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Gidget Gets Osteoporosis

Aug
23
2006

Am I the only one bothered by the fact that Sally Field is doing a pharmaceutical commercial?
It’s a given that as soon as a celebrity is diagnosed with a disease it immediately becomes a “cause” we’re all suposed to care about. Michael J. Fox didn’t start nattering after the government to fund more research to cure Parkinson’s Disease until he stood to benefit from that research. Christopher Reeve lobbied from his wheelchair for funding for research mitigating the effects of spinal injuries. And Bob Dole didn’t start touting Viagra until. . . well, never mind.
All this is rather disconcerting. The government doesn’t care about a disease you or I might contract, but is very concerned if Alex Keaton gets sick?
Okay, what really bothers me about all this is Ms. Field’s timely announcement that she has osteoporosis coupled with her appearance in an ad campaign for Boniva, an osteoporosis medication manufactured and co-marketed by F. Hoffmann-La Roche and GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical companies.
Naturally, Sally says, the important thing is that women stay active and see a doctor about their vulnerability to osteoporosis so that “you and your doctor need to choose what’s right for you,” which, as I recall, is the exact wording used in every drug ad I’ve ever seen, usually jumbled in with “side effects include a sudden releasing of the bowels” or something to that effect.
So when, I wonder, did Sally start being so concerned about the women of the United States being susceptible to weak bones? Evidently it didn’t occur to her when her doctor told her he was watching her for signs of the disease, since that pathology went all the way back to her dear old “Grandma Gin” (all together: Awwwww. . .). So Gidget waited until now to tell us? How many women have blindly entered menopause and become crippled because The Flying Nun waited until this ad campaign to raise their awareness?
The fact is, in order to “Rally with Sally” you have to go to the Boniva website and sign her pledge to get enough calcium and Vitamin D, stay active, not to smoke, not to drink alcohol to excess, see your doctor and take your medication that you and your doctor have chosen as right for you. But really, folks, she’s just concerned for your health.
Okay. Even that is not what really bothers me about this ad. What really bothers me is:
This is Sally Norma Rae Places in the Heart Field. Not Janine “I Haven’t Worked Since Northern Exposure” Turner selling eye drops.
Is she this hard up for the cash? Does she have some sort of gambling addiction that must be funded by hawking drugs on national television? Is Sally Field the M.C. Hammer of the movie industry?
It was bad enough that we had to swallow that she was forced into a “guest star” role on ER (pronounced “errr” in my household) – though this was somewhat mitigated by the fact that she was given an Emmy for the part – but this is Sally Norma Rae Places in the Heart Field! Remember? She was so happy that “right now,” we “really liked” her, even though she thought the industry thought less of her because she. . . she. . . had worked in television.
I worry Meryl Streep is going to turn up in eczema ads* or Jodie Foster will try to sell me birth control. I mourn that June Allison advertised adult diapers. I thank God Katharine Hepburn never caved.
I won’t bore you with a drawn out lament about the lack of roles for middle-aged women in Hollywood. The only ones interested in middle-aged women are other middle-aged women, but we’re not willing to fork out the money to go see them unless its bargain night or we have a coupon. And we don’t respond to the advertising surrounding by every movie release because we’ve pretty much seen through all the spin nonsense (except when it comes to face creams). We don’t respond to the appearing-on-Oprah hype that has been the salvation of many a mediocre book or movie, mostly because we suspect that, like just about everyone else in the media, the all-knowing national conscience that is Ms. Winfrey has her own agenda.
And that is what bothers me about this ad and all the others like it. Ms. Field has her own agenda, Hoffman-Roche and Glaxo have their agenda and both agendas ultimately make them money.
And making money is not a bad thing — unless it is couched in the façade of performing a public service.

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 2:25 PM | Permalink

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