As 2010 ends, let’s be careful out there…

As hard as it is to believe, today is the last day of 2010. An old year has flown by once again, and, almost before I realized it, a new year will arrive where I live in mere hours. It’s been a truly weird year, even more so than the average level of weirdness. That’s why I can’t think of a better way to close it out than to post something that is just as weird as 2010 has been. Ever since I saw this on Bioephemera nearly three weeks ago, I’ve been looking for an excuse to post this video. Given that I’m going to spend the last day of 2010 working on a grant, leaving little time for finishing the year out with one of my typical 3,000+ word rants. I guess you’ll just have to wait until 2011 for a resumption of that habit of mine.

In the meantime, check out this awesomely weird video:

It was apparently made by the U.S. Navy back in the early 1970s and recently resurfaced on the Department of Defense’s Armed With Science blog, where it is described thusly:

Produced for the National Naval Medical Center in 1973, The Return of Count Spirochete is a delightful animated film dramatizing the medical facts about venereal disease. That, and so much more.

As the story begins, we join the (probably) world famous “Communicable Disease of the Year Award” ceremony, which acknowledges the one disease that has “done the most effective job of contaminating others.” Smallpox, diphtheria, tuberculosis, and the common cold are all serious contenders for the coveted “Fourth Horseman.”

However, in a surprising turn of events, the award goes to Count Spirochete (aka syphilis), much to the chagrin of the other contestants. In response to their outrage, the master of ceremonies then proceeds to explain in graphic detail the various reasons why Count Spirochete is deserving of the award.

When I first saw this video, all I could think of was how its producers thought that sailors and Marines would find it persuasive. I also wondered why, if this was targeted at soldiers, it couldn’t be a bit less anatomically–shall we say?–ambiguous. In any case, this little film was a hoot–educational and unintentionally hilarious.

Hey, you know, this might not be such a bad way to finish out the year after all. Think about it. There will be lots of New Years parties tonight, and there will be lots of attempts to hook up. Heed the warning of the Grim Reaper and Count Spirochete, and, in addition to not drinking and driving, let’s be careful out there in other ways.


  1. #1 Todd W.
    December 31, 2010

    Hehe…”climax of the evening”.

    Good message, but, yeah…the presentation is a bit…off.

  2. #2 Liz Ditz
    December 31, 2010

    Dear Orac,

    Thanks for all you do. Including finding odd but entertaining videos.

    Hope your grant-writing function runs smoothly today.

  3. #3 Scottynuke
    December 31, 2010

    Happy New Year to Orac and all the gang!

    And don’t believe the grant cover story — I hear he’s off to Times Square to fill in for the ball. 🙂

  4. #4 Anonymous
    December 31, 2010

    No recreational Orac post is complete without some Bowie. Have a groovy New Year!

  5. #5 Dana Hunter
    December 31, 2010

    Happy New Year! Here’s looking forward to another year of Oracian rants!

  6. #6 prn
    January 1, 2011

    I heard the Count has been visiting London, thinking of moving out of Eastern Europe to try western decadence.

  7. #7 Adam C.
    January 1, 2011

    …Heh. Weird film. Presentation is bizarre, but then, the 70s popular shows were like that.

    Really surprised they didn’t mention vaccinaton for all the vaccination-preventable diseases being shown, though. I mean, I’m not sure of the dates for all the vaccinations, but Smallpox was eradicated by vaccination, so you’d think a line like “And all the rest of you can be prevented by vaccination, which has already almost eliminated Smallpox, but no vaccination exists for syphillis or gonnorhea.” would appear.

    Maybe they thought everyone knew about vaccinations?

  8. #8 bioephemera
    January 2, 2011

    A reader wrote to me after I posted that video and argued that, when I suggested its audience targeting was way off base, I was simply too young to understand the 1970s aesthetic. I don’t think it’s that simple though. Thanks so much for sharing my opinion about the bizarrely prudish anatomical coverage (what, like a bunch of sailors can’t handle cartoon genitalia?) In fact, for deterrent purposes, why the heck didn’t they make the entire thing full of cartoon genitalia portrayed complete with horrendous symptoms? I seriously doubt that a thorough knowledge of the medieval origins of VD ever deterred anyone from unprotected sex…

  9. #9 -
    January 9, 2011

    all hetero, of course.
    the generic humans are “flesh colored”.
    the generic woman’s outline is very curvalicious.

    i like cartoons. the purple gonor character reminds me of those foot fungus toon adverts.
    but, this vid ran toooo long. sometimes i thoughts wandered to imagining the real people behind the voice parts.

  10. #10 Villarreal25Phoebe
    March 19, 2012

    People deserve wealthy life and business loans or collateral loan would make it much better. Just because freedom depends on money state.

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