MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation (SAF) is a groundbreaking public charity whose goal is to reach youth around the world. SAF promotes the education and prevention of HIV and AIDS, fights the stigmas commonly attached to HIV/AIDS, empowers youth to take action regarding the prevention and awareness of HIV/AIDS, and furthermore motivates a variety of organizations and institutions to formulate responses to HIV/AIDS. MTV’s iconic and instantaneously recognizable status amongst youth enables the foundation to reach households and individuals globally through its innovative mass media campaign; including concerts, documentaries, televised broadcasts, public service announcements, television film, and social media.
By utilizing MTV’s access to world famous artists in the music and television industry, the foundation reaches millions across the world; furthering the foundations ability to be a guiding voice for youth throughout the world who seek the education regarding the prevention of HIV and AIDS. Through MTV’s widely influential media empire, the Staying Alive Foundation has become the world’s largest mass-media campaign to promote the prevention and awareness of HIV amongst youth.
MTV’s access to individuals of celebrity status in television, film, and music (all of which are ingrained in the fabric of popular culture), enables the SAF to access the fans of a myriad of iconic and widely followed individuals. One of which, Ruby Rose, starred in the incredibly popular Netflix Prison Comedy/Drama – Orange is The New Black (OITNB), and has taken popular culture by storm. OITNB is widely known to push the boundaries on issues of race, gender, and sexuality; capturing a broad array of viewing audiences, furthering Ruby’s platform as a spokesperson on issues of vital importance.
Recognizing the influence and media presence Ruby retains, Staying Alive has written a piece on their website about Rose (http://stayingalivefoundation.org/blog/2015/06/ruby-rose-and-gender-fluidity/) which cites Rose’s experiences on many issues of gender identity and sexuality. By doing this, Staying Alive is using Rose as a catalyst to youth audiences around the world, and specifically youth LGBTQ audiences. Her countless appearances on social media feeds convey the admiration of her numerous and immensely dedicated fans. An openly gay married woman, Ruby Rose’s status allows her to connect to the gay community on a personal level. HIV/AIDS was widely known to have a heavy impact on gay communities throughout the world, so seeing the face of an LGBTQ individual on the Staying Alive website would undeniably gather the attention of the gay youth who know and admire rose. Furthermore, Staying Alive is garnering attention to the cause of HIV awareness and prevention by using Rose’s familiar face and well respected opinion on issues of social importance like HIV/AIDS.
Using celebrities and recognizable individuals enables staying alive to approach youth about social issues in an informal way that doesn’t arouse apprehension, using articles and media enables people to learn about things by choice, and garnering people’s interest on issues like HIV/AIDS is something that cannot be forced. Knowing this, Staying Alive effectively reaches a global audience by using current events and trending individuals to maintain the relevance of HIV/AIDS awareness in popular culture.
This innovative methodology to decrease the impact of a devastating and costly virus like HIV/AIDS by utilizing popular cultures undeniable connection with youth culture is something that Staying Alive has used to its advantage. These valiant efforts by Staying Alive are benefitting youth by educating them on an issue of vital importance to humanity’s well being – in a way which they can relate to and understand.