Anti-Obesity TV Spots Called “Shame” Ads

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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota has sparked a ton of controversy over some TV ads that are deemed negative “shame” ads. The nonprofit health insurer ran the following ads.


Here’s an NPR spot about the ads and the ensuing attacks on Blue Cross for standing behind the controversial ads. While I think the ad falls drastically short of targeting the real problem – which is the government-special interest health and wellness paradigm – I think the ad certainly points toward the notion of accountability, even if the ad falls short on everything else.

There is also an article in The Atlantic that notes the controversy this ad has stirred up among those who are easily offended, or desire to be offended in the defense of others. The blogger Jezebel has raged on this issue on her blog, with her takeaway being “she’s a problem.”

You have the gall to make generalizations about my life because, in your eyes, I superficially resemble a massive, diverse swath of the population whose lives you’ve also deigned to generalize? Whose complex, painful, messy, joyous lives you’ve boiled down to, “Har har too many Cheetos”? Please.

…It would be possible to make a commercial calling for more accountability and transparency in food production and food marketing—the way that corporations and agribusiness feed people poison and call it nutrition. It would be possible to create healthy food that the poorest Americans can afford. All of this is possible.

…The truth is that we live in a country where the system of food production is colossally fucked. There is a systematic campaign to trick people into eating garbage because garbage is cheap to produce. There are whole communities who either can’t afford or physically can’t access fresh, healthy ingredients.

I quoted excerpts from Jezebel because, even though the third paragraph starts inching closer to the truth, she becomes irrational, instead choosing to defend her own healthy fatness. That is where some of her logical points get lost in her annoying self-defense tirade. In spite of the food propaganda that is shoved down our throats on a daily basis and sold as gospel, there is an accountability factor at the individual level for opting out of the Cheetos and sugar addiction mentality, and seeking knowledge to influence self-improvement and a move away from the collective (anti)health establishment. Jezebel is right that “fatness” itself is not the problem – it is a symptom of the larger problem of an epidemic of chronic disease in modern America. Plenty of fat people are healthy whereas folks who are “not fat” are visibly inflamed and battling chronic health problems they have come to normalize as “it’s just me.”

There was a similar controversy in Georgia when ads were run by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. This is a visually compelling ad, but again, watching the ad closing reveals to me that the mother is too brainwashed by the conventional myths and purposeful lies of the establishment to properly answer the question, “Mom, why am I fat?”

11:06 am on October 7, 2012