(If you have never read “Breakfast Smoothies” you might want to read the short introductory page. Explanations about the most blatant lies usually follow the essay.)
I was serving breakfast smoothies to my neighbors, Ben and Erica around my pool. They usually cut me some slack when I’m ranting about cancer because they know my wife died of breast cancer some years ago.
“Whoa, these are mighty pink this morning,” said Ben. “And it’s not even October.”
“Don’t tell me you are calling these ‘breast cancer smoothies’,” said Erica. “That’s just too much.”
It’s Alicia’s payback, I said. There has been so much on the news these past couple of days about breast cancer. She’s tired of my tirades on the subject.
“So that’s our morning. Tirades and breast cancer smoothies,” said Erica.
No serious problem has ever been solved by marketing happiness. Happy faces are a great way to sell feel-good services and products.
Happy faces sell hamburgers. Ronald McDonald. Colonel Sanders. The Burger King.
Happy faces sell cars, weight loss programs, college degrees, TV shows.
To address serious issues you need serious solutions and serious marketing programs. Look at the marketing programs that have addressed other serious problems: World War II, smoking, putting a man on the moon, heart disease, and violent crime. All addressed by seriousness.
The happiness advertising surrounding breast cancer is causing us to not take the problem seriously. Those events distract us.
The marketing programs use pink – a happy color. Smiling faces on women. Smiling teams show that we’re all in this together. Happily.
The walking and running programs from Avon, Komen Y-ME, American Cancer Society and all the other organizations show happy women. What are they smiling about?
Yes, a false hope. A hope that you can survive breast cancer and its treatments. Not the hope that you will never contract breast cancer.
Can you imagine celebrating other issues with the same cheerfulness?
What if we celebrated heart disease with a cookout? Heart attack survivors smiling and having a good time lounging around a pool cooking steaks and fried chicken.
“Wouldn’t show them running, that’s for sure,” interjected Ben.
How about a March for Rape. You could have rape victims celebrating survival and cheerful about therapy. The happy lives of survivors.
We could have a Walk Against Violence. Imagine victims of muggings and drive-by shootings marching in smiling camaraderie; displaying the happiness of surviving violent crime. Can you see the next-of-kin therapy groups marching and singing songs?
But that’s not what happens, I continued. We deal with violent crime by showing the horror.
News desks show the ugliness: the photo of the bloody body with the gunshot wound, the victims relatives crying on each other shoulders, the body lying on the ground. That horror generates a demand for law enforcement. It is a method of showing concern, distaste, and disgust and how appalled we are with the situation.
Ben said, “You know the old news saying. ‘If it bleeds it leads.’ That’s what gets something done.”
The happiness factor lulls us into a false sense that we are actually accomplishing something. It hides the ugliness of breast cancer.
“Well, once again, you’ve started my day with happiness,” said Ben as he got up. “How about if we walk for smoothies,” he said to Erica.