Because taking care of the Earth isn't just for hippies!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

"Safe Pollution"

An environmental ad campaign sponsored by Friends of the Earth, a British government-funded organization, shows condoms covering point sources of air pollution (via Grist). This struck me as rather odd - what exactly is the message they're trying to get across with this? What do they presuppose one thinks about the use of condoms in the first place? The message wasn't very clear to me - other than possibly a cheap shot at sex to get people to visit their website. Here are some possible lines of thought I came up with:

Common thoughts about condoms:

-As long as you use them, you're having "safe sex," where you don't really have to worry about the consequences of your actions.

Presuppositions they make:

-Condoms protect us from unwanted "pollution." That unwanted pollution is specifically sperm, which has the potential for creating human life, or any number of known or unknown diseases.

Possible conclusions one is supposed to draw:

-Pollution has unwanted consequences

-??? I really don't know...

Conclusions that I made from this ad:

I think it's really interesting that they used this metaphor specifically in their ads, because I think it really tells more about the inadequacies of condom use than about air pollution. There's no way you could ever catch air pollution from different sources by using something like a condom, it's very clearly absurd. Rather than taking responsibility for air pollution and looking for ways to reduce it or control it, this ad is showing a culture where immediate gratification is worshipped, personal responsibility is abandoned, and band-aid solutions for unwanted side effects are actively searched for. Sound familiar? Perhaps like part of the Church's argument against artificial contraception?

It's really interesting to me how both environmental groups and Christian/prolife groups often end up preaching about the same values: unselfishness, responsibility, and foresight - but in very different ways. What's the difference? What each group holds as their primary conviction in life. For the enviros - the Earth is sacred (or whatever other pc/equivalent term one prefers) and we must take care of it. For the Christian/prolife groups - human life is sacred and we must take care of it.

Is either conviction a bad one to have? No.

Are they mutually exclusive? I certainly don't think so - although I'm sure there are those who would disagree.

What conclusions would you draw from such an ad campaign?

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At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I conclude that those people launched one of the silliest ad campaigns since the PETA ran the billboard ads depicting The Blessed Mother cradling a dead chicken in her arms. :p

At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Claire, I read your blog, all valid point on your behalf. I think that picture was rather cheap. Condoms don't fix the world, perhaps just prevent those who could fix it from arriving.



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