If London were Syria – Michelle Pooran

Text Analysis – Struggle with Syrian Crisis

The Syrian Crisis has put so many children through experiences no one could even imagine. The advertisement If London Were Syria, tells the story of a year in the life of a typical British girl in one-second- day series. This ad is showing what a Syrian child goes through when war is occurring near or in their homes. This ad however, is based in London, England in order to show a little girl’s everyday life and how each day leads up to the war. This ad includes topics such as conflict, war, famine and family crisis when having to flight their homes. The producer of this ad is hoping to draw attention and raise awareness to this global crisis occurring. Additionally, the video is ultimately attempting to show people around the world to realize that simply because it is not happening here, it does not mean it isn’t happening. In this ad we are watching a middle-class little girl’s life fall apart; we watch her become homeless, fatherless and a refugee.

Save the Children created If London were Syria with specific symbolic meaning in certain scenes. The ad begins with a middle-class little girl blowing out candles for her birthday with her whole family behind her. On the other hand, it ends with the girl and her mother telling her to blow out the one candle while they are at a military base. It is easy to forget that Syria was once a middle class country and how much has changed. Syrian children once had everything any normal child would take for granted. The transmission of the first twenty seconds and end of this ad are ultimately showing us how much Syria lost during this tragic war. Those scenes show the girl learning, playing, watching TV, playing dress up, sleeping… etc. There are moments throughout the ad that are essentially showing how there are limited resources such as water, food and medicine. They used semiotic analysis in order to communicate to the viewers the importance of being grateful for everything that you have.

When psychoanalyzing this ad, I felt that it’s purpose was to make people feel guilty of the fact that people don’t care for things unless it is happening to them. Throughout the video I felt grief, anger, hopelessness and fear. Grief because a child anywhere around the world should not have to experience this. Anger because people around the world are not paying enough attention to the fact that there are people suffering in Syria and we are either not aware, or not caring for these people. Hopelessness because there is not much that can be done to save the children that have to go through this. Finally, fear because I am afraid for children that have to grow up knowing that they went through a horrific experience such as that one.

The Save the Children Fund produced this advertisement in order to show people the seriousness of this global issue. This international non-governmental organization helps promote children’s rights. It also provides relief and helps support children in developing countries with better education, economic opportunities, and with healthcare. It mostly promotes the changing of policies to provide more rights for children. They do this by enforcing it upon the UN. The ad If London Were Syria, was released on March 5th 2014, and directed by Martin Stirling. It was first released in the UK however since then, it has spread worldwide. While reviewing the YouTube comments, I noticed that a lot of people’s opinions explain how if there weren’t religion, there would never be this problem. A lot of Americans also expressed their opinions on YouTube by stating that even if they wanted to help, they wouldn’t be able to because it seems almost unrealistic that someone would have enough power to save that many children in Syria.

The set goal for this advertisement was to create a time-lapse video that would raise awareness about the plight of Syrian children by imagining what a British girl would experience if war came closer to her home. Hoping that the message of this video will resonate with members of our society, Save the Children ultimately wants this ad to touch people who do not have much knowledge about the issue in Syria.


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