Ed Team

Meth Makes You a Gay Hooker

Filed By Ed Team | November 14, 2011 9:05 AM | comments

Filed in: You Gotta See This
Tags: meth, PSAs, public service announcement

Don't use meth, kids. It'll turn you into a gay hooker giving head in a seedy hotel bathroom to a middle aged bald man. Or something. Why do these PSAs always revolve around fear tactics? It's been proven already that they don't work!


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I thought the PSAs were well done. Fear appeals in messaging works, but depends almost entirely within the context of perceived efficacy . For example, fear-based messaging demonstrating the effects of polio when a child is unvaccinated can be effective, since the solution is a simple vaccination that most people would feel is within their locus of control: they feel they can get a vaccination for their child more or less easily (perceived self efficacy), and they feel that the vaccination would immunize against polio (perceived response efficacy), thus making the avoidance of polio largely possible (high perceived efficacy).

However, fear-based messaging warning of imminent radiation poisoning from an impending nuclear strike is likely to be ineffective, because there is no simple behavioral solution to avoid the consequence espoused (no self efficacy to avoid ambient radiation or a nuclear strike and little to no response efficacy, as a civilian, to protect against ambient environmental radiation poisoning). "Or something."

There is a difference here between fear appeals and appealing to fear. The former actually has a large amount of research detailing how fear appeals work and what are key components to successful fear-based messaging as outlined above and informs a variety of behavior change models.

The latter is definitively an appeal to fear based on deception, often terrorizing people irresponsibly with outlandish claims, vagueness, or little or no bearing on actual reality and no proposed solution except to promote an agenda. With the subject being crystal meth, this does not apply here.

While the concern about same-sex intercourse as a tool for fear is a valid one, the idea of people turning to sex work to feed their addictions is real. Meth f**ks people up in a major way, including a good section of the gay male community. Meth addiction, like many serious substance addictions, can cause you to do anything to feed that addiction, a concept also espoused by the parallel clip of a boy physically assaulting his brother to get money for meth.

In light of the fact that this is one of four PSAs that echo similar, real consequences of addiction, rather than what is portrayed in this criticism as one PSA singling out same-sex sex work as "the" consequence of meth addiction, it seems highly suspect that this is a criticism of the ads at all and just discomfort over this particular consequence. The only thing this PSA probably wasn't realistic about is that if this kid was on meth, he might be having the time of his life turning that trick.

Is there a reason why you excluded the other 3 PSAs that featured meth causing hallucinations, insanity, and addiction-induced physical violence? Or was someone bristling so much at the depiction of same-sex sex work as a consequence of meth addiction that it was worth criticizing the entire campaign without discussing the other three PSAs? Is this "Starbucks ad racism" all over again?

I just didn't see the other PSAs, luminum. Can you link them please?

The sad part is, these ads were directed by Darren Aronofsky. They're definitely his style, but they're also a little heavy-handed.

I think they're fantastic, and I also think you're missing the message. I don't believe it's theme is "don't do meth because this will happen" so much as it is "if you keep doing meth, this is what you could look forward to your life as..."

As someone who's an alcoholic/addict in recovery, I can vouch for all the places my using took me, including being locked up in the psych ward (so I could rest LOL) and then coming out to do it all over again. Stealing from my family and finally doing very low budget porn and turning 20 dollar hollas. And no, while I was high, I wasn't having the time of my life turning those tricks. I was looking forward to their being over so I could get my loot and get the hell out of there.

I've circulated these vids quite a bit, including to some of the newly sober that I sponsor. Everyone so far is giving them a thumb's up as being a very realistic portrayal and message.