A ways back, a sort of controversy erupted over a fairly well-known breast cancer awareness campaign. Apparently, at more than a few schools throughout North America, boys had taken to wearing the colorful “I (heart) Boobies” rubber bracelets, adopting them as a sort of informal “gang” sign indicating “cool.” Cool, that is, ‘cause they had the word “boobies” dangling around their wrists and the grownups couldn’t do a ding dang thing about it. Cue Beevis and Butt-head going “Heh, heh, boobies, heh, heh.”
Eventually actual adults stepped up and told the little smart asses they had to stop wearing the things at school because it was in poor taste. Predictably, the outfits that had dreamt up the promotion in the first place rushed to the defence of their smug little bracelet flashers, reminding any and all that it was about “awareness” and nothing more. Right....because pre-teens are usually on the front line in any war against breast cancer. Anyway, the party continued, mainly because the charity pedaling the bracelets was getting five or more bucks a crack. Money talks, baby.
Finally, some schools started to crack down and that touched off a firestorm of shrieking by no less a crusading champion than the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). It rode to the rescue of sniggering pre-teens everywhere, announcing righteously that the children’s freedom to express themselves ought to be respected in full. They then affirmed the right of the boys to wear the bracelets and threatened to sue the bejesus out of anyone who said they could not. Some schools caved, others didn’t but most just sighed at the overall uproar and said “whatever.” Somehow, the world moved on.
Today, an old cause got a fresh makeover as movie and TV star Katherine Heigl presents her pitch to rid the world of unwanted pets: it’s called I Hate Balls and beneath that obvious double-entendre lies an actual charitable campaign sporting a website, merchandise for sale and a funny, funny, funny commercial released exclusively through comedy website Funny or Die. In the ad, Katherine does her best take on being a bitchy, man-hating shrew who stalks around looking for excuses to remove men’s nutsacks. Except that she means animals, ‘cause doing that to animals is legal, while the other is not.....at least yet. The whole campaign is designed to be edgy and hip and insider-cool. In fact, the box it’s so outside of has already been recycled. But no matter what they may claim, it really comes off just as moronically dim as those stupid boobies bracelets.
Look, I have little doubt we’ll eventually see legions of young girls adopting “I Hate Balls” bracelets to go with their official “I Hate Balls” T-shirts. And you can easily imagine their innocently smiling faces. “But Mr. Johnson (writer note: see, I can do subtle penis jokes too!), I’m only supporting the neutering of pets” as they wink and giggle to their friends. The fact that Ms. Heigl is using hate (even as a joke) to raise money is as bizarrely humorous as it is personally disturbing. And I’d look for help salvaging my now damaged male self-respect from crass attacks on what I was simply born with but the valiant warriors of the ACLU are far too busy chastising The Walking Dead for not showing the proper way to induce an abortion. I guess I am truly alone in my humiliating testicle ownership.
A writer at Salon posted a very thoughtful and articulate takedown of the entire I (Heart) Boobies campaign. She explained – in a nutshell – that tasteless promotions fixating on the baser instincts and tastes of people do nothing to help the cause in question, and do far more to insult everyone truly affected by its touch. I could not agree more – and even as Katherine Heigl and her oh-so-funny team at I Hate Balls think they’re winning a round for the neutering of pets they are actually embarrassing themselves even more than the initiative they claim to stand for. If a mock hatred of human and animal balls is so humorously engrossing that Heigl figures she can use it to stir the masses to neutering action perhaps we have bigger problems coming down the pipe? Is hate ever a good reason to base anything on, even if it’s just a “fake” hatred of men? They’re not doing anyone any favours. But really, what do I know? I’m just a thick-headed moron tethered to an all-engrossing set of flappy balls. However could I focus intelligently on anything?