Does growing a moustache raise awareness about prostate cancer?
No. Movember, the term for the month-long November campaign to get men to grow moustaches to support prostate cancer, is a type of slactivism. It's just about the silliness and the fun. It's not about prostate cancer. It's an excuse to grow a freaking moustache and also feel like you're doing something important.
Anyway, what does awareness mean in this case, exactly? Does your moustache share information about the importance of screening, or where to get screened? Does it tell you how you can prevent prostate cancer (if you even can)? Does it tell you the symptoms? Does it tell you who's affected?
Of course it doesn't. But before you tell me that the moustache is a starting point for a more important prostate cancer conversation -- a ridiculous suggestion, if you think about it -- look around. Has Movember actually improved awareness of the disease?
Take Schick, a razor company participating in Movember. As part of their campaign for it, they are giving out "License to grow" if you Like them on Facebook. I don't see any mention of prostate cancer on this "License" or their Facebook Page, let alone substantial awareness of the cause. The emphasis of course is on getting you to buy their products to create a moustache. I wouldn't mind that so much if prostate cancer was at least part of their conversation.
Schick's lack of messaging and awareness about prostate cancer is typical of the Movember movement.*
I don't even mind if campaigns for serious issues have a light tone. Prostate cancer awareness doesn't have to be a morose thing. And fun things do tend to get more attention. But Movember is just trivial. Whoever made the connection between moustaches and cancer, anyway?
I know that Movember has raised millions for Prostate Cancer and that's great, but a huge opportunity for raising real awareness has been missed. But you know, the great dilemma of my argument is that an unsilly, relevant, informative campaign probably wouldn't get nearly as much participation from the public, coverage from the media or funds for the cause. The success of Movember doesn't surprise me.
It's a sad reflection of our culture if we need to grow moustaches to raise "awareness" and funds for such a prevalent, life-threatening illness.
What do YOU think of Movember? Have your say on the Beyond Passing Time Facebook Page.
Notes: November 1, 2012 - I wrote another post on Movember and awareness and added the line marked with *.
I wrote a similar post last year about the "I like it" Facebook status campaign to support breast cancer.