Unhealthful News 45 – May you have a better Valentine’s Day than this guy

This is not quite news, but I am traveling and giving testimony for a few days, so am pre-writing a few posts.  Today, for Valentine’s Day, I just had to comment on a V-Day themed public service announcement that I saw last week.  Men are advised that they ought to perform a testicular self-exam as a Valentine gift to their ladies, and it is actually somehow even creepier than this summary implies, even if I add the observation that the key phrase is “family jewels”.

I did not post that simply for the opportunity for innuendo about how you should not have to be self-focused on Valentine’s Day of all days, nor even to plant a disturbing image in your head in some sort of jealous “since I have to be traveling today….” thing.  I found it interesting because it represents the thought-free “health promotion” approach.

There is a series of related videos that have run on television at previous holidays (you can trace back to them at youtube from the video) if you want.  They include the similarly  disturbing (though not quite so creepy as this one) messages about scheduling a prostate exam or pap smear for your partner as a Christmas gift that shows you really care.  I find these worse than just weird because they represent the “do what we tell you about your health at all costs” attitude that also manifests in anti-smoking extremism, Drug Wars, etc.  It is more subtle here, but no less excusable:  The producers of these ads think it is acceptable to hijack people’s warm and pleasant feelings about love and holidays.  Probably most viewers will just ignore or laugh at the ads, but if they are effective it means that they have gotten into someone’s head such that s/he thinks about somewhat icky medical needs when trying to think about romantic ideas.

Of course we should think about those medical needs sometimes.  On average, we should think about them more than we do, which no doubts creates frustration among those who have self-appointed to the role of reminding us.  But their thinking it is ok to use any means necessary to plant the message is not much different (and in some ways is almost worse) than mandating we follow the health advice under penalty of law. 

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