The camera pans across several framed pictures. The smallest three frames hold pictures of a boy at varying ages, but still very young. The largest frame hold a picture of a newly married couple at their wedding. This picture in particular looks older, and paired with the pictures of the young boy I assume is their son, these two have been married for quite a few years now. The entire room is rather dark.
The end of this pan shows an open doorway, where only the side of a staircase can be seen, illuminated by a light in the adjacent room. A shadow is cast against the side of this staircase, and judging by the large build and short hair, I assume this to be the father/husband.
The young boy seen in the pictures is now seen in the flesh, sitting on the stairs. He is dressed in pajamas and holding a toy in his hand. His is not downstairs with his father, and he seems to be higher up on the staircase, in the dark. From this, I gather it is late at night, and past this boy’s bedtime. He fumbles with the toy in his hand, but his gaze is directed down towards the room with the light, where I imagine his father stands. There is one light that illuminates the boy making his the focus of this spot.
The shot shifts and I now see the back of the boy. From this angle it is confirmed he sits at the very top of the staircase. At this spot, he may be hidden from his father, but can still see whatever he is doing. A different shadow appears on the wall next to him, this time with a slender build and long hair. This is most likely his mother, joining the father in the only lit room.
The camera transitions back to a forward facing shot of the boy, but is not zoomed in to only show the boy’s torso and part of his face. His attention is now fixed on his toy, though he looks a little upset. With his focus on the toy, his expression slowly gets a little happier. The ligght has slightly darkened his face.
A loud noise startles the boy and his eyes snap back to the room his father and mother are in. He is scared now, and looks as though he is about to cry. There is a lot of sudden tension in this shot.
The boy, now wide-eyed, is breathing heavily. His mouth is open and he seems to have forgotten about his toy. The light coming from the only lit room is blocked by the pillars on the handrail of the stairs, leaving a dark line down the boy’s face as he looks through to the room his parents are in. Something potentially violent has happened.
The boy looks down at his toy, different from before. He is visibly uncomfortable and upset, yet hasn’t moved from the stairs. He has not removed himself from the situation, and may be too scared to do so.
The screen goes black and a message in all whit is displayed in all capital letters: “Children have to sit by and watch. What’s your excuse?”. This is a powerful statement, while slightly accusing.
Information for a domestic abuse hotline is displayed on the screen in place of the statement. The logo for this hotline is a centered half black half blue box with the phrase “There’s no excuse” in all capital letters, “no” being the largest and most prominent, marking it as the key word of this phrase.
Watching the ad once again with sound had a few differences in tone. It started out innocently enough, the husband asking where dinner was, and the wife responding that she thought he would have been home earlier, and put everything away. This conversation turned violent very quickly when the husband begins yelling. His wife plead for him to calm down and to speak quietly, I assume for their child’s sake, but this only enrages him further. There is no shot of the fight, instead we only see the reactions of the child, who has become our sole informant on the situation. He is upset, but too young to truly realize the gravity of this problem. After a loud slap is heard, the boy is visibly stressed, so he knows something is wrong, but cannot do anything to help. He stays hidden on the top of the stairs. By the wife’s pleading, I assume this is not the first time this has taken place, and probably not the first time their son has been in earshot. This ad for domestic abuse prevention is meant to combat the “bystander affect” in which those surrounding the situation shift responsibility away from themselves under the notion that someone else will help or it isn’t any of their business. By using a child as the focus and informant, the audience feels a sense of responsibility. There is a maternal reaction to these kinds of spots that has the message hit a lot harder than it would should the boy have been older, or not there at all.