In a controversial ad played during the 2000 Super Bowl, Christopher Reeves walks across a stage, or seems to walk across a stage. The ad opens with a blue tinted New York cityscape, subway and newsstand. The voice-over situates the scene in the future,
And in the years since the new millennium
The world has seen such progress
In 2004 the tide was turned against AIDS
The voice-over is the master of ceremonies at an awards ceremony in a great hall (we can imagine a Lincoln Center). Shots of a father watching television as his son walks by with a soccer ball in a hospital waiting room and a paraplegic in a wheel chair lend support to the announcer's claim. This is followed by a close-up of a man as he stands from his wheel chair. We see his feet as he walks across the stage. Finally, a close-up of his face reveals that he is Christopher Reeves. He shakes hands with the announcer and is followed by a number of apparent victims of spinal cord injury who also walk across the stage to a standing ovation from the audience. The final shot is of the father holding his son in his arms smiling assuredly.
Two years later, great strides against cancer
Tonight we celebrate a remarkable breakthrough in spinal cord injuries
Made possible by countless researchers and contributors.
And to present this award we have some very special guests
In the future so many amazing things will happen in the world
What amazing things can you make happen?
Only when the narrative ends do viewers learn who the sponsor is.
Leave your mark
These narratives of science are valorized by the human faces. The viewer is positioned to empathetically identify with afflicted persons -- in this case a celebrity victim.
What if it were our son who had cancer, or our daughter who had asthma? What would we do if an accident took away our ability to walk?
How does one criticize these claims and these efforts? Perhaps we can ask what is absented (left out) in this humanitarian economy of medicine driven by capital. What drugs are developed? At what cost? What kinds of drugs languish, unfunded, because they present no clear path to profits? Who has access to the most advanced medical technologies? Does competition drive the market or is it a barrier to potentially shared research? Nuveen uses the image of Reeves morphed on to a body to represent the good that investment capital can do when properly deployed to assist in medical research.