Hi Dr. Nick | Issue 10

Hi Dr. Nick | Issue 10

Sexy spider men

Hi everybody,

Children are sexy. Now, while we wait for the police to read that statement and come knocking on my door, let’s talk about Spider Man.

I went and saw the newest Spider Man film yesterday. While by and large I found it quite a good film, something in the end bugged me. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen it because I won’t spoil any big twists by telling you that Snape kills Dumbledore, Bruce Willis was dead the whole time, and the characters on Lost were polar bears or something.

At the climax of the film, Spider Man and the villain de jour are duking it out in New York City. Already they’ve caused so much destruction that hundreds must have already died off screen when the car they were driving got used as an improvised weapon. As the dust settles, the baddie is poised to wreak further havoc on the city and things are looking pretty grim. Then the film cuts to a plane.

As it turns out, the evil dude’s evil plan intends this plane is about to crash and the crew have no way of knowing this. Throughout the next five minutes of Spidey’s fight we cut back-and-forth between the pilot commenting on how helplessly helpless they are, and the control tower helpfully counting down the time till those sweet innocent plane people crash.

And here’s my bugbear: we already know the bad guy is bad. We already know that Spidey needs to win or else people will die. We already know New York City is about to bite the curb, American History X style, but the filmmakers need to put a tragic, innocent human face to the badness. They need to put something there that says, “these helpless victims don’t deserve this – feel bad and act like we want you to act.”

And so we return to my first statement: children are sexy. Perhaps more appropriately – children appeal to people. Children are the “sweet innocent victims” of disease, the metaphorical plane on a collision course that Spider Man has to divert. Children make us feel bad and act on those feelings.

People innately care for sweet, innocent, little children which means that if you want to raise money for a cause, that cause better help children. If you want people to donate blood, your advertising better feature a child. If you want people to care about cancer, that cancer better be in an eight year-old, not an 80-year-old.

But stand on a street corner and try to collect money for the psychiatric ward? Put a billboard up with a lonely old lady and expect people to pay it a second glance? Tell people that drug addicts need healthcare funding that could be going to an “innocent victim?” Unthinkable.

There’s a lot of healthcare that we don’t care about, don’t like, or don’t fund because it’s not very appealing to us. If something isn’t cutting edge, sexy, or related to “innocent victims” like children then it isn’t worth our time. Our medical charities have a youth focus, our hospital dramas centre on surgery and emergency; our perception of healthcare is skewed towards the glamorous.

In reality, healthcare covers a lot more than the hospital and a hell of a lot more than a few select wards in that hospital. Next week I’m going to talk about one of the least sexy sides of young adult health in New Zealand: mental wellbeing and how we chip away at it on a daily basis. Right now, however, I’ve got to go answer my door – the police have just pulled up outside.
This article first appeared in Issue 10, 2014.
Posted 4:20pm Sunday 4th May 2014 by Dr. Nick.