Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Take drugs, get AIDS, and die!

The federal government kicked off a campaign today aimed at scaring young people out of doing drugs by telling them that if they do, they could get AIDS.

Exemplifying the youth-oriented bent is a TV commercial featuring student actresses and actors from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a public high school here.

In the commercial, a girl tells a friend via text messages that a mutual friend has contracted HIV from unprotected sex following a night of smoking marijuana.

The text messages read: "She got high; She got stupid; and now she has HIV."

You can watch the alarmist ad here.

The campaign leans heavily on student input, and organizers say they will be successful only to the extent that young people listen to their message.

But it looks like it's not going all that well so far.

Ellington students at the press conference, some of whom were in the commercial, said the NIDA campaign wouldn't necessarily keep them from drinking or doing drugs.
Surprise! Who'd have thought that young people don't trust the government's scare tactics?


Todd Roy said...

Its amazing how far the government will push the anti-drug ads.I remember back when it was just a frying pan with some eggs cooking. Marijuana has now been shown to cause suicides and the vehicular homicides from time to time. The D.A.R.E. generation has been bombarded their entire lives by these scare tactics. Eventually you just tune them out except maybe to laugh at how obscenly ridiculous they are. Most of us have learned by now that you can't blindly trust anybody in this world especially our government.The real problem is the amount of taxpayer money being spent on all these uselss ads that dont deal with any of the real problems assoicated with drugs and their misuse.

kaptinemo said...

Having been around as a 'tween' during the 1960's, and being cursed with an eidetic memory, I find the level of student intelligence assumed by the producers of these so-called 'public service announcements' to be insultingly low. (You'll note I said the producers make the assumption, not me; I know better. I've worked briefly for a public school board as an IT specialist and witnessed many times students instructing teachers on computer usage.)

At least back then there was substance to the dialogue, with some bite to it: I specifically recall one radio ad where a truly ignorant John Q. Public type was asked about what he knew about drugs. Ol' John Q. then goes begins railing on about kids "shooting marijuana in their veins" and making other obviously unknowledgable comments, to be cut short by the announcer: "You know what?" (John Q.) "Huh?" (Announcer) "You don't know anything."

Needless to say, this was aimed at the WW2 Generation that genuinely didn't know much about various illicits; today's ads are curiously skewed because the Boomer Generation most definitely has had the kind of directly acquired knowledge that the generation before them lacked. Yet the intellectual content of today's ads aimed at Gen X (& Y, for that matter) kids assumes such an insultingly low degree of intelligence that it is no wonder at all why kids tune them out, or laugh behind their hands at the presumption today's students are suffering from chronic anoxia or something. Were I a kid or a teen today, I'd be pissed off at that assumption, and rightfully so. And our tax dollars are spent on this drivel? Shameful!

Kris said...

How about:

"She got drunk. She got stupid. And now she has HIV."

That would be a bit more plausible, although still unwisely placing too much emphasis on the chemical rather than the complex chain of behaviors leading to unsafe choices.

Certain substances, particularly alcohol, simultaneously reduce inhibitions and impair judgement to the extent that risky behaviors are (possibly) more likely, when combined with self-destructive tendencies and unsafe environments. Marijuana, on its own, is not one of those subtstances.

I am not saying marijuana is ok for teens, by any means. However, providing any misleading information to teens about the connection between drug use and sexually-transmitted diseases is unsafe Moreover, a message so clearly erroneous as the marijuana-HIV connection only serves to further alienate teens from efforts to reduce the abuse of substances.

JT Barrie said...

I have a deceased brother who did exactly that. He used drugs, got stupid, and contracted aids. He died from ARC a decade ago. However I tell friends that he died from alcoholism, because that is closer to the truth. I was only surprised that something like that didn't happen sooner because he was a ticking time bomb.
Of course, I still use alcohol and if I didn't have to smoke it I would probably use reasonably priced marijuana. It didn't deter me because I always had a steadfast rule about using drugs: if I or my intended partner were drug impaired, sex was absolutely not an option. TV generally does a good job of portraying this. I even mention that in my book along with about 5 other things you don't do when impaired.
The problem I have with those types of commercials is that they are false associations. I have an extensive list of false associations in my first chapter entitled "lies, lies, nothing but lies" where I detail how those who sell drugs or drug prohibition misrepresent their wares. Pharmaceuticals represent the typical as atypical when describing "side effects". There is no such thing as a side effect: that's what the drug does - and the reaction varies depending on one's personal physiology and previous drug history. NIDA represent the atypical as typical.
When using a shot of whiskey as an anesthetic for dental surgery [done in 19th century] and warning about intoxication as a possible side effect typifies the scale of misrepresentation in today's drug ad. That's what whiskey does. If the pain is too severe or you have a prior history of alcohol abuse you may not get intoxicated. If you represent DTs as a typical reaction for using whiskey that is the other type of lie. You only get DTs from alcohol use after long periods of prolonged abuse. Your body has adjusted for heavy use that causes dullness of thinking so that when you don't have alcohol working on you your mind conjures up these hallucinations. You can't get DTs from your first weekend binge. You certainly won't get it from having one shot of whiskey.
But the ad only tells you the portion of the truth it wants you to know - deliberately leaving out important details. When Clinton did that Republicans used the L word. When Bush did that the Democrats also used the L word. When referring to the drug czar however I use the PPL word: professional pathological liar. But that could also apply to anyone elected president now - couldn't it? Should we call him "liar in chief"?

Jonthon said...

The thread confirms my initial reaction - this garbage is insulting to my intelligence.

Interestingly enough, though, I recently read an interesting article suggesting that an HIV vaccine may someday become a reality. A scientist who helped to discover the HIV virus said he has made progress toward producing an AIDS vaccine and hopes to launch a clinical trial in about a year.

I guess I included that mostly because the new ad campaign really doesn't warrant a response...