Monday, October 03, 2005

It's not safe! Not safe, I tell you! - Cut!

A can of worms is always opened up when members of a utilitarian profession criticise the way in which members of a creative, or (literally speaking) useless profession go about their work. Angry exchanges arise because, after all, utilitarian professionals have chosen their particular career in line with their concerns — and people with particular concerns usually feel that those concerns should be shared by all. So they give their opinions a passionate airing.

And in the wider world outside narrow subjects of concern, the majority of people listen to the raised voices and hear a risible, interfering whine.

That’s what I hear in today’s accusation by doctors, writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, that Hollywood films are very bad and irresponsible because in the space of one film, characters have sex but don’t often develop STDs.

Other concerns proceeding from the furrowed medical brow are that drugs are used, but with no health warning flashing up onscreen. Or condoms aren’t held up to the camera in what could, in the end, only be seen as a sermonizing way which would arguably ruin a film.

Dr Gunasekera and his two co-authors, Simon Chapman and Sharon Campbell, studied the top 200 movies of all time, as listed on the Internet Movie Database in March 2004. The researchers excluded any movie filmed before 1983, the pre-HIV era.

In 68%, people smoked and in 32% they got drunk. In only 8% was cannabis used and in 7% people took other non-injecting drugs. The researchers say the portrayal tended to be positive and without negative consequences. “The study showed there were no references to important consequences of unsafe sex such as HIV transmission, spread of STDs or unwanted pregnancy,” said Dr Gunasekera. “The social norm being presented in movies is concerning, given the HIV and illicit drug pandemics in developing and industrialised countries.”

Basic Instinct has six episodes of sex with no condoms used, no birth control and no public health consequences. American Pie has seven sex scenes, all involving new partners with no condoms or birth control measures. The “only consequences were social embarrassment”, the report says. Die Another Day has three sex episodes, all with new partners, “no condoms, no birth control, no consequences at all”.

Far be it from me to claim knowledge of all the intricacies of medical knowledge undoubtedly possessed by the concerned physicians. But, in the nicest possible way, bollocks to them. :o) Exhibiting all the awareness of cro-magnon man, they have spectacularly failed to recognise an exceptionally simple, visible, downright glaring point — which I’ve occasionally taken issue with here — Hollywood is not about providing culturally relevant teaching, but largely mindless entertainment.

Please, good doctors, realise this: the ramifications of your profession indeed extend to the bodies of every single one of us, but we all have wider lives countless times more massive than any profession can be. Don’t sermonise, or we’ll be forced to issue statements expressing our urgent and pressing concern regarding the lack of incidence of top-notch acting in medicine. ;o)

If you want to write to one of the doctors, follow the first link above: contact info’s given, refreshingly.

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