Monday, June 8, 2009
Field of Dreams?
I saw the above commercial this past weekend. It's sponsored by the Prostate Cancer Foundation and it basically shows a montage of little kids (ages 6-10) who have to resort to having a game of catch with disembodied gloves attached to garage doors and mannequins and mattresses, because ol' Dad isn't around anymore. The implication, you see, is that he died of prostate cancer. The message is simple: get screened for prostate cancer and support research in the field because maybe some day that will be your kid out there in some lonely field, having a catch with a scarecrow or a sycamore tree.
I certainly won't argue the point that prostate cancer is a serious health threat (#5 leading cause of cancer death in men). But the presentation in the commercial is laughably disingenuous. The commercial would have us believe that prostate cancer is striking down men across the country in their prime, leaving fatherless young children in its remorseless wake. But the reality is that the median age of diagnosis of prostate cancer is 68! And most of these cancers are slow growing and indolent, anyway. The ad is sensationalistic and irresponsibly misleading. It would be like the National Breast Cancer Foundation producing an advertisement where you had Prom Kings showing up at high school dances without dates because the Prom Queens had all died of breast cancer. Sure, it would be a powerful ad; but at what cost? Cancer is too serious a health issue to risk compromising the credibility of research organizations with dishonest advertising campaigns like the one above....