First, watch this video until the end.
This ad, designed by Zeitsprung Commercial in Germany got sent to me last night by ModBlog reader Broodje. For those that can’t watch the video at work, allow me to sum it up for you. A man dressed in a bear costume is walking around the streets to cheerful music giving out hugs to people as he strolls along. Then, the lighting darkens as the man in the costume pulls off the bear’s head to reveal his heavily modified face. The tagline of the ad appears as he roars at the camera and stalks away: ”You can’t see H.I.V. But you can prevent it”.
I’m not sure how you may react to this, but I’m on the same page as Broodje, in that we’re both more than a little upset by the implications that this PSA gives off. While the message itself is a good one, the end result may be giving a lot of people a bad impression of the modded community. To me this is saying that not only can you get H.I.V. from a hug, but that someone who is heavily modified is probably infected and it is best to stay away from them.
As for the actor in the bear costume, I have no idea if he knew what the PSA was for, or if it mattered to him how he would be portrayed in the final cut. The fact remains that as much as we try to show the world that modded people aren’t any different from the rest of the world, things like this come along and tap into some base fear that people have of the unknown, setting any progress that has been made back in the process.
I think what troubles me most about this, is that this type of thing is exactly the reason that Jessie had such a huge media circus around his arrest. The media is consistently associating heavily modified people with as many negative connotations as they can. Now we’ve come to a point that not only are heavily modified people scary because they’re “all violent”, but they “all have H.I.V. and should be avoided at all costs”.
What do you think? Am I reading too much into the ad, or is there really an undercurrent in the media that is directly attempting to demonize a group of people just because they choose to take control of their bodies.
UPDATE: It turns out that this video was part of the 2009 HIVisible campaign, and is starring none other than BME’s own IAM:Sicko. So it appears I was completely off base with my interpretation of the ad. Thanks to Bastian for filling me in and clarifying the message.