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April 14, 2006



bare legs...bare foot, umm women can be affected too? are you reading too deep into this?


I agree. The message is, women get it too (and subtext is, the ones who are not thinking may be more at risk).

Juan Penalosa

Totally reading too much into it. You're totally reaching. The description of the AD campaign on the AFC site, describes nothing of subtextual meaning.


Could be a subtle reference to prostitution, based on the way she's dressed.

Still this could be a message about glorifying the disease itself as well as all these other interpretaions.

Toomy of Athens, Greece

It is using pictures to comment on risky behaviors.

I don't think for allot of sexually active gays (or sexually active straights) the virus was ever "in style" but these behaviors -- it maybe a different story. (and yes, I know there were a tiny sad group that talked about "the gift")

Queer Conservatives

I think she's just supposed to be a slut.


Since I am a hetero lady, the message I got from the be-heeled lady was:

"Hey! You are out on the town, looking hot. And you are even undressing, so something must be looking fun. But for life's-sake, wear a condom! Because it can happen to you. AIDS doesn't discrimiate."

My friends, it is target marketing. We are all targets.


Yeah, it looks like she's just liberal with the poon...

Daniel Gonzales

Forgive me for not having a source on this but I believe the transgendered are disproportionally affected by HIV even compared to other queers.


Reviewing all the ads (and their copy), I'll admit the message seems somewhat muddled. I think they probably meant for there to be some subtext involved (barebacking, the downlow, etc), but I doubt that's the main point of the ads. Viewed from a simplistic standpoint, you could say that they're hoping for the day when AIDS is as 'over' as those damn ugg boots.

On a deeper level, you could say that it's an attack on the superficial 'glamour' attached to the fighting HIV. For too long now, AIDS awareness in the gay community has consisted of nothing more than paying $250 for a plate at the annual benefit dinner. Everybody's dressed nicely, some minor celebrities drop by, nice things are said by all, but rarely do people try to face the day to day reality of the situation. AIDS is no longer a cataclysmic plague. More often it is a chronic but manageable disease. Maybe these ads are just acknowledging the next phase in fighting HIV: the 'gay plague' days are over, time to buckle down and get real about managing this thing.

Just my 0.02.


(and yes, I know there were a tiny sad group that talked about "the gift")

Yes and an even sadder group were the ones back in the late 90's who were relating their HIV positive experience to having been impregnated!!?? HIV serving as the... offspring, and the suspected infector serving as the father.

"Oh you know so-and-so knocked me up but he won't claim our baby."


"So-and-so is the father of my child."

We can come up with some crazy shit.

With response to the ads, there has been no better method proven to get a queer's attention than a fasionably correct hottie.


First of all, I also totally disgree with Boozhy on this one (still love ya, Juan!), these ads are most definitely not trying to glamorize AIDS. But I also think Robbie is reading a bit too much into the images. ASll three images evoke a certain 'style', the shirtless white hunk, the sexy hoodie-wearing urban boy, and the female fashionista. the message is clear: AIDS has been around for far too long, and stylish people know that no trend should last forever. it's clever and striking. i like it.


ok, but that doesn't make Juan right. He said "I thought we had decided collectively to stop glamorizing the virus?" and I don't think that's what this campaign is trying to do at all, not to mention that we don't "collectively" decide to do anything as a community, a fact that annoys the gay left to no end.


p.s. i am LOVING the new block quote formatting. very sassy.


You're right. They're not trying to glamorize the virus. The campaign is very much focused on the dissonant effect created when a fashion image has the word AIDS as the label.

I meant, Juan is right in that I was reading way too much into it.

I wish I had transcribed the phone conversation, because we had a really good discussion about the campaign and the different effects, intentions, and messages the AFC was aiming for. I was highly impressed.

Jack Malebranche

Wow, did you just do REAL research for a blog?

I thought you were just supposed to speculate endlessly on reality, not actually find out what it is...

That gets dangerously close to actual journalism and the dissemination of acurate information, Robbie, which would could lead to informed, intelligent discussion.

Stop it.

You'll make everyone else look bad.


Wow. Robbie REPORTS, we listen.

But I am admittedly nonplussed at the 'jarring message of AIDS as a fasion label' . . . huh? How does one use images of the bare back, the b-boy and the fallen woman without conveying something by those specific images; is the explanation a little too 'not meaning to offend'?

At any rate, I am sure your source is sincere and I am impressed by organizations who are 'damned' no matter what they do.

Craig Ranapia

Sorry, but is it just possible that a lot of the folks who are barebacking on the downlow don't have subscriptions to Out and graduate degrees that allow them to appropriately deconstruct the queer-centric semiotic text?

I'm sure the 'creatives' at CCP are going to win awards for their fabulously innovative 'concept' - but is it actually going to make a difference.


As unPC as that is, you do raise a good point.

Are the groups most likely to transmit the virus the kind of people who are paying attention to public health campaigns? I mean, if you're in the middle of a meth bender, you're not exactly paying attention to that poster on the subway car, are you?

I wonder about HIV, I do. I wonder how much we, the gay community, actually care about it. I realize that statement is a risk to make. "I've lost friends! I've lost family! Who are you to tell us we don't care!"

But, we don't care in the way we ought to. How do the rates go up, how does it all go on, how does it keep happening and happening if we all care so very much?

And basically, it's because most people really just don't care. Especially in urban areas. You get in the middle of that sex and drugs brew, and a poster is very thin gruel.

The thing that bugs me most about HIV activism is the attitude that it just *poof* happens. Yes, there are ad campaigns that solemnly intone, "It could happen to you too . . ." Yes, very serious.

There were also D.A.R.E. posters for a good eight years in my childhood telling me how bad drugs were, and I was still lighting up joints at 15. It's not effective.

An effective campaign would probably be billboards with AIDS patients on them. But that would never fly, would it? An effective campaign would be shaming sexual promiscuity, and they will definitely not happen in the gay male community.

Right now we've got, "Well, if you must be a whore, wear a condom, ok?" Could you imagine a gay group going, "You're a total fucking whore! Shame on you!" *collapses in a fit of laughter* They'd be out of funds in five days.

And that's what I mean. We're not that serious about HIV. We're just serious enough to be reasonably politic. We're soft, nice, not too offensive, not too scolding, not too intruding on personal behaviors.

My aunt was like that. Awful nice woman. Always gave me real swell, gentle advice.

I took absolutely none of it. But, hey, at least she was nice and stuff.


Robbie: My recollection is there was a PSA campaign with AIDS patients talking about/showing the horrors of the symptoms/meds and the tag line something like "AIDS stops with me." I think that was what Bhoozey was refering to with the anti-glorification campaign that was a response to the glossy drug company ads. Effective? I don't know.


Have you looked at/deconstructed the AFC's other current campaign at www.crystalbreaks.org?

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