party Action Guy attended. Perhaps they already have. Perhaps they’ve seen something, and didn’t know how to say something.
Comedy Central’s ad shows a simple, safe way to prevent harassment. A more appropriate name for Action Guy may be “Preventative Action Guy.” He avoids major confrontation, and in one instance finds a girl who is clearly disturbed by some men who have been looking at her inappropriately. He offers to walk her home from the party, so she doesn’t have to be alone.
No grandiose display of machismo, and no risk of false accusations. Comedy Central isn’t asking much from viewers. Being an action guy (or gal) just means being a decent human being.