Tonight the tiny Spectacle Theater in Williasmburg is screening a slew of classic instructional safety films from the golden era of safety cinema (1940s to 2002). The films have been lovingly curated from the archives of Rick Prelinger, a connoisseur of the genre who has collected some 60,000 advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur films. This treasure trove of safety was eventually acquired by the Library of Congress, and over 5,000 of them have been made them available for free online. Here's a very funny trailer for tonight's Ephemera: Safety First screening:

EPHEMERA: SAFETY FIRST! from Spectacle Theater on Vimeo.

From the Ephemera: Safety First program notes:

Safety films are modern morality plays aimed at You, The Everyman! Without their stern guidance you would get your dumb self killed in short order. OSHA’s 2010 statistics list over 4,000 on-the-job fatalities and millions of productive hours lost due to accidents. Unfortunately, even when depicting very real dangers, safety films’ authoritative tone and stiff reenactments (not to mention terrible gore effects) elicit more laughter than concern.

These ephemeral films fill a social (and sometimes legal) need to educate the public on what it means to be ‘safe’. When society is confronted with new technology or changing environments, it is up to the safety film to show the proper path to tread. They want to save you from yourself - your wild emotions, lazy shortcuts, rule-bending and other human foibles all lead straight to your gory, violent death. Safety films want you to watch out, and whether by gentle caution or gruesome reenactment, they WILL get their message across.

So join us for an evening of well-intended threats, frights, falls and severed limbs! With bonus Halloween safety videos just in time for the holiday, and a US Postal Safety Rap featuring young Justin Timberlake!

Yes, a young JT will keep you safe and amused tonight in Williamsburg. The screening starts at 7:30 p.m. and costs $5.