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25 October, 2005

The other Ministry

Every few months, I receive enquiries clearly intended for the UK Government's Ministry of Information, rather than this privately-owned website*.  Problem is, there is no such government department: this website is named after the fictional Ministry in Terry Gilliam's 'Brazil', probably my favourite film.

It really mystifies me that people make these mistakes. If a web search accidentally brought someone here, a moment's glance would reveal that it was an error. Plainly, people simply can't be bothered to look at even a single page of the site before blindly sending an e-mail: "There's an e-mail address – any e-mail address; that'll do." It's rather depressing.

However, the UK did have a Ministry of Information (presumably a propagandist's euphemism for 'Ministry of Propaganda') until 1946, when it was rationalised into the Central Office of Information (COI). Its most obvious role was (is) in producing public information films on health, safety or welfare issues.

The BBC recalls those films, though there's at least one error in the article ('Rhubarb & Custard' was a wobbly hand-drawn animation, not cut-out), and I really disagree with one point:

'Charley Says' worked because kids watched them and thought they were cute little cartoons
'Charley Says' was terrifying! Even as an adult, those profoundly unhappy faces, the menacing cat and the sinister messages make me shiver.
I'd say that's a common trait of the public information films I recall: they all take the tone of "if you do 'X', this is what'll happen, and that'll be Bad." If an advert or drama adopted such crude (and, okay, effective) shock tactics, there'd be complaints, but I suppose the COI isn't chasing customers or ratings.


*: I also receive occasional messages from US christian pseudo-spammers who read 'Ministry' as a religious reference. Those e-mails are fun....

Comments

"*: I also receive occasional messages from US christian pseudo-spammers who read 'Ministry' as a religious reference. Those e-mails are fun...."

I'd love to see some, along with your responses!

Posted by Jon. at October 25, 2005 09:40 PM

You should post the email intended UK Govt and we could group together to draft some responses.

Posted by theaardvark at October 26, 2005 10:37 AM

The ministry of information did exist, during the second world war at least, and that's what I was here to find. I'm so dissapointed.

Posted by Henry Hayes at October 29, 2005 02:19 PM

The ministry of information did exist, during the second world war at least

That's what I said. Keep up! ;)

Posted by NRT at October 29, 2005 04:01 PM
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