Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Giving the gift of medical exam appointment scheduling

I missed the CBS Cares "Give Her the Gift of a Pap Smear" commercials last Christmas and Hanukkah, mentioned by Lyle in the comments yesterday as among the worst he'd ever seen. ("Give her the gift that even Santa can't deliver.")

They were all created on the same murky brown set, with minor prop enhancements (zebra pillow equals Jewish woman, whose gift is of a "schmear"). Here's the presumptuous-but-"caring" guy who delivers the bad advice to schedule the Christmas gift of a pap smear appointment.

Just to be sure there's no sex discrimination, here's a link to the CBS Cares "Gift of a Prostate Exam" PSA, too, in both Creepy Santa and Kosher Prostate versions, complete with female faces that light up with delight at the thought of "saving prostates."

These ads remind me of the talk given by artist Sarah Sudhoff, who documented her experience with medical treatment for cervical cancer. Maybe the ads look different to someone whose life has been saved due to catching cervical cancer in time for treatment? On second thought, I bet they still look ludicrous.

(By the way, isn't "pap smear" just the weirdest and most awkward-ugly name for such an intimate procedure?)

Sudhoff is someone who has treated the subject of women's reproductive cancer (cervical, vaginal, and ovarian cancers) in a sustained and serious way, proving that an artist might explore a topic in its complexity to unveil dimensions of medical practice (for example) that are typically obscured by routines and protocals.

She also wondered whether the importance of screening for reproductive cancer (and awareness of the many women it affects) might not be lost among the barrage of pink-themed breast cancer messages in the media. ("Nothing against breast cancer awareness, but...") Sudhoff underwent so many pap smears, and spent so much time alone waiting on medical tables, that one piece of her work includes video documentation of a "I think I can just do this myself by now" self-administered one.  

She said that the artwork on the wall was really there at the office where she had her exams and took this photo. It's a remarkable image to hover over someone interested in health procedures for women, and in what you might call the aesthetics of medical waste.

Prostate cancer is another story, complicated by the fact that there is more ambiguity about the value of treatment for this usually slow-growing cancer. There was a good update on this on NPR just the other day.

Okay, those are the medical PSAs of the day from elenabella!


Lyle Daggett said...

Well, I hadn't seen the holiday ads for prostate exams...

The more I think about these, the more I really am curious who came up with the idea to do them. And what they were thinking.

I think these ads have started a trend. A few times lately I've seen one, a brief 30-second spot, showing Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary) singing a cheerful little song about his colonoscopy.

I'm not sure I want to know what medical procedure will be next.

elena said...

!! It might just be Peter Yarrow singing a jingle for Depends, sponsors of The Rolling Stones' Golden Years of Dissatisfaction Tour...

anystrangething said...

I get the impression that they try to recruit people to use in some research project and that the doctors get money from somwhere for performing in that project.