At first, this public service announcement seems to follow the mystery of a budding high school romance set to the whimsical tune of Shelby Lynne's sweet love song, "Johnny Met June." In this case, our Johnny is a somewhat shy, redheaded high schooler named Evan who finds himself so bored one day that he begins scratching words into a wooden library table to pass the time. Our June is an unknown girl who writes back to him on the aforementioned table. So begins a charming back and forth between the pair that subsequently plays out over the course of the school year. At last, we see the two finally — finally — stumble upon each other while signing yearbooks. But despite what it may seem, that, my friends, is not the climax of this story. Rather, the climax comes bursting through the door like a dramatic record scratch when we least expect it — and boom. We are forced to realize that we are not, in fact, watching the story we thought we were.
Before you read on, watch the video, below, and see if the twist ending catches you by surprise.
While we were happily watching Evan's sweet search for adolescent love, a much darker narrative was unfolding in the background. An all-too-common narrative of gun violence and mass shootings whose ultimate reveal is heart-wrenching and disorienting — and that's precisely the point. Did we miss it at first glance, because we weren't looking for it, because we didn't want to see it, or because we just didn't know what to look for? The group behind this powerful video, Sandy Hook Promise, is a nonpartisan nonprofit led by families whose loved ones were tragically killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School four years ago this month. "When you don't know what to look for, or can't recognize what you are seeing, it can be easy to miss warning signs or dismiss them as unimportant. That can lead to tragic consequences," Sandy Hook Promise cofounder and managing director Nicole Hockley, who lost her first-grade son, Dylan, in the Sandy Hook massacre, told Adweek. "It is important for us to show youth and adults that they are not helpless in protecting their community from gun violence — these acts are preventable when you know the signs. Everyone has the power to intervene and get help. These actions can save lives." Here's hoping she's right.