Wednesday, January 26, 2011

FSF: Don't Cure AIDS!

THIS IS THE GRAMMAR POLICE. TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF THE KEYBOARD AND PLACE THEM OVER YOUR HEAD.

Actually I'm not sure if this is the Grammar Police. It might be the "Did you even take 1 second to read what you just wrote?" Police, or the Logic and Sentence Structure Police. Either way, the people who write the advertisements in San Francisco are certifiably retarded.

Ok, so there's this ad around town, on buses and whatnot. Here's what it looks like:


The ad says "Until there's a cure, Tim Lincecum throws strikes." In case you live a hole, Tim Lincecum is the uber young superstar pitcher who basically won the World Series for the Giants. This is a huge, huge deal in SF, because it's the first time we've ever won. Professional sports are important, because they provide us with a relatively safe way to channel those innate tribal urges that make us want to kill people from other places with sticks. They are basically the keystone of civilization, so it's deeply, primally gratifying to have your stick declared the most deadly.

Now that we have that context, let's read this again:

"Until there's a cure, Tim Lincecum throws strikes."

In case the hole you live in is located inside an undersea volcano on Europa, strikes are a good thing. They're what a pitcher is supposed to throw in order to win the game. Lincecum was a hero who won us the World Series because he threw many, many strikes.

Once more now:

"Until there's a cure, Tim Lincecum throws strikes."

So what this ad is saying, is that once HIV/AIDS is cured, Tim Lincecum will stop throwing strikes and the Giants will go back to sucking.

Omg everyone, STOP TRYING TO CURE AIDS RIGHT NOW!

So is this ad sponsored by the Christian Coalition for Hatin' on the Gays? Who would seriously oppose curing a disease?

The answer, of course, is no one. This ad was created by Gilead and Until There's a Cure. Gilead is a pharmaceutical research company that produces a number of antiretroviral medications used in the treatment of HIV, and Until There's a Cure is a charitable organization supporting HIV/AIDS research. Both these groups totally want to cure HIV, they just accidentally made a poorly-worded advertisement. I mean, why would a company that makes its money by treating an incurable disease with drugs that cost $3,000 per month and an organization that will cease to exist once the disease that is the impetus for its existence becomes irrelevant want to stop said disease from being cured?

$25 billion dollars in government funding and a handshake from Bono is why.

It would be a shame for all those nice [Red] products to go to waste, though.

Well ok, so a pharmaceutical research company and philanthropic organization proved to be functionally illiterate. It's not like they're expected to be literary geniuses or anything. It's not as though they're, I don't know, museum curators or something.

Ah, but this is San Francisco, where the museum curators don't do much better. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, affectionately referred to as MOMA by SF residents and less affectionately called "that festering dung heap" by me, put a series of banners on lampposts, each showing a different hipster contemplating a different piece of art with a phrase or question written on it. The idea was to illustrate how art can be a jumping off point for interesting contemplation or discussion.

One showed a chubby guy with a bright green shirt and Where's Waldo glasses looking at Andy Warhol's painting of Mao saying "Is it better to be hated or loved than forgotten?"

I'm honestly not entirely sure what this is supposed to mean. I thought at first that it was supposed to be a Machiavellian reference (which seemed likely given the association with Mao), in which case this is a straight-up grammatical error, and a fairly pathetic one, I might add. "Then" and "than" really aren't that similar.

But as it stands, the sentence is a grammatically correct one, it's just that, if interpreted as written, it makes absolutely no sense. It presents your alternatives as being either loved or hated versus being forgotten, as if people having an emotional response to your existence causes them to forget you. Further, since Machiavelli's comparison is usually translated as being between love and fear, not love and hate, it's entirely possible that the MOMA marketing people mean exactly what they say here, in which case their idiocy extends much further than I originally thought.

FSF.

20 comments:

  1. Sports ignorance equates functional illiteracy?

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  2. When it's your job to design an advertisement that references a particular sport and you don't bother to make sure your reference makes logical sense, you functionally suck at your job. You'd also have to have your head pretty far up your ass to avoid baseball's cultural influence enough not to know how strikes work. I don't know about functional illiteracy, but I do think that makes you functionally retarded.

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    Replies
    1. Almost two years late, but I'm revisiting some old S.M. this morning:

      An anecdote from when I was designing ads for the UC Berkeley student paper. Once, I came in to work and found an assignment to work on an ad for the Oakland As. I was like, "Huh? WTF is this?" I asked my boss "What's an `Oakland As'?" Him: "Um, the baseball team in Oakland?" Me: "There's a baseball team in Oakland?" Him: "Uh... yeah." Me: "Are you sure? I'm pretty sure the baseball team is in SF." Him: "There's one there, too." Me: "Oh. Really? Why are there two?" Him: "There are two football teams, too." Me: "Wait, what? I didn't even know there was one." Him: "The 49ers and the Raiders." Me: "I thought the Raiders were LA." Him: "That was in the '80s." Mind you, I had lived in the Bay Area for 5 years at the time. And I still didn't know all of these things.

      Clearly, I'm an extreme case of sports ignorance. What I did, and what whoever worked on this ad *should* have done, was say, "Well, I think you should give me another assignment. I don't have the faintest idea what happens at one of these things, so you should give this one to someone else." He gladly gave the assignment to someone more able to design the ad.

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    2. Specialization of labor makes the world go 'round.

      Delete
    3. I am from USA, I can't stop thanking Dr abaka in Africa for this Great thing
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  3. Almost a year after the fact, but I see that you responded to a post in November so I'll go ahead and write anyway.

    While I agree with your opinion of SF MOMA, I think you're misunderstanding their ad. They don't mean "then" - they mean "than". They're asking whether it is better to be "loved or hated" than forgotten. Mao is widely hated, but had such an effect on the world that he will never be forgotten.

    The Machiavelli is "It is better to be loved than feared, but it is better to be feared than nothing at all". Good advice for a rennaisance ruler, and for that matter, for Mao.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Gosh, if only I had your erudition. Oh wait, I totally do, which would be obvious if you had actually read my post.

    ReplyDelete


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