Rhetoric Analysis of "Ads with Women" in Montana Meth Project Campaign
So Man Summe Chan
May 18, 2018
Rhetoric Analysis of "Ads with Women" in Montana Meth Project Campaign
Substance abuse claims more than 50,000 Americans annually (Moos, 2017). Opioid abuse is now the leading cause of overdose deaths in the U.S., driving up the death rate of drug overdose. Despite the widespread campaigns to reduce substance abuse, in most parts of the United States as well as the globe the problem is growing. For instance, in the United States, the number of deaths resulting from substance abuse caused more deaths than car accidents making substance abuse the leading cause of unintentional death in 2008. Drug overdoses caused about 56,000 deaths of Americans in 2015 of which over nearly half of these deaths were caused by synthetic opioids or heroin. Opioids are categorized among the readily available drugs in the United States with extremely addictive effects. As the United States struggles with substance abuse and its effects, some of its parts such as Montana are experiencing a more severe situation. Montana is primarily struggling to contain widespread use and consumption of methamphetamine which has attracted the attention of health officials, law enforcers and the community at large (Anderson, 2010). This problem has affected both the authorities, families, and hospitals. For instance, the courts have been overwhelmed by increasing caseloads of drug cases while family services have been strained by drug-related cases that are increasingly tearing families into parts. Currently, clinics are struggling to cope up with the increasing population of citizens who are addicts of meth seeking medication. These effects caused by increasing use of methamphetamine in Montana have forced volunteers to chip in and offer free services as well as techniques geared towards controlling and reducing substance abuse. One good example of a volunteer concerned by the situation of methamphetamine in Montana is Tom Siebel who is the founder of Montana Meth Project. The purpose of the project is to engage in prevention campaigns using one strategy, employing ads created with inputs from teenagers to show the spread of meth in Montana as well as effects of using meth among the youths. The destructive effects of meth to the users and to the community at large are depicted using graphic details in the ads and advertised via different forms of media such as radio, billboards and social media (Erceg-Hurn, 2008).
Meth abuse has long been a major social health concern in the U.S. and Montana in particular. This problem was identified prominently in the late 1990s and early 2000s when it Montana passed emergency legislation to control methamphetamine abuse through targeted police intervention and retail sales regulation of products such as Sudafed. Consequently, methamphetamine abuse among the teens decreased by 45 percent (Anderson & Elsea, 2015). On top of that, crimes related to methamphetamine abuse dropped by 62 percent between 2004 and 2007 (Anderson & Elsea, 2015). However, the past few years, methamphetamine abuse has been on the rise again. The statistics show that methamphetamine abuse is increasing causing problems such as criminal activities, over expenditure by the authorities, economic productivity, and degradation of educational as well as social life. According to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, three out of four people in Montana are methamphetamine users (Anderson, & Elsea, 2015). On top of that, out of the reported drug cases, 80 percent involved methamphetamine abuse. The men are the most affected with statistics showing that 7.7 percent of the males are meth users. The most affected group is the youths aged between 18 years and 25 years. In this group, it is estimated that about 23 percent of them use meth. There were about 122 clandestine meth labs in 2002 but the number declined slowly from six then seven in 2007 and 2008 respectively. These labs contributed greatly to the increased cost the state of incurring.
While overdoses and major health problems are among the greatest concerns of meth use in Montana and the greater U.S., there are a number of social problems associated with meth use as well. Meth is a major contributor to property and violent crime. Research suggests that using meth significantly increases the likelihood that an individual will engage in both property and violent crimes from both gang and non-gang activities (Moos, 2017). Users of meth are particularly likely to steal from friends and families in order to fund the drug habit. Such theft is also associated with the use of violence (Moos, 2017). Another major concern associated with meth abuse is Montana is that it contributes to the destruction of families. For instance, the Montana Department of Health and Human Services reported that the number of children in foster care as a result of parental substance abuse doubled between 2010 and 2016. Of these cases, 60 percent were related to methamphetamine (Anderson, & Elsea, 2015). Despite the fact that the statistics do not show much data regarding the number of women who are directly or indirectly affected by methamphetamine, they are also major victims of methamphetamine abuse. For instance, statistics showing that the number of children in foster care doubles in the past few years shows that women who are mostly considered to the primary caregivers of the family are heavily affected methamphetamine use in Montana.
The Meth Project is an organization that has several branches across several states. The intention behind this project is to combat the meth epidemic facing several major communities, including the state of Montana. The Montana Meth Project is a non-profit organization that is based in Montana. It was founded by Thomas Siebel who is a businessman specializing in software development. Being a partial resident of Montana, Thomas Siebel learned about the devastating effects of meth a move which forced him to dedicate some of his money towards the fight of methamphetamine (Marsh, Copes, & Linnemann, 2017). Siebel combined his marketing experience and financial resources to establish Montana Meth Project. The purpose of the project is to reduce the use of methamphetamine more so in the youths. Its main strategy is the “saturation-level advertising” campaigns of radio, television, internet and print ads that graphically portray the negative impacts of using methamphetamine. Among elements addressed in the ads include regret, moral compromise, amphetamine psychosis and the health as well as living conditions of the teenagers (Marsh, Copes, & Linnemann, 2017). Taking into consideration that the purpose here is to explore ads with women, Montana Meth Project uses video ads as part of its advertising campaign to sensitize teenagers against the use of drugs. Is gender stereotyping in ads featuring women in Montana's Meth Project campaign diminishing the effectiveness of such ads?
There are many different approaches to solving the meth epidemic in Montana. Among the most common approaches include prison reform, increasing the police presence, and targeted advertisement campaigns. Often, proposed solutions feature some combination of these approaches. Each approach is intended to produce a different intended outcome. For example, increasing police presence is intended to combat the current abuse of meth. Similarly, prison reform, especially reform aimed at rehabilitation, is intended to decrease recidivism of meth abuse. Finally, advertisement campaigns have more holistic purposes. In other words, advertising campaigns tend to have multiple functions, but are generally aimed at reducing the level of drug use. Their multifarious functions make them quite effective when properly targeted (Revier, 2017). In fact, ad campaigns aimed at demonstrating the problems associated with any illicit drug use, including meth use, can both lead users to stop using meth and convince family members to intervene to prevent continued meth use (Revier, 2017).
The use of advertising as part of a broad campaign to combat meth use either nationally or within a single state has attracted major attention from various groups from marketers and managers to scholars and clinicians. Moreover, the role of women in advertising has as well attracted much attention leading to a wide range of research to an extent that it was identified the use of women is a tool of design in things such as clipart. From their content analysis meant to uncover potential gender stereotyping, the study identified substantial representational biases in the two packages. It further identified that there was under-representation of women who were also portrayed differently than males. Despite the fact that the study focused on print ads with women, it did not solely focus on how stereotyping is demonstrated in the context of substance abuse.
A broad array of research has shown that in most television and print advertisements there is a tendency of portraying women as having a narrow range of roles. An example of such study is the Haynes, & Kingsley, (1988) which identified that most adverts portray women as only having three main occupations more so the traditional ones such as a mother, housewife, and a secretary. Courtney and Lockeretz (1971) identified different aspects as far as stereotyping in ads is concerned. In their research, they identified four distinct traits used to describe women in ads. They include portraying women as people who cannot make decisions, portraying women as people who only belong at home and showing that women are dependent and in need of men. Lastly, the study identified that the adverts portray women primarily as sexual objects. Despite the fact that this information is insightful in this context, it is still insufficient in the sense that it was not focused in the context of substance abuse.
In one study, Hall and Crums (1994) sought to identify how male and females are presented in ads used in beer commercials. From their study, they identified that men do occur most. However, the images of the two genders greatly differ. For instance, as opposed to men who appear well dressed mostly in official attire, when females appear in such adverts they normally have a great body exposure. Based on their study, in beer commercials, women are portrayed through shots of the leg, chest, crotch, and buttock an aspect which portrays them as sex objects. Graig (1992) conducted a study that explored women stereotyping in ads related to over-the-counter (OTC) medications. The study identified that in this context women are stereotypes as caregivers and nurturers. Graig further identified that women are portrayed as experts on TC medicines, unlike men who constantly seek advice regarding OTC medicines (Graig, 1992).
Previous research has shown significant evidence that women stereotyping does exist in advertising where the ads contain women. While some ads contain body parts such as buttocks aimed at portraying women as sex objects some have photos that portray them as housewives. From the researchers identified, the one thing that is common among them is the fact that the associated adverts were aimed towards promoting a particular product before being subjected to analysis. When doing marketing it likely that the target subject will be made to feel valued and in authority an aspect which increases the chances of formulating ads aimed towards making men feel valued and in authority hence influencing sales of the products. Contrarily, the adverts in the Montana Meth Project have a different purpose. To reduce the use of methamphetamine among the teenagers by using “saturation-level advertising” campaigns of radio, television, internet and ads that graphically portray the negative impacts of using methamphetamine (Erceg-Hurn, 2008). In such a context, there are likely to be stereotypes but which don't diminish a women's value but aimed at showing that women are more likely to be affected by drug consumption especially the use of methamphetamine. This is aimed at ensuring that women take a leading role in disapproving substance abuse. On top of that, when showing the positive impacts of refraining from substance use, it is expected that the ads will portray a woman as moving past her “normal role” as depicted by pre-existing stereotypes (Marsh, Copes, & Linnemann, 2017). Thus, it is important to explore this claim since it makes it necessary to establish when to use stereotypes to discourage a behavior or to encourage a behavior.
In adverts aimed at encouraging the society to refrain from engaging in an activity that is negatively affecting the women as well as the society at large such as the increased use of meth in Montana, women stereotyping still exists. Differing to other adverts, in this context, the stereotypes are aimed at either encouraging women to stop engaging in substance abuse or to scare them from starting taking drugs such as meth. This is in line with what is done by Montana Meth Project which relies solely on adverts to sensitize the youths against engaging in abuse of meth (Erceg-Hurn, 2008). The ads are meant to graphically portray the negative impacts of using methamphetamine. Thus, the stereotypes that diminish the value of a woman will be associated with the use of methamphetamine (Marsh, Copes, & Linnemann, 2017). The ads that feature women in Montana's Meth Project campaign reinforce gender stereotypes by portraying women as vulnerable and men as dominant even in the context of meth abuse.
The personal nature of the ads in Montana's Meth Project mean that each small ad or excerpt from a larger ad are focused on a particular person, generally a meth user or someone who has been in frequent contact with meth users. The nature of the ads, then, allow for deep developments of the stories of those presented in the ads. Given this, there is ample opportunity for a qualitative thematic analysis to be conducted that will help determine the content in the ads and how women and men are portrayed in the ads. Two specific ads are analyzed as the artifacts in the current analysis. The first is a series of short ads that comprised the project's #askme campaign. Such ads feature very brief clips of former meth users and their experiences with the drug. Four women and two men are featured in these clips. Each person has four short clips with each clip having a specific theme that is shown in text on the screen as the person describes his or her experiences. By compiling and comparing these themes as well as the stated experiences of the individuals, a comparison can be drawn about the themes used in the ads between the genders. The second artifact is a documentary created by the Montana Meth Project. The documentary goes into detail about the current meth problem in the state and how it is being targeted by media campaigns and police enforcement. This documentary will be analyzed as a whole in order to determine how the different genders are portrayed.
This method is intended to help answer the question is gender stereotyping in ads featuring women in Montana's Meth Project campaign diminishing the effectiveness of such ads? Based on this method, the following claim will be assessed: the ads that feature women in Montana's Meth Project campaign reinforce gender stereotypes by portraying women as vulnerable and men as dominant even in the context of meth abuse. By analyzing both types of artifacts, a broader and more detailed understanding of whether and how gender stereotypes are being reinforced in the ads of Montana's Meth Project.
Lindsay's Story Themes
Lindsay's first story focuses on the theme of meth stealing her dreams. Meth was making her angry and edgy, as she states in the ad. In this way, meth transformed her personality, making her into an evil person. Her second story focuses on the idea of Lindsay becoming “God's Joke,” in that Lindsay prayed to God about feeling alone immediately before being arrested. Lindsay interpreted this experience as being a joke by God, in a sense, because she was no longer alone in prison. The theme of Lindsay's third ad is what she left behind and had lost because of her meth use. She lost her job, her house, and her family because of her meth use. Lindsay's fourth story focuses on her regrets. Most prominently, Lindsay regrets not speaking to her mother in the months leading up to her death. Her meth use contributed to Lindsay stealing from her mother, leading to them not speaking in the months leading up to her death. The four themes in Lindsay's stories are the following:
• Stolen dreams
• God's joke
• What she lost
• What she regrets
Anastasia's Story Themes
Anastasia's first story focuses on how love hurts. She discusses her emotional swings and uncontrollable anger. She describes trying to run over her son's father with a vehicle. Despite Anastasia describing how meth took control of her emotions, the title and only text of the ad reads “how love hurts,” suggesting a strong connection between meth and her child's father. Anastasia's third theme is being unable to stop using meth. She describes being able to stop using alcohol and a number of other drugs, but meth was different. Meth created a strong addiction in Anastasia and never let go, as the ad describes. Anastasia's third theme is about how the gun went off. This refers to Anastasia's story of how her son died. Anastasia's son's father was trying to commit suicide with a firearm. She tried to grab the gun away from him. The gun was fired accidentally, striking and killing her 12-year-old son. Her husband was also a meth user. Anastasia's fourth theme is getting lucky. In the fourth clip, Anastasia describes being lucky in that she was not killed and does not have to spend the rest of her life in prison. Anastasia's themes are the following:
• How love hurts
• Unable to stop using meth
• How the gun went off
• Getting lucky
Beth's Story Themes
Beth's first story is about her new hobby, referring to the first time she used meth. Beth was fifteen years-old when she first started using meth. She describes becoming violent, narcissistic, pugilistic, and non-empathetic. She talks about frequently committing crimes while on meth and stealing loved ones in order to support her meth habit. Beth's second story focuses on her own silence while her husband continued using meth, ultimately leading to the death of their son. Her husband's meth use continued until he died from overdose. Beth picked up meth again after the death of her child and husband. The silence refers to her own inaction when her husband was using meth and she was not. Her silence, in some ways, may have contributed to the death of her son and her continued abuse at the hands of her husband. The third theme is her prom date. Beth did not participate in high school. Many of her day-to-day activities are difficult because she did not develop the appropriate skills to be a well-functioning member of society. Beth's fourth theme is being bulletproof. Meth made Beth feel invulnerable. She broke her back while using meth and never fully recovered because she often could not feel the pain in her back because of the meth. Beth's themes are the following:
• Her new hobby
• About the silence
• My prom date
• Being bulletproof
Lance's Story Themes
Lance's first theme is the person who he used to be. Lance describes meth taking away the person he would become. He describes being unable to do anything about his meth use. He also discusses how he choked his sister out in her sleep in order to steal her cache of meth. Lance's second theme is the chase. Lance says he loves meth. He describes preferring to chase the high of meth instead of chasing girls romantically. He mentions his addiction as being permanent and forever. Lance's third theme is how he got sucked into meth. He describes having nothing else to do. He appears bored. He says all there is to do is drink and do drugs. The fourth theme in the Lance series of videos is his new dealer. Lance had a friend who went to college on a basketball scholarship. Lance introduced him to meth and he has since dropped out of college and started selling meth. Lance blames himself and demonstrably feels remorse for this. Lance taught him how to sell meth as well. Lance's themes are the following:
• Who I used to be
• The chase
• How I got sucked in
• My new dealer
Anaa's Story Themes
Anna's story begins with a description of attending her father's funeral literally in shackles, as she had been in prison at the time of his death. Anna reveals that it still bothers her today. The second theme for Anna is living for the high. This demonstrates the singular focus that Anna had on finding her next high. She states that she had only two focuses at this time: getting high off of meth and her boyfriend who also used meth. Anna's third theme is her new best friend. The term is used ironically here, as Anna ended up with no real friends. Thus, meth became her figurative best friend. All of her friends left her and her family abandoned her because she had stolen from them. In isolation and loneliness, Anne turned to meth to ease the pain temporarily. Anna's final theme is where meth ends. Anne describes being kidnapped and help with a gun to her head because of her involvement in using and selling meth. She, then, implores the viewer not to ever use meth. Anne's themes are the following:
• Attending my father's funeral in shackles
• Living for the high
• Anne's new best friend
• Where meth ends
Craig's Store Themes
Craig's story begins with describing himself as a virtual refugee. Craig knows that he cannot go back home to his family and friends. If he goes back home, he knows he will begin using meth again. Therefore, Craig has made the decision to stay away from his hometown, though it means giving up all of the relationships he has formed. In this way, Craig views himself as a refugee with no real home to go to. Craig describes his addiction to meth as a mindless devotion. He reflects on his life like a movie about drugs. He then describes the meth dens, in which groups of people live in filth and disease in order to be close to the high. This theme, that of mindless devotion, can be connected with Craig's first theme. The mindless devotion that meth users have to the drug leads to them becoming refugees, huddled in small rooms waiting for the next chance to consume meth. Craig's third theme is how his hallucinations became his reality. Craig hallucinated so badly that he thought he lived with ghosts for some time and that he was covered in bugs. He was so afraid during this time that he almost committed suicide. Craig's final theme involves his family trying to help him over and over, but ultimately giving up on him when he failed to stay clean. Craig's violence become intolerable to his family. Craig's descriptions of his relationships with his family revolve around Craig hurting his family both economically and physically in order to feed his addiction. Craig's themes are as follows:
• Meth made me a refugee
• Mindless devotion
• Hallucinations becoming reality
• My family threw me away
Gender Stereotypes in the TV ads
In these brief tv ads, there are three strong cases for women being portrayed stereotypically. The first and strongest case is Beth's story in which she describes how meth contributed to the death of her husband and son and led to her committing crimes frequently as an adult. Beth's story, here, is centered on her own suffering. Yet, the chosen theme for the video is Beth's silence. “About my silence” is featured in text at the beginning of the clip. Beth's silence plays a relatively small part in this clip. In fact, Beth's story is not much at all about her being silent and much more about how meth destroyed her life, including contributing to the death of her loved ones. The deliberate focus on Beth's silence may reflect gender stereotyping. After all, there were a number of other factors to concentrate on that could be used to effectively demonstrate the dangers and risks of using meth. In many ways, the focus on Beth's silence instead of the suffering that she endured shifted the focus to her husband's role in her life. However, Beth had plenty to tell on how meth could ruin an entire family.
The second case is Anna's theme of being in shackles at her father's funeral. The metaphor of shackles is used to demonstrate the power of meth over Anna. While Anna was actually in shackles during the funeral, the shackles primarily serve as a metaphor for the control that meth had over her at every turn. Juxtaposing this theme with the themes of Lance demonstrate potential gender stereotypes. Lance's themes involve chasing meth over women and being responsible for causing his friend to begin using and selling meth. Anna seems much less in control in her themes. Yet, the actual accounts of the two would suggest that Anna was able to get control over her life, while Lance has become fatalistic about using meth. Why would Lance's themes, then, reflect power and control, while Anna's reflect being stuck in shackles with no control? The answer could simply be gender stereotypes, as men tend to be reflected in media as having control over women. On the other hand, it may simply be that the producers were intending to maximize shock value by demonstrating the varied effects of meth on users. Even so, because the themes chosen by the creators do not match the stories they tell that well, there is worry that gender stereotyping was a factor.
The third case also involves Beth. In her short video ad, Beth describes her use of meth as a child leaving her undeveloped. She lacks many of the skills necessary to function well in society. While she states that she has never been on a date, she also lists many other problems that she faces in daily life because of her underdevelopment caused by her early meth use. However, the theme of the video as it is presented in text at the beginning of the video is “my prom date.” The emphasis, then, is not on Beth not being able to find a job or losing her family. The focus on her never having a prom date provides strong evidence for gender stereotyping. After all, there were no mention of dates in the videos of the men. In fact, Lance was said to have given up chasing women in favor of meth. This is likely the strongest case of gender stereotyping in this video series.
The documentary created by the Montana Meth Project is called “Montana Meth Documentary” and depicts the lives of several meth users and law officers who are involved with stopping the meth epidemic in Montana. The documentary shows the actual use of meth by users. The filmmakers follow the meth users for several days. The production team had to wade through dozens of hours of footage to put together the one-hour documentary. Therefore, the shots used in the film were carefully chosen for effect. The document discusses the prominence of meth usage in Montana:
It's the kind of scene that comes to mind when you think "Montana." But there's another reality here and it's not pretty. Montana has a devastating problem with methamphetamine abuse. Just a couple of statistics: the illegal drug is behind 50% of the prison population here and about half the kids in foster care. Until recently, public officials didn't talk much about meth—which can be concocted in garages, basements, and kitchens—and few Montanans were even aware of the problem. Methamphetamine. Crank. Ice. Some even call it the devil's drug. It costs a lot less than cocaine. And as addictive as cocaine can be, meth is much worse. Its distribution has evolved from motorcycle gangs and makeshift home labs, to Mexican drug cartels that use the interstate highways to courier the drug into rural America. States like Montana have been dealing with the effects of meth for more than a decade. (Meth Project, 2011)
The documentary, then, goes into detail about the lives of the users. One of the users is named Rhianna. When she was discussed in the documentary, the focus was almost exclusively on how she was sexually abused while she and her boyfriend were on meth. According to her, he would sell her sexually for money to buy more meth. More than 90% of her airtime included discussions of how she was sexually assaulted and prostituted out while on meth. In contrast, Weasel's life is depicted as being highly messy. In other words, the focus when Weasel, a male, is on how messy is house is and the likelihood that he will go to jail soon.
This demonstrates a major distinction between the accounts of women and men in the documentary. Such distinctions may be based in part on the sexualization or objectification of women. Nonetheless, they reflect the reality that women may be particularly vulnerable to being abused in particular ways. That is, women do face unique threats in environments in which meth is prominent. From this perspective, what is being reflected in the film is not gender stereotypes. Rather, the actual risks are being demonstrated for to viewers to show them the real risks of entering into the meth culture for women. Another woman user in the film is Crystal. Much of Crystal's screen time is spent describing the many negative effects of meth on her life. Some of this time is spent discussing the negative effects related to sex. For example, she describes how young boys and men often are exposed sexually by a local meth dealer because he is the only dealer in the area and he is a pedophile. Again, this is a case of a woman in the film discussing sex, though this time it is not herself she is talking about. This may indicate a preference for showing conversations about sex among the women users featured in the program. Again, however, these are direct reflections of the dangers of getting into the meth culture. It is unlikely that this reflects direct gender stereotypes, but instead simply reflects the dangers faced by this population and other vulnerable populations.
A portion of the film is concentrated on showing how recent efforts have been made to combat the meth epidemic in Montana. The following is the transcription of a one-minute clip of the film. In this clip, a male prisoner speaks of his time behind bars, a woman authority for the project speaks about the project, and two Crow tribe members discuss the impact on the Crow tribe:
PRISONER: Even though I was locked up for three and half years I was still pretty deep into my addiction. We I first got my parole and I only lasted like a month of two on the streets and then I was locked back up. This is my chance. This is—this, right here and right now is the only—I have to give it my all, so that I can stay sober. I have to.
AUTHORITY: The meth project has spawned community outreach programs like this anti-meth trail ride on the crow Indian reservation.
CROW TRIBE ELDER: You are here to show them that meth is a bad thing.
TRIBE MEMBER: The people that lead our tribe and our nation are showing their support in this fight against meth and they are uniting with our youth.
AUTHORITY: The results of the campaign are substantial. 80 per cent of kids believe in their heart of hearts, that first time methamphetamines use causes brain damage. And even more importantly it's becoming very uncool to be around meth (Meth Project, 2011)
While the accounts of meth users strongly reflect major differences on the basis of gender, any time other people are shown, including Crow tribe members and authorities, there are no differences between the genders. The above excerpt is a representative sample of the documentary. Given this, the only gender-related themes to emerge in the documentary involved the unique risks posed to women meth users. No gender stereotype themes were found in the documentary.
Conclusions and Implications
The current assessment explored potential gender stereotypes in two sets of artifacts created by the Montana Meth Project. The assessment revealed different results between the two sets of artifacts. The video ads that display the personal accounts of meth users give some indication of gender stereotypes. There ads are intended to have major emotional impacts on viewers. That is, the creators relied heavily on pathos to appeal to viewers, imploring them to reject meth and help those dealing with addiction. However, the chosen themes for each ad reflect a trend towards a focus on relationships and dating for the women featured in the videos. This was not the case for the men users in the videos. Instead, the men were depicted as having major control, often over others who use or sell meth. This disparity in the chosen themes for the videos reflects a gender stereotype. In contrast, the Montana Meth Project documentary does not reflect such gender stereotypes. The gender disparities in the information presented in the documentary reflect only the unique risks and dangers faced by women in meth communities. Therefore, no gender stereotypes were found in the documentary.
The major implication of this study is that advertising campaigns that are aimed at demonstrating the dangers of meth and other illicit drugs should be developed in such a way that reflects a mindfulness about gender stereotypes. Such stereotypes and gender norms have shaped how we think about people, including in their use of drugs. Whoever chose the themes for the ads likely had good intentions and thought they were presenting the best case for individuals not to use meth. By appealing to women never having dates, the creators may have intended to appeal to women directly. However, they ended up reinforcing the gender stereotype that women are majorly concerned with being in relationships, while men are left “chasing women,” as Lance's themes suggested. The creators of the ads could have benefitted from the documentary's presentation because it was raw and focused. The documentary also relied on shocking, emotion-evoking anecdotes, but did not have to install gender-based themes into each segment. While the Montana Meth Project is likely created effective content, including both an effective documentary and series of personal ads, the team should be more aware of the risk of reinforcing gender stereotypes through its pathos-heavy ads.
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