chapter  16
16 Pages

Popular Media and Health: Images and Eff ects

ByKimberly N. Kline

Violet has just found out she’s pregnant; she wasn’t planning on this and she doesn’t know which of the two sexual partners she’s been with in the past few months is the father. Obviously, Violet hasn’t been using a condom. This is particularly surprising since this Harvard-educated psychiatrist works at a clinic that specializes in sexual health. Both of her sexual partners are doctors, one of whom has previously owned an infectious diseases practice (he’s recently had another sexual partner who is also a physician just returned to the US from Ghana). It seems like all of these individuals would be aware that, in addition to the possibility of unplanned pregnancy, each year in the United States alone around 19 million men and women of all economic levels are aff ected by sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs; http:// The good news is that Violet is a character in the highly acclaimed television show Private Practice. Good news, that is, except that the take home message for over 9 million viewers was that even physicians, presumably the most credible of all sources for health information, don’t fi nd it necessary to use condoms to protect their sexual health. As detailed in this chapter, that these physicians were virtual role models does not ameliorate the impact on social understandings of health.