During the month of October, you can't watch, read, or buy anything without being made more aware of breast cancer.
The annual October pinksplosion has been so successful in awareness (which is non-profit code for "money") raising that Save The Boobies season has spilled back into September, nearly eclipsing that month's designated cause: prostate cancer. They've tried anti-cancer walks, they've tried Movember, and they've tried corporate sponsorship with mixed results. Now, in an attempt to make a lasting impression on the American public, the prostate cancer awareness machine is trying another angle: viral terror.
Prostate cancer's faced challenges in getting people screened or donating to the cause because it's just not as sexy as breast cancer. Breast cancer has become about saving the precious, precious sweater puppies, points out GOOD's Amanda Hess, and prostate cancer can't be discussed without acknowledging that being tested for it involves someone sticking a gloved finger up a man's butt. The whole disease — from screening to treatment — is challenging to men's sense of virility, so much so that some male legislators refuse to cosponsor bills designed to bring awareness to the disease that afflicts more than 1 in 7 American men over the course of their lifetimes. (If your masculine identity is so delicate that it can't stand up to a pastel article of clothing or a butthole screening, perhaps there are deeper issues afoot. But I digress!)
If men won't respond to gentle probing, perhaps they'll respond to a forceful one. Hess writes,
Enter "Branko," a beefy Czech man in a red tracksuit who roams the streets with a latex glove strapped to one hand, offering pro bono prostate exams to strangers and otherwise attempting to "go viral." Branko is Borat-if all Borat wanted to do was feel dudes' rectums for science-and he represents an attempt to exploit the fear over prostate screenings for good. Online, Branko lurks in an abandoned warehouse, laughing maniacally, snapping his glove, and beckoning men to "come here, little tushy" over the sounds of bleating sheep. In order to become more "aware" of the facts about prostate cancer-presented in an appropriated Eastern European typeface-online users must navigate to a mock-up of a leaky men's shower, where a menacing Branko stands with one latex-covered index finger raised in the air.
The ad campaign also threatens men that if they don't get checked, they'll "get Czeched," which I'm assuming means that Banko the creepy tracksuit wearer might sexually assault you in the butt.
There's a method to this madness, though; according to an executive at the Prostate Cancer Foundation, men have thus far largely ignored most attempts to get them to go to the doctor.
Men are basically big babies. We don't take care of our health. We put off the annual physicals. We ignore many of the important messages to our health. This is a very difficult disease for many men to get their heads around, and we wanted to use humor to break through the clutter.
So it's come to this: prostate cancer screening: do it, little irresponsible boys, or something pretty rapey might happen. Thank goodness breast cancer awareness month hasn't yes latched onto the idea of Ma'am, a large lunchlady type who hides in the fitting rooms at Dress Barn and honks on the breasts of women over 40 who haven't had their mammograms.