Bill Gates to Now Control Pop Culture, Push For "Healthy Living"

Blogger and film critic extraordinaire Alan Vanneman points to this New York Times story about the latest initiative from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:

The Gates Foundation is set to expand its involvement and spend more money on influencing popular culture through a deal with Viacom, the parent company of MTV and its sister networks VH1, Nickelodeon and BET. It could be called "message placement": the social or philanthropic corollary to product placement deals in which marketers pay to feature products in shows and movies. Instead of selling Coca-Cola or G.M. cars, they promote education and healthy living....

Among the initiative's successes have been plotlines on E.R. dealing with HIV and organ donation.

More here.

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  • SxCx||

    The privatization of social engineering?

  • anarch||

    The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently spent $2 million to expand Internet access in Latvian libraries, $90 million to help African cocoa and cashew farmers



    On a scale of 1-10, cocoa and cashews (not to mention watching MTV) are just how healthy?

  • ed||

    a deal with Viacom, the parent company of MTV

    Yeah, nothing says "healthy living" quite like the skanky freak-fests on MTV.

  • ||

    Cocoa and cashews are healthy, especially for the people who grow and sell them for subsistence or profit. And they're not really unhealthy in moderation for consumption either.

    I love that this foundation exists. Smart people made huge profits and use that to give back, all without government intervention. I'm sure they'll be shut down soon, ironically for not cowering to the government monopoly on "helping the needy." Enjoy it while it lasts.

  • JP||

    Good for them. It's their money; they can decide how to spend it (aside from criminal activity, of course).

  • anarch||

    "Coca-Cola or G.M. cars" are healthy for the people who grow and sell them for subsistence or profit.

  • Joel||

    Oh! Oh! I've got an idea for a great spot, Bill! You hold an egg over a hot skillet, see? And the VO says, "This is your brain..."

    (well, it's possible he hasn't already seen it.)

  • ||

    Yes, anarch, those are not inherently unhealthy either in the grand scheme of things. Don't know what your gripe is. If Viacom would rather air commercials for the Gates Foundation's causes rather than ads for Coke and GM, that's their perogative. Personally, I would air whichever ads paid me more for the time. Still doesn't mean cocoa or cashews are not healthy.

  • T||

    On a scale of 1-10, cocoa and cashews (not to mention watching MTV) are just how healthy?

    Dose determines toxicity. Given that you can kill yourself by drinking too much water, your question is almost, but not entirely, meaningless. I'm gonna give them a 10 if included as part of that healthy, balanced diet they always used to push on us in cereal ads.

  • ||

    As much as I agree with the messages they're trying to promote, I find this just a little bit insidious. Last night's ER featured a mini plot with parents allowing teens to drink at a party and one girl going into a coma with alcohol posioning and calling the cops on them was written as the proper response. D: Now I'm wondering if that was in fact a message trying to be pushed through and NOT just one character's response. I'm kind of glad the show is over, heh.
    On the other hand, ER has dealt with organ donation before and then it was in a much more heavy-handed way that in the Clooney episode. So it's not like this is anything different and actually may make TV programming ideas a little more varied, which is great. But using money to push your ideas = good stuff, do it. Not hiding it = also good stuff.

  • Jay||

    Good for Bill Gates! However, I will, as I have all my life, simply turn the channel when faced with a "preachy" TV show, as MASH sank to near the end.

  • PC||

    Yes, a guy who looks like he was repeatedly picked last for dodgeball is going to tell us how to be healthy.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    So, what would the government response be if some private individual paid to have a pro drug-legalization message woven into the plot?

  • ||

    At least Gates is just throwing it out there as advice, not banning trans fats or pot through use of force. Geez, all along we've been saying how advocay should come from the private sector and we can choose for ourselves what to listen to. Now everyone's criticizing that. Be happy he has no interest in being a politician. He's actually produced something.

  • ||

    I wanna see what kind of messages Mark Cuban pays to have jammed into TV shows.

  • ||

    So, wait. Is it bad because they're promoting health-related stuff? Or is it a positive example of markets in action?

    Would Nick approve if Gates wore a snazzy leather jacket?

  • SpongePaul||

    I do not have a problem with this, a private citizen and charity sending out a message, that is AMerica. we can listen or not, its our choice, but he has the freedom and the right to do whatever the F he wants with his cash.

  • Abdul||

    Last night on Rock of Love, I learned that if you mix vodka with reduced sugar cranberry juice, you can help prevent tooth decay while still being a drunken skank.

    Thanks Bill Gates!

  • Wicks Cherrycoke||

    And this is news? This has been going on for years. Have we forgotten the movies from the 1980s and 1990s where there were condom boxes on display in every sex scene? Have you noticed that virtually every judge you see in a television series or movie is either female or a minority, or both? And what about virtually every TV series Norman Lear produced?

  • Zeb||

    Some of the more blatant product placement is irritating enough. I can imagine "message placement" will be pretty awful.

  • Johnny Nowhere||

    They got something onto ER and that's considered a success?

    What will it be called when they do something with a show that people actually watch?

  • High Every Body||

    Why is this being presented as "new"? Every single episode of "Lou Grant" was a push for some Leftiod view of a healthy society or healthy living. Ed Asner does not seem to take the healthy living part too seriously, but whatever.

    Same with "All in the Family", "The Jeffersons", "My Three Sons", "Good Times", "Apple's Way", and plenty of others.

  • High Every Body||

    And what Wicks said too!

  • Dello||

    Bond: I'll have a diet Coke and a plate of tofu.

    Barkeep: Shaken, stirred, or jiggling?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    H.E.B.
    Are you suggesting the ACLU or ACORN paid to write Meathead's dialog?
    W.C. - I'll ask you the same - was Trojan paying for placement in 80s movies?
    Otherwise, I think you're missing the point.

    (I've got no problem with it, in any case.)

  • ||

    And this is news?

    It is, because all the previous "messaging" done in TV shows was at the behest of the "creative" talent. Hence, its preachy/lefty character, reflecting the prevailing culture of Hollywood creative types.

    This is new, because it doesn't originate from the producers/actors/writers. It originates from outside, and is paid for.

  • Andrew Carnegie||

    I love that this foundation exists. Smart people made huge profits and use that to give back, all without government intervention.

    Damn! Why didn't I think of that?

  • Ska||

    So, what would the government response be if some private individual paid to have a pro drug-legalization message woven into the plot?

    In an episode of Breaking Bad from the first season, Walt (main character - square chemist turned meth producer) has a discussion with his brother-in-law (a DEA agent) about how arbitrary drug laws are over a couple of Cuban cigars (provided by the DEA agent, of course). They also covered alcohol going from legal to illegal and back to legal, again arbitrarily through legislation. Their conversation wasn't pro-drug (nor was it "drugs are bad....mmmkay") as much as it was a frank statement of how the powers that be have decided which vices we can/can't participate in legally.

    If NORML had the money to, I think they could get a pro-pot message into a TV show. Just not on one of the networks.

  • ||

    Good for them. It's their money; they can decide how to spend it (aside from criminal activity, of course).

    I agree...

    This is the way it should be....private entities paying money to try and social engineer is much better than wasting tax dollars on such things.

    It's no different to me then seeing the ads ("Family -- isn't it about time") the mormons. Every time I see those ads I smile and think-- how nice -- they are putting their money where their mouth is and at least in this instant aren't trying to use public dollars to push their POV.

  • Ska||

    because it doesn't originate from the producers/actors/writers

    Good point - a valid distinction.

  • jk||

    It Gate's money and he could can do what he wants with it, but it is worth noting that he got the money from people who purchased his software. Just as courtesy to them, I would think he could invest a bit more of his fortune in writing a decent operating system.

  • ||

    raivo pommer-eesti-www.google.ee

    raimo1@hot.ee

    Regierungstreffen zu "Bad Bank" geplant



    Geschenk für die Banken? Finanzminister Steinbrück will im Kanzleramt Pläne vorlegen, wie man belasteten Instituten helfen kann

    Die Bundesregierung wird nächste Woche darüber beraten, wie man Banken von problembehafteten Papieren befreien kann, ohne den Staatshaushalt allzu sehr zu belasten. Nach Informationen der F.A.Z. werden sich dazu Kanzleramtsminister Thomas de Maizière (CDU), Finanzminister Peer Steinbrück (SPD) und Wirtschaftsminister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU) mit dem Bundesbankpräsidenten Axel Weber und dem Chef des Bankenrettungsfonds Soffin, Hannes Rehm, treffen.

    Die Bundesregierung wehrt sich dagegen, eine zentrale Stelle ("Bad Bank") einzurichten, die den Finanzinstituten risikoreiche Papiere auf Kosten der Steuerzahler abnimmt. Noch immer haben die Banken Risiken in ihren Bilanzen, die ihre Fähigkeit und Bereitschaft dämpfen, neue Kredite zu vergeben. Steinbrück warnte mehrfach, dass eine zu großzügige Lösung den Bund mit bis zu 200 Milliarden Euro belasten kann. Er wird seine Pläne der Runde im Kanzleramt vorlegen.

  • ||

    Hmm. Is it even possible to write a haiku in German?

  • libtdem||

    Yes, RC, but just one.

  • Kolohe||

    If NORML had the money to, I think they could get a pro-pot message into a TV show. Just not on one of the networks.

    Is Comedy Central technically a network?

  • High Every Body||

    Are you suggesting the ACLU or ACORN paid to write Meathead's dialog?

    No, Lenin got it done free, even from the grave.

  • Louis B. Meyer||

    If you want to send a message use Western Union.

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