....LMB: "Rape: The Anti-Drug"....

November 20, 2002

Everyone's favorite government-funded fearmongers, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (remember them? They're the ones who told you that if you bought drugs, you were responsible for 9-11) have begun a new set of TV commericals using a new set of scare tactics. They basically focus on various tragedies that could occur when someone is under the influence of marijuana (e.g. getting high while driving could cause impaired reaction time and lead to deadly car accidents). But one of them is very disturbing for an unintended message that it sends out.

The ad is called "Couple," according to the PDFA's hip teen website "Free Vibe" (sponsored by DKNY and MTV, featuring tons of young celebrities allegedly opposed to drugs). You can watch it here.

"Couple" features two young white teens at a party. A young dark-haired boy is sitting on a couch, and a young blonde girl walks into the shot and collapsing all giggly onto the couch. As she hits the couch, she hands the boy a small marijuana pipe. Quick fade to the next shot, a very similar one of the giddy girl collapsing on the couch and handing back the pipe. After the third couch-fall, she seems pretty out of it, nearly unconscious. The young boy quickly sets down the pipe, moves over to the girl, and starts unbuttoning her shirt. The camera moves to a shot of the smoking pipe on table, and we hear the girl mumble "no" and the boy try to quiet her with a "shhh." Then we see the commericial's final taglines: "Marijuana can impair your judgement", which fades out and is replaced by "Harmless?"

We could slowly dissect this ad all we want, but I think we can see the simple message: "girls, don't smoke pot because then some guy will rape you." And while it's true that any intoxicating substance can make it easier for you to be taken advantage of, this commericial is based on a firm bedrock of "blame the victim." This girl on the commercial is going to be raped, and the PDFA are saying that it's her fault because she got high. Somehow the fact that someone else did the raping doesn't get much emphasis. And that tagline, "can impair your judgement"? Are they saying that while under the influence, the girl showed "poor judgement" and decided to get raped?

The ad very clearly shows either: a) a girl got so high that she was barely conscious, and then some guy raped her, or b) a guy who intentionally got a girl really wasted so that he could rape her. And the ad says pretty clearly that this attack is because of "impaired judgement": hers.

So in the interests of countering harmful propaganda, let me write a new ending for this ad.

[we hear girl mumble "no" and guy try to quiet her with a "shh."]

Girl wakes up next morning, disheveled and confused. Slowly the memories return, and she starts to cry. She then stops, and wipes away the tears angrily. She seizes the phone and starts making some calls.

We see the dark-haired boy outside his home, shooting baskets. He hears footsteps behind him, he turns. Camera pans up from long shadows to blonde girl and several of her friends. They are all angry, and hold steel shovels in their hands. The blonde girl lifts hers and swings. Boy falls. The girls quickly surround his fallen form and beat him with the shovels as he protests and cries.

Tagline: "Girls, smoking marijuana can cloud your mind, hamper your motor control, and make you vulnerable. But if someone tries something, don't let the motherfuckers get away with it."

Tagline fade, replaced with: "Harmless?"

Posted by Jake at 05:35 PM

That commercial, like all of the other heavy-handed anti-drug propaganda since Harry Anslinger, is offensive in all the ways you describe.
Your alternative ending...
Remember the concepts of peaceful resolution? Of teaching our kids violence is never the answer? Apparantly those philosophies don't apply to gender politics. A guy makes an offensive comment? Kick him in the balls. At least slap his face. And if a guy ALLEGEDLY commits rape, let's whip up a posse and beat him to death with shovels. Uh huh. I see little difference in your moral standards and those of GW Bush. You lost me.
- Derby

Posted by: Derby at November 21, 2002 10:53 PM

Eh. I write what I feel like writing at the time. If every entry had to encapsulate my entire moral system, I'd have to spend a lot more time crafting them for completeness and balance, and that's no fun. And if this is no fun, there's not much incentive to do it at all.

Maybe I watched too many cartoons as a kid, but I've always found the idea of whacking someone with a shovel pretty funny. Someone being whacked with many shovels = extra funny. A rapist being whacked with shovels as comeuppance for his raping = funny + poignant.

Posted by: Jake at November 22, 2002 01:00 AM

I'd like to subit the idea that women are often encouraged to pursue "peaceful resolutions" and to remember that "violence is not the answer" MUCH more than boys and men are. That's always the first thing we're told in so many situations where our safety and the sovereignty of our own bodies is compromised: "Now, honey, I'm sure there's some way to work this out. Let's write letters to our congressmen / engage in productive dialogue / work for change / think of Gandhi / etc etc etc." But c'mon: rape IS violence. If I were raped my first instinct (and my second, and third, and 28th) would NOT be to turn the other cheek. I'm killing the motherfucker. Or at least working very hard at trying to do so.

I'm not saying women should not be encouraged to pursue peaceful resolutions to problems, and I'm not giving them a blank check to attack others with shovels simply 'cos they happen to be women. What I'm saying is that too many problems come up in the first place because women are told to be peaceful and appease others at all costs--even if the cost is a woman's own physical safety, or her life. We need to be very careful that we do not discourage the completely healthy desire to protect one's self from harm in the name of promoting "peaceful solutions."

There are some things, after all, to which rage and agression are completely reasonable responses.

Posted by: michele at November 22, 2002 10:19 AM

No. That sort of response is completely unacceptable. If all crime victims were encouraged to react to a crime in a similair manner there would be chaos. I don't care if it's rape or even murder. Go to the police first.

Why is everyone so concerned with rape? I think the prevailance of boys and men being circumcised is a human rights issue. Essentially, circumcision robs a man of an idex card sized peice of errogenous tissue. This tissue by itself is capable of causing orgasm, the penis loses about half it's sensation immediately. This is done a few days after birth and it is mind-numbingly painful for the boy. No pain killers are used. Psychologist now believe that circumcision causes life long psychological harm, and tests are only now being done on the long term effects which were once believe to be minimal if any. Now they know that circumcision is responsible for the callousing and desensitizing of the glans, rigidness of the penile skin, painful intercourse, and adherence due to improperly healed skin after the circumcision.

The foreskin is healthy tissue. There is nothing wrong with it. You wouldn't pull your finger nails out to prevent nail fungus would you? Or pull yout teeth out and immediatly start using dencher. Every affliction caused by the existence of the foreskin is several times more common in women due to vaginal folds than it is in men. Yet female circumcision, which does prevent UTI's and cervical cancer like male circumcsion, is illegal.

It's time to start respecting the rights of our boys' bodies. Circumcision needs to be illegal unless there is an actual problem. If you have penile cancer for example circumcision might remove the malignancy. But to circumcise millions of men to prevent the deaths of ten of them in old age is preposterous.


Isn't that even worse than rape?

Posted by: Gerry at November 27, 2002 08:27 PM

Isn't that even worse than rape?

Ah, no.

Posted by: at January 29, 2003 03:13 PM

I have a bigger concern. Who funds these ads. As a tax payer, I'm pretty sure it is me. I want to know what can be done to stop them. They are fuled by lies and propaganda and they are getting worse.I am sick of these people assuming the American public is stupid. According to the History channel, the main reason marijuana was made illegal in the first place was because the government needed a vehicle to get rid of Mexican migrant workers. And let's not forget keeping marijuana illegal keeps our prison full of young, male African Americans. It's time the quiet majority tells these people to shut the fuck up.

Posted by: kathy dockery at February 2, 2003 12:12 PM

With the paranoia that comes from weed, I really can't picture a girl being stoned to the point to were she is going to let someone rape her. I've been extremely stoned and the only way I could see that happening is if she was mixing weed with alcohol because the alcohol would eliminate alot of the paranoia. Alot of people don't realize marijuana is an intoxication that your mind can adjust to and you can do perfectly normal things while stoned. The paranioa caused by weed is a good thing because it reminds you of the consequences of possible actions. You really need to have a decent amount of experiences with weed to see this happening.

Posted by: Billgates at February 24, 2003 01:44 PM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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