Sunday, March 28, 2010

awareness or misandry?

This video is a campaign for AIDS awareness, and while it does get to the point of the severity of the disease… is it taking it too far? I love commercials with a shock value, especially when it comes to awareness campaigns, for example the workplace safety ads. But, there is a line between shock and misandry (hatred of boys or men). This popular feminist infused topic has also been related to the controversy over the David and Goliath t-shirts ‘Boys are stupid: throw rocks at them’, in which People magazine published an article- expressing the issues with the slogan. In the video, women are victimized by men and the AIDS epidemic is reduced to a single one night stand. The misandry could have been avoided by simply having a woman ‘pass on the HIV’ or ‘shoot the gun’ at a man; it’s very interesting that the creators would not include such an easy fix. Or perhaps- the men are shooting the women because they gave them the disease? I am interested to hear other’s opinions…Image Credit: flickr supraMK86


  1. This took me a while to find but here’s an image came to mind when I saw this PSA.

    I saw an HIV/AIDs awareness exhibition in Germany two years ago and its been ingrained in my head ever since. I was shocked to see such imagery and it did offend me as this PSA does in its representation of the Male.

    However, two years and I still remember it. I remember it’s message and its meaning. For a PSA, that’s a hard feat as they touch personal issues and are more well known for being made fun of and ineffective.

    The portrayal of masculinity on screen and off-screen is an important issue, I know of many men who identify as feminists yet fear “coming out” because of the association of Feminists being only women and when it comes to issues such a Domestic Violence it is important for men to be engaged in discussion and to have PSA’s geared towards the male audience instead of the typical PSA associations between being a woman and being a victim.

    Ps. The UN recently released a statement claiming that, “ HIV has become the leading cause of death and disease among women of reproductive age worldwide”.

  2. I donno.... I think the message would have been just as "rememberable" had this PSA portrayed both Men and Woman passing on the HIV virus to each other in different scenarios. The concept for the ad (showing how just "one time" can cause one's death) through the gun imagery was extremely effective in communicating the intended message. The fact that this ad showed only men passing on the disease (through the choice of having all the men in the various scenarios get the gun) really communicates that women are the victims - which is not true. Aren't PSA's supposed to be accurate and raise awareness for the cause at hand - in this case being contracting HIV through unprotected sex. Who gave the disease to who makes no difference.

  3. Wow, okay, I find adds like these very puzzling. In comparison to the workplace safety ads, i find this less graphic and disturbing, but this more unexplainable. The thing with the safety ads was that they were graphic and shocking. This ad takes it's time revealing the guns and the women seem happy about it. I dunno, but I get this impression that the women fall victim to the men in these commercials, and once they find out they have HIV, their simply grateful for the death the men are now going to oblige them with. Its odd that the look happy and not shit scared in this. If anything, I think I find the tone of "okay-ness" is this clip more unsettling than anything.

  4. I agree with Veronica's post regarding the expressions of the women. If they are faced with the reality of their death should they not be scared? The fact that these women are smiling seems quite confusing to me. I guess the point is that they are unsuspecting, that they didn't know their partner was going to "kill them". Overall I find this ad to be both effective and ineffective. The fact that AIDS kills is simple enough, but the victimizing of the women seems to be problematic. Men can get AIDS too, but the PSA seems to be ignoring that reality and painting men out to be the bad guys. They should have definitely changed up the scenarios a bit!

  5. It's funny how easily affected I am by commercials. I like to think I'm a lot smarter than the average consumer, but I think that's what everyone thinks. I'm not.
    After watching that commercial, without knowing much about AIDS statistics or death rates, I was totally disturbed and scared. For me, it was effective. And actually a clever concept. Did it go too far? Maybe. But it got the point across. And like Paisley said, sometimes that kind of shocking imagery is the stuff that stays with you the most.
    On an INCREDIBLY LIGHTER NOTE, the ad that affected me the most as a child and left me truly believing the ad's message was the following:

    Any kind of violent, unexpected video can really have an effect on someone, especially when you're young! After that commercial, I always made sure to drink milk.

  6. Ok well lets take a look at the demographics marketed for this video.

    My first impressions if this is target for a Male Audience is very problematic, to say that you've got a weapon between your thighs is not very conducive for the ad. Then again, metaphors for this sort of thing can be found in pop culture all the time, case in point Stanley Kubrick's Dr Strangelove. Or, if in the case of a relationship where two sex partners are equal and meant to "share the moment" then it might be saying that one should take more care in not transmitting STI's?

    If it is targeting a female audience, then again problematic and using scare tactics is not the smartest way to go about it. But the shock value may cause some women to rethink their sexual behaviors (not in a creepy women should never have sex way, but in a women should assert themselves in practicing safe sex way)

    The suggestion of inequality is deplorable in transmitting STI's as pointed out by some of the comments. But I believe this PSA is specifically targeting women because of the inequalities of those who are most affected by HIV/Aids

    Most PSA's work around either a gain frame or a loss frame. That is, they either try to send a positive message where you feel that you have something to gain in not engaging in certain behaviors.

    A loss frame, like the PSA in this case (and a number of anti-drug campaigns) is where you show the negative effects in engaging certain behaviors (ie not using a condom).

    Also, some preliminary research suggests how the content for the PSA was chosen.

    1) Findings indicate that perceptions of the focal behavior (condom use) rather than perceptions of the disease (HIV/AIDS) have the greatest impact on condom use motivation.

    2)"Prospect Theory characterizes a set of preferences or decision strategies
    by noting that individuals are, in general, risk seeking when losses are
    salient but risk averse when gains are salient"
    (so if there is no perceived risk of HIV/Aids, then chances are one won't take it seriously)

    3) Attitude for Condom Usage, states that perceived risk lower for self then for peers (among youths).

    4) Among young adults, Males were more likely to use a condom then females.

    5) The primary perceived risk for young women in unsafe sex is unwanted pregnancy not STI's.

    6) “A study on female HIV prevention published in the Journal of Sex Health Research asserts that Latino women often lack the attitudes needed to negotiate safe sex due to traditional gender-role norms in the Latino community, and may be afraid to bring up the subject of condom use with their partners. Women who participated in the study often reported that their male partners would be angry or possibly violent at the suggestion that they use condoms.”

    7) “Women are more than twice as likely as men to contract HIV through unprotected heterosexual sex. HIV is transmitted eight times more efficiently from men to women than from women to men.”

    8) I also know that women are more likely to not use a condom if their partner asks them not to.

    However, I will say these people didn’t do their research well enough, as in the case of perceived risk for unsafe sexual behavior studies have found that a gain frame perspective is more effective. We all want to know how sex is good and how sex with condoms can be better.