The other day, we were sitting around watching some TV when we came across a Harry Potter marathon on ABC Family. This is not a channel we ever watch, but we are Harry Potter fans (please spare me any lecture). So, we decided to dive right in. It didn’t take long to realize that during every commercial break, they were running an ad for Plan B. You know, the birth control overdose pill. Obviously, it’s the perfect commercial to air on a channel that claims its primary audience is families.
Let me tell you what I think about the commercial.
It is irritatingly cheerful, completely lacking in tact. “Here, have an overdose of hormonal birth control so you can go back to your life of guitar playing in the backyard. We wouldn’t want anything to get in the way of your convenient, baby-free lifestyle. Lord knows how a baby can ruin careers and cause boyfriends to leave you. Never mind you just prevented a life from being brought into the world.”
(I am not getting into any medical information about the pill. I just want to discuss the type of lifestyle I think the commercial endorses. Feel free to look the medical facts up on your own.)
Everything about the commercial reminds me of the Valtrex ads for genital herpes. You remember those? “I have herpes, but I love having sex and riding horses. I think it is totally unfair for the consequences of my actions to stop me from having all the fun I want to have in life. Why should an STD or worry about spreading it slow anyone down?” (Yes, I know that not everyone that has herpes was being reckless or acting irresponsibly.)
I have no issues with the existence of Valtrex. People make mistakes. There are all kinds of situations where STD’s can be spread, so I am not trying to shame anyone here. But, I do want to point out the similarities between the commercials. They both suggest that society still sees pregnancy and STDs in the same light. Popular culture has forgotten that pregnancy is one of the good results of having sex. Oh yeah, I am also pretty sure procreation is the primary and biological purpose for having sex. Am I wrong here? I subscribe to the idea that if you are going to have sex, you should be very okay with having children. If you are not okay with that, then you should abstain. I promise you won’t die. In fact, you may discover that so many other things in life are more worth your time until you are ready for children. Food might taste better, trips could be more fun, maybe take up knitting, or who knows…the possibilities are endless.
Frankly, I am tired of a culture that looks at fertility and children as these huge cumbersome things that only get in the way having a fulfilling life. I am also tired of being told that sex without consequences or responsibility is a part of that fulfilling life. It’s like giving a 16 year old a new car and saying, “Don’t worry about maintenance on the car or driving drunk. If anything you don’t like happens, we have a quick fix for you. It will cost you money, but it will be like it never happened.” I hate to talk about pregnancy as a consequence. But, it seems to me that the commercial and birth control industry has labeled it that way. They have lumped pregnancy in with all the negative consequences that are associated with sex.
Here’s my other issue. Who’s the target? To whom are we trying to sell the idea of sex without consequences? The ABC Family line up includes Gilmore Girls, Switched At Birth, Pretty Little Liars, the Twilight Movies, and several other shows aimed at teens and young adults. I assume it’s mostly a female audience as well. I understand that Plan B is a product and it is put out by a company looking to make money. I just think they are really sleazy about how they do it. That, and I personally have a huge moral problem with their product.
When I look at the actors in the commercial and the actors on the TV show, there are obvious similarities. I guess that would be “Advertising 101,” but what are they advertising? A life without consequences? Sex without responsibility? Happiness over real life? Children just get you stuck? I can’t stand it! When I see this kind of thing, I totally understand why people boycott cable.
Big tobacco used to advertise to kids and teens. They have since been forced to admit the negative effects of smoking. Look at all the ads that tell us how bad smoking is. When will the birth control pushers be held accountable? When will they be forced to talk about the negative effects of a promiscuous life-style? When will they start pushing abstinence as a a better solution to teen and unplanned pregnancy? I guess there is no money in abstinence. I guess they don’t want anyone with a wallet and sex organs to think that it’s perfectly acceptable to abstain. And here’s a bigger question. When will our government force these manufacturers of hormonal birth control to admit the negative effects that happen from their use? After all, hormonal birth control is listed as a Class 1 carcinogen (cancer causing drug). Guess what else is a Class 1 carcinogen? Tobacco. And if regular birth control pills cause cancer, then you better believe that the Plan B pill does as well. It is birth control on steroids. Plan B is like taking 4 birth control pills at one time.
I have pretty much just spent this entire post griping, asking redundant questions, and giving no solutions. Truth be told, I am not sure what the solution is. I know that what we teach our kids starts in the home. I know what they are watching and I know what their little brains are taking in. If there is any positive that comes from those commercials being on air, it’s that it gives us an opportunity to talk to our kids about life choices. We don’t want to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the things we don’t agree with. I want my kids to learn about fertility and responsible choices from their parents…not their friends on the bus, not magazines, not from big pharma and certainly not anyone that hopes to make money off my kids, just hoping they will make a mistake.
“Popular culture is a place where pity is called compassion, flattery is called love, propaganda is called knowledge, tension is called peace, gossip is called news, and auto-tune is called singing.”
― Criss Jami