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Catwoman Breast Cancer Awareness Ad (I swear to God, this costume thing should not be that hard)

January 9, 2012

Catwoman Breast Exam Ad

Does it really matter what I say at this point?

Okay, in case anyone is actually reading down here, that picture is from a breast cancer awareness campaign rolled out by an advertising agency in Mozambique late last year, when it might have received a little more attention if we weren’t all occupied trying to figure out what Bane was saying in The Dark Knight Rises prologue and resetting the trailer audio against footage of The Lion King.

That said, this should have been a really good campaign.  Because there are factions in comic book fandoms that rail against the titties, who rail against fantasy and sexuality and anything men enjoy looking at as if it’s an insult to women.  But in the words of West Wing’s Josh Lyman:

You know, I realize that as an adult not everyone shares my view of the world, and with an issue as hot as gun control I’m prepared to accept a lot of different points of view as being perfectly valid, but we can all get together on the grenade launcher, right?

It’s breast cancer.  We’re mammals, we can all get together on this one.   We’ve all got ‘em, ladies.  A-cups, D-cups, and the most vitriolic Balent-bashers of every size and shape can all raise their hand for this one: Breast Cancer BAD.  No matter how much it offends you that men like looking at them, dying because a lump went unnoticed in all that fleshiness would suck.

The message of this campaign, which features Catwoman among other busty comic book icons like Storm, She-Hulk and Wonder Woman performing various stages of a breast exam is simple and solid:

There are no super women, nobody is immune to breast cancer, every woman should do this.

That message is delivered following the most basic rules of communication as first codified by Aristotle: Step 1 – Get their attention.  It doesn’t matter what you have to say if you don’t nail that.  You have to GET YOUR AUDIENCE’S ATTENTION.

And unlike some generator repair shack in Mobile, Alabama headlining their webpage “SEX – SEX – SEX, Natalie Portman Naked,” this picture is actually ABOUT the very thing it’s getting your attention to talk about.

So seriously, this is a good ad.  This is a good campaign.  And I desperately, desperately want to tell anybody who has a problem with it to reexamine their screwed up sexual politics.

If only it wasn’t for the claws.  ‘Cause that just looks painful.  I love Catwoman, and I am practically the spokes model for “Get over it, there’s nothing wrong with big-titted women in comics!”  But I look at that and wince.  Of course, if you’re featuring iconic, busty comic book women, you’ve got to include Catwoman.  And of course, you’re going to have the claws in there because how else do we know who it is?   But… look at them.  In the way everything else about this attention getting campaign is exactly right for the message they’re delivering, that is exactly wrong.  It screams (as someone posted on Facebook) “This is an idea from a bunch of teenage boys” – because I don’t believe any woman who has actually done this is going to see anything but those claws.

And who is the ad really for?

So, Mozambique ad guys, love your idea, love your enthusiasm.  Little tip from the target demographic: next time it’s a message intended for the curvilinear customers, run it past a curvilinear coworker first and if she happens to say “These three are great but lose that one” even though “that one” is the center of an upcoming Hollywood blockbuster with unprecedented image recognition—do it.  Doesn’t matter if you don’t understand why.  Just do it.

Chris Dee
catwoman-cattales.com

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