The marketing for the newest film in the “Saw” horror movie franchise, “Jigsaw,” has become an unexpected conduit for LGBT activism.
The film’s new blood drive-focused ad campaign, entitled “All Types Welcome,” aims to protest the rule the Food and Drug Administration instituted in 2015 that requires gay and bisexual men to be sexually abstinent for at least a year before giving blood, citing a risk of HIV infection as a factor. The “Jigsaw” campaign enlisted LGBT-identifying social media stars dressed in eerie nurse costumes, such as transgender nightlife legend Amanda Lepore and gay model Shaun Ross, to make its mark.
Holding blood drives as promotion for the “Saw” films has been common territory for Lionsgate, the film’s production studio, for over a decade. Tim Palen, Lionsgate’s chief brand officer, began setting up blood drives as promotion for “Saw,” the first film in the series, in 2004. The New York Times reports that by 2009, the blood drive promotions had amassed such a wealth of blood donations, at least 120,000 pints, that the American Red Cross awarded Palen with an award.
“It’s exclusion, it’s ridiculous, and it’s discriminatory,” Amanda Lepore stated to the New York Times, concerning the FDA regulation for gay and bisexual men.
Similarly, Mark Burg, a producer for the Saw franchise, told The Times, “We want this policy changed.”
Though the new celibacy rule was instated only a couple of years ago, there have been restrictions on gay and bisexual men donating blood since 1983. Lyndsay Meyer, a spokesperson for the FDA, stated to the Times that though the revised rule is not ideal, the FDA feels it represents progress:
“‘While acknowledging at the time that the change to a 12-month deferral was less than hoped for by some, the F.D.A. considered this to be a first step,’ Ms. Meyer said, adding that studies are underway to ‘help inform further changes to policy.’”
A spokesperson for the Red Cross, Jodi D. Sheedy, echoed a similar message of hopeful inclusivity to the Times:
“‘The Red Cross believes all potential blood donors should be treated with fairness, equality, and respect…Accurate donor histories and medically supported donor deferral criteria are critical’ [to blood supply safety.]”
The “Jigsaw” “All Types Welcome” blood drive campaign will have locations all across the US in October beginning with New York City on October 5th. A full list of dates, locations and more can be found at www.jigsawblooddrive.com.