Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Brad Pitt Brain Tumor

Maureen was complaining about her brain tumor. She had the damn thing removed 21 years ago, but she still has bad spells of vertigo. Sometimes her equilibrium dips and dives like a roller coaster ride.

It’s not supposed to be that way, dammit! Her doctor agrees. There’s no medical explanation for her vertigo, he says. He says somebody ought to make a case study out of her, but nobody’s putting much research money into her kind of brain tumor these days.

And that’s what Maureen complains about. You can’t build a good marketing campaign around a brain tumor like hers. It isn’t sexy enough. Hell, people can’t even pronounce it, let alone organize a bowl-a-thon to cure it. Her brain tumor is a Choroid Plexus Papilloma in the Fourth Ventricle. You don’t need an MBA to know that’s not a very catchy brand name. You can’t even form it into an easy-to-remember acronym, like AIDS. CPPFV? What the hell does that spell?

What her brain tumor needs, Maureen says, is someone like Christopher Reeve. When Christopher Reeve became a quad, oh baby, there was a tsunami of research money for quads. But Maureen’s brain tumor is an unmapped, uncharted, unclaimed publicity wilderness. No celebrity has stuck his or her flag in it, so to speak.

In Maureen’s fantasy, a hot celebrity gets her brain tumor; someone like Brad Pitt. No harm intended. This is a fantasy, so Brad Pitt quickly gets rid of his CPPFV in a holistic, noninvasive fashion. Like maybe he meditates it away or sings it away. And then he gets a brief period of vertigo, just long enough to get the attention of Congress. Because if Congress sees Brad Pitt stumbling around like Maureen stumbles around sometimes, there will be a volcano of research money for CPPFVers.

And then Brad Pitt and Maureen are cured and everybody lives happily ever after. Everybody except Brad Pitt. Because when you’re a celebrity and you get some kind of crippling condition, you may well become synonymous with that crippling condition whether you like it or not. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Christopher Reeve? It ain’t Superman. The crippling condition might even get named after you, like poor Lou Gehrig. Lou Gehrig got screwed all the way around on that proposition. If it happened today, at least he could retain a good copyright lawyer to get him a deal where he gets a nickel or something every time someone says Lou Gehrig’s disease.

CPPFV would become known as the Brad Pitt Brain Tumor, which would suck big time for Brad Pitt. He’d be the Christopher Reeve of brain tumors. Everyone would associate him with brain tumors rather than with his unforgettable movie roles, whatever they are.

That’s why celebrities fear having diseases named after them. It’s a bad career move, unless they’re trying to make a comeback and any publicity will do. The only people who enjoy having diseases named after them are doctors and researchers. For them it’s a big wet dream to have a colon polyp bearing their name, which shows what sickos they are.

Maureen doesn’t put much faith in the possibility of corporate naming rights coming to her rescue either. Wouldn’t it be heavenly if some corporation like Anheuser-Busch ponied up $25 million so CPPFV would be the Budweiser Brain Tumor? That could potentially pack the same marketing wallop as Brad Pitt. But who wants their product to remind people of brain tumors?

So Maureen just hangs on tight, riding her roller coaster.