Three Amigos, one message to the US: stop spread of HIV

Click to follow
The Independent US

They are called Dick, Shaft and Stretch and are a huge hit in South Africa. In Canada, their debut last December was met with a standing ovation. The question now is whether three animated condoms on a mission to halt HIV can somehow negotiate puritanism, religious fundamentalism and the sex-averse instincts of the Bush administration to make it in the US.

They are called Dick, Shaft and Stretch and are a huge hit in South Africa. In Canada, their debut last December was met with a standing ovation. The question now is whether three animated condoms on a mission to halt HIV can somehow negotiate puritanism, religious fundamentalism and the sex-averse instincts of the Bush administration to make it in the US.

Dick, Shaft and Stretch are, collectively, the Three Amigos, and the 20 public service announcements tracing their comic adventures have been credited with destigmatising condoms even in a society like South Africa, where wearing prophylatics has traditionally been considered un-macho.

The two men who launched the series, South African Brent Quinn and his Canadian partner Firdaus Kharas, are now talking to Hollywood actors, US funding sources and officials in Washington to further their campaign.

Mr Quinn told The New Yorker magazine his dream cast would include the black comedian Chris Rock as Shaft and Benicio del Toro as Stretch. The surfer dude Dick was based on Jeff Bridges' turn in the Coen brothers' film The Big Lebowski, so he would be an obvious choice. As for Femidom, their female buddy, who better than Jennifer Lopez? The Amigos' adventures use humour rather than fear to promote condoms. They indulge in space travel, football ("you just can't score without a condom") and bungee jumping ("never make a leap of faith - always wear a condom").

The project has met with near-universal enthusiasm. The Ethiopian health ministry has requested copies in several tribal languages, and part of the present fund-raising effort aims to make ita reality.

The one exception has been the US government. "Their priority is more A and B: abstinence and be faithful," Mr Quinn told The New Yorker. This seems to reflect the concerns of conservative church groups. In South Africa a US Baptist missionary has already been railing against the broadcasts.

Other church leaders feel differently. Archbishop Desmond Tutu endorses the initiative wholeheartedly: "Animated characters are a non-threatening, non-authoritarian vehicle for communication."

Comments