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To serve Dr. Lung Love

Dr. Lunglove 
November 2, 2009 -- Today the national advocacy group Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) launched a high-profile media campaign to increase awareness of how dangerous lung cancer is for women. The campaign is built on a rap video called "Waitin' Room Service" that features "Dr. Lung Love," who manages to work several important ideas about lung cancer into the song, including the importance of screenings and increased research funding. The LCA video is a shot-by-shot, line-by-line parody of Pitbull's recent video for "Hotel Room Service," which featured the rapper and hot, half-dressed women. Sadly, the LCA parody substitutes "nurses" who, though fully clothed in scrubs, offer sexual attention to the Lung Love character, caressing him and dancing suggestively with him. And in one lyric, he informs us that the "nurse just left," so he'll "love your lungs tonight." Ewww. Anyway, it seems that swaggering, masterful physicians handle important health matters, while cute nurse helpmates provide, well, waitin' room service. With more inspired writing and direction, a great video could have been made to advance awareness without reinforcing the naughty nurse stereotype that has plagued real nurses for decades. The LCA video is a special insult to the oncology nurses who actually provide much of the care for cancer patients--what Lung Love so eloquently calls the "somethin'" that "can be done" if the cancer is not too far advanced (or even if it is). The Lung Cancer Alliance site makes clear that the video was not something some low level employee stumbled into. It is being promoted by the group's leadership as the central part of a major national publicity effort during Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Of course this is not the first PSA to degrade nurses (see Jon Corzine's seat belt ad and Saw III's blood donation ad), but the fact that a major DC health care charity would employ the naughty nurse image in a campaign of this magnitude surprises even us. The nurses who fight cancer deserve better than this video's tainted Lung Love, which undermines real nurses' claims to adequate resources and respect. So please give LCA some love...of nurses. Join our campaign to end the video's needless use of naughty nurse imagery!

Success! Please read below for information on our full campaign or go straight to our success page.

Here's "Waitin' Room Service" in all its glory.

And here are the complete lyrics:

Hey DJ!
I want everybody to stop what they're doing.
Now do you know that lung cancer is the #1 killer of women
You gonna take your momma and your grandmomma to Dr. Lung Love
Make some noise

Meet me in the waiting room (repeat 3 times)

If you have been wheezing then
Meet me in the waiting room
Bring your dyspnea and
Meet me in the waiting room
If you're coughin up blood then
Meet me in the waiting room
Bring your hemoptysis and
Meet me in the waiting room

We at the ER, OR, checkin you in (repeat 3 times)

Havin trouble with that breathing stuff
Two breaths in and one gasp out
maybe that cancer stuff
you raspy
so let's find your stage
and if it's T1
somethin can be done

Bring your lungs to examination night
The nurse just left
I'll love your lungs tonight
I'll check your lobes
You the unhealthy type
Here goes the cell whites

Now gimme that fee
that plastic co-pay stuff
Lemme tell you what we gonna do
2 + 2 gonna diagnose you
Then we go 3 + 3 take a biopsy
Then we go 4+4 Let's call Park LiShore (?)

But first
We gonna get your lungs checked so
Meet me in the waiting room
You don't want no cancer
so meet me in the waiting room
lung cancer's a killer
so meet me in the waiting room
you say you're not a smoker
lung cancer can still get you

You got that PPO, HMO, come on in (repeat 3 times)

We at that river party in the doctor lobby
Ooo, aaah, oooh, aaah, damn
now gimme that cash that money that research stuff
Lemme tell you what we gonna do
2 + 2 where to donate to
then they go 3 and 3 non-profit in D.C.
they we go 4 and 4 log on
Let's go!

Forget about that bike gang
join up with the LCA
You can fund lung research
Just contact the LCA
Forget about making it rain
Donate to the LCA
We can fight lung cancer
Just contact the LCA

We at the hospital, mospital, checking you in (repeat 3 times)

The mospital? Anyway, there are a few good elements here: telling viewers that lung cancer is the leading killer of women (actually that's wrong, since heart disease is, but lung cancer is a leading killer of women who have cancer); encouraging women to get checked out if they have symptoms; noting what some of those symptoms are; noting that even non-smokers can get lung cancer; and encouraging viewers to push for more research funding and to contact LCA for more information. In two brief images, a "nurse" actually seems to be giving a patient an injection and taking her vital signs! Of course, the video also wastes a lot of time throwing out incoherent party talk and gratuitous technical terms that really do nothing to advance the PSA's agenda. The PSA doesn't seem to know quite what to do with some elements in the Pitbull original, which was a more coherent, singled-minded vision of the rapper having sex with several women in hotels. But still, the video might have been an okay public service tool.

However, it's full of attractive "nurse" characters who present themselves to the commanding Dr. Armando Lung Love with sexual intent, moving to seduce the physician and the viewer. The "nurses" gaze lustfully at Lung Love, and they dance against him and caress him. They may not share Lung Love's health or policy expertise, but they sure can writhe around on a bed with a bunch of tongue depressors (safety first!). The video also includes other elements that seem questionable, including Lung Love's apparently sexual relationship with one female patient (or at least with her lungs), and his clipboard detailing the stages of cancer, in which T1 is listed as "Early/treatable," but T3 is "Uh-oh" and T4 is "See ya." We hope LCA has pamphlets for stage 4 patients that explain the "see ya" thing in a little more detail. And as for the sex with patients, that's a left-over from the Pitbull video, in which the rapper was after all the women who appeared. Presumably the LCA crew thought the suggestion of sex with patients was a small price to pay in order to continue drawing images directly from the original video. Unfortunately, that original is actually more inventive and amusing than the parody.

Notice:  We get that the LCA video is a "joke" (really we do), that we are not looking at real physicians or nurses, and that to some extent the video is poking fun at the rap conventions it employs, or at least having fun with how it can adapt a group-sex-in-a-hotel scenario to a get-checked-for-cancer one. But that will not stop viewers from internalizing the assumptions that play into powerful stereotypes they already have: that female nurses really are the submissive sexual playthings of male physicians. The video might exaggerate it a bit in the interest of enjoying that "party in the doctor lobby," and trying to reach young males with a rap parody they will recognize. But the LCA video is obviously not questioning any of the damaging conventions related to the roles of nurses and physicians that it falls into so easily in following Pitbull's lead. And even fantasy and humor have a powerful effect on what people think, as studies have repeatedly shown. In fact, if that kind of media did not affect people, LCA would never have made this video in order to increase awareness and spur action.

Consider that the LCA "nurses" are not dressed in "naughty nurse" attire. That suggests that those responsible realized at some level that if they went all the way to a standard video presentation of female sexuality--with the women frolicking in skimpy lingerie, as in the Pitbull original--it might be a problem for a respected DC non-profit. So it seems like they probably thought about the level of sexuality the "nurses" would project. But it still never dawned on them that presenting the "nurses" as a group of sexual subordinates of the physician character would be a problem, as long as they kept those scrubs on?

Of course, PSAs that degrade nurses are nothing new. Every year, those behind the annual Saw film series promote the blood drives they sponsor in connection with their annual Halloween releases with scary naughty nurse imagery (or as we call it, naughty-axe imagery, since it seems to include elements of the battleaxe stereotype as well). And in 2007, the U.S. Department of Transportation actually created a PSA with New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine urging viewers to wear set belts, citing his own serious injuries in a car crash, after which only "a remarkable team of doctors and a series of miracles" could save him. In both of those cases, as here, the disrespect was notable partly because nurses play such a central role in relevant care: in the ICU care that saved Corzine and in collecting and using the blood collected in blood drives. But at least those past PSAs were not the work of a major health care charity like LCA.

It doesn't have to be that way, and in fact, rap itself can be a vehicle to advance understanding not only of public health, but of nursing itself. There are countless ways the LCA people could have gone, parodying this video or others, without reinforcing harmful nurse stereotypes. But that would have taken a little more creativity than simply plugging in hot "nurses" to replace Pitbull's harem. In 2004, ED nurse and rapper Craig Barton of the University of Alabama created a clever, funny, and informative video about the work of ED nurses. Barton did not have anything like the resources those behind "Waitin' Room Service" do, but it's not hard to see the talent and inspiration in his work. Maybe LCA should have given him a call.

Dr. Lung LovePlease tell LCA to modify or discontinue their "Waitin' Room Service" PSA so that it no longer degrades the nurses who are in the midst of a global crisis driven in part by damaging stereotypes like the naughty nurse. In other words:

            Just contact the LCA! (repeat 3 times)


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