I've long agreed with arguments in favor of giving relentlessly pinkified and inexplicably juvenile breast cancer awareness campaigns a grown-up makeover, but if "grown-up" just means throwing a new tag line on a beer commercial, I'll take the teddy bears.
This boobtastic Rethink Breast Cancer ad "and a couple more like it," according to the LA Times's Dan Neil, "seem to answer a question that must have nagged breast-cancer-awareness advocates: How to get men to care? With rare exceptions, men don't suffer from breast cancer. The earnest, sad-violins spots invoking moms and grand-moms of the past probably haven't gained much traction among men." Of course not! Why would we ever expect men to care about their moms and grand-moms dying of cancer if the issue isn't marketed to get their attention? (And they say feminists have pathetically low expectations of men.) Says Neil on behalf of Dude Nation, "These ads make the equation explicit: More breast cancer equals fewer awesome breasts. Brilliant. Where do I send my check? The only people who could object to such ads are advocates for other kinds of cancer awareness. "
Setting aside the implication that the average straight male has thus far been too fucking stupid to connect the dots between breast cancer and "fewer awesome breasts" — what was I saying about low expectations? — there's actually a pretty good reason to object to the ads, regardless of any affiliation with other cancer awareness projects. However devastating mastectomies may be, the somewhat larger point here is that breast cancer equals fewer awesome women. And if that point is lost on Dude Nation, the problem is not with the ads, it's with a culture that says women's primary value lies in our sexuality. I mean, seriously, is it even possible to illustrate that any more clearly? Dead human beings of the female persuasion = meh. Lost tits = crisis!
Despite my feminism and general cantankerousness, I am often a fan of pragmatic solutions, even when they irritate me politically. 9 times out of 10, I'd be like, "More money for breast cancer research? Can't really complain." But I'm sorry, this is that 10th time, and I'm fucking complaining. If it's really true that men can't be bothered to care about second most common cause of cancer death in most women (and the number one cause in Hispanic women) unless you hit them over the head with images of vulnerable titties, then I would like to talk to a realtor on Mars, but I still don't want to see an ad like this.
But oh wait, it's a trend. Neil also recently saw a lung cancer awareness ad featuring a close-up of lingerie-clad boobs ("La Perla? I'm just guessing," he adds helpfully) that switches to "an X-ray of her diseased lungs." Gotcha! Lung cancer is even more deadly for women than breast cancer! "The take-away here?" says Neil. "These ads represent a positive cultural change."
Really? That's the take-away?
Fine. You win, Dude Nation. Let's just slap a pair of perky, young hooters on every friggin' PSA for every friggin' cause of death that isn't male-specific. Cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, melanoma, leukemia, heart disease, AIDS, malaria, drunk driving, you name it. New slogan, for all of them: IF SHE DIES, HER PRETTY BOOBIES GO WITH HER. Hell, why be that conservative, when the stakes are so high? Let's just go with a crotch shot: IF SHE DIES, NO MORE PUSSY FOR YOU.
The important thing here is getting straight men's attention, right? Who could complain?
Breast Cancer Ads Use Lechery For Good [LA Times]