Monday, September 22, 2008

Condom-Condom, Hello-Hello?

OK, so a little while ago I had mentioned that that some folks over there in India (the country) had decided that the best way to get the message out that "safe sex is the way to go" would be to create a downloadable ring tone that sang out "Condom, condom." I think the concept is as ridiculous now as I thought it was then. But that was "then". "Then" was also when I could not imagine that people would want their cell phone shouting out "Condom, condom!" (People don't really even want other people to shout out "Condom, condom!" Whether sex is imminent or not.) But apparently, I was wrong and 270,000 (yes, that's thousand) people have so far downloaded the prophylactic jingle that will save the world from unprotected sex. Or not.

The ring tone goes by the name "Condom a Capella". Basically, it just repeats the word "condom" over and over again in different melodies. And while there were 270,000 downloads, there were also over two million hits on the website . So only a little more than 10% of the people that wanted to hear the ring tone actually wanted to hear it shouted at them from their phone on random occasions. It's a fair guess that a lot of those 270,000 have never had sex (but have had the opportunity to download a lot of stuff) and are hoping that this ringtone advertises that they're willing to do so and will do so all protected and with catchy ring tones in the background. The tricky part is going to be finding people who will actually want to call them.

270,000 people?! Now, I can compare that to some of the other numbers involved here to make it seem rather small. There are over 250 million people in India who use a cell phone. That's only .0011 percent of the cell phone users who decided this was a good idea and they should download it immediately. And while that is a seemingly small percentage, let's just remember for a second that they're downloading a ringtone for their cell phone that sings out "Condom, condom!" whenever it rings. ON purpose! Take that into consideration and .0011 percent starts seeming a bit high. And so do those who are downloading it.

According to a one Yvonne MacPherson, the County Director for the BBC World Service Trust in India, "Never before has a mobile ring-tone been used to communicate a social or public health message. We wanted to create a conversation piece that would get people talking and ultimately break down the taboo about condoms. We want condoms to be seen as any other health product."

Well, she's right about a ringtone never having been used to communicate a social or a health message. Unless you consider people in a social situation wanting the person whose cell phone is ringing to shut up. That is a frequent communication in a social situation. (And if you actually take the cell phone from the offender and bonk them over the head with it, voila! A communication in a health situation! One that will likely result in a communication in a penal situation. My, but the cell phone ring tone is quite a versatile communication tool, is it not?) I'm not quite sure what she means by the "taboo about condoms". What would the condom taboo be in India? I can't imagine it's any different than the taboo (that masquerades as whining) about condoms in the US. You know, the whole "They're too small" (Yeah, right!), "I can't feel anything!" (Again, yeah, right!) "There wasn't time!" (Usually said after he's done. Thirty seconds later. If that.) But I still don't see how having your cell phone sing about the condom is going to help any taboo, regardless as to what it is.

And really, while it's a novel ideal and will appeal to...well...some, apparently, I don't see it doing any good except for filling up space in witty blogs across the Internet. That's because "only about half of the at-risk population, including sex workers and men who have sex with men have access to HIV prevention measures." That according to the latest fact sheet from UNAIDS about India, a group that, based simply on their name, would seem to know a lot about stuff like this. So, if they don't even have access to HIV prevention measures, ie, condoms, what good is a "Condom, condom" ringtone going to do? Not a lot, from what I can tell. But hey, are they saying that those people have access to cell phones but not to condoms? Well, that seems a little backwards. So you can use your cell phone to call up your potential booty call, but even if you do manage to get them in the sack, you've got nothing to wrap that rascal in! Seems like this one should have been a little more thought out.

But I probably shouldn't judge (and yet I do. Frequently.). I wouldn't have thought that India would have 270,000 softheads that would want this thing blaring from their phone. I'd be interested to know if it was mostly guys or mostly girls who downloaded it. I'm guessing more guys downloaded it, but guys will do just about anything when it comes to drawing attention to the fact that they have a penis. Actually, I'd really like to sit down and have a little chat with any girl that would download this. You know, just to see what was bouncing around inside their little empty skull there. I can't imagine why a girl would want her purse to randomly burst out in a couple stanzas of "Condom, Condom!"

So the way I see it, this is either going to mean one of two things. It will either mean that people will become more aware and start using condoms more frequently (presumedly when they're having sex, not like when they're mowing the lawn or something unrelated to fornication) or they will just run the other direction whenever they hear the "Condom! Condom!" call of the wild go off. Either way, there's going to be more protected sex or just less sex overall and since both of those things would seem to be the ultimate goal of this wacky idea, I guess, by God, it freaking worked. So way to go, funny looking, prophylactic ringtone dudes. Way to go.

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