The latest installment of the Saw horror film franchise and its distributor Lionsgate Films are adding consciousness raising to its promotion ahead of Jigsaw‘s late October release: a Halloween-themed blood drive accompanied by an online ad campaign, entitled “All Types Matter,” meant to protest onerous FDA restrictions on blood donation by gay and bisexual men.
With the tagline “Give ‘Til It Hurts,” the blood drive runs through October 27, the film’s release date, beginning in New York this week on October 5 and expanding to a total of 25 cities. While the gory film franchise that has grossed roughly $1 billion at the box office worldwide has coyly used this promotional tactic before, what is new is the advocacy message being pushed alongside it.
Lionsgate initially came up with the idea in 2004 to generate buzz for the first “Saw” . . . [Liongsgate chief brand officer Tim] Palen organized similar blood drives for the next five “Saw” movies. By 2009, these stunts, each with a different nurse theme, resulted in so many donations — some 120,000 pints — that the American Red Cross gave him an award.
But times change, and Mr. Palen is now taking a more antagonistic approach. “All Types Welcome” is a condemnation of blood donation rules set by the Food and Drug Administration that prohibit most gay or bisexual men from giving; before donating, they have to forgo same-sex sexual encounters for at least a year, a contentious precaution resulting from concerns about H.I.V.
“It’s exclusion, and it’s ridiculous, and it’s discriminatory,” Ms. Lepore said in an interview. Mark Burg, the producer who has helped steer the “Saw” franchise, was even more blunt.
“We want this policy changed,” he said.
The policy in question came into effect in 2015, superseding the previous outright ban on all blood donations from gay or bisexual men with a still-draconian requirement of one year’s celibacy prior to donating. This restriction has drawn fire as unnecessary and unworkable, with demonstrations against it including a man actually meeting the new standard to highlight its unfairness as well a symbolic art installation including blood from fifty gay men.
The ad campaign for the eighth Saw film includes the now-familiar-for-the-franchise nurse’s outfit motif, but draws upon a diverse array of models to reflect the “All Types Matter” slogan, a play on the medical designation of blood type to include archetypes, and stresses an inclusive message that “All types [are] welcome.”
Featured along with fitness instructor and model Dan Rockwell and Sudanese supermodel “Queen of the Dark” Nyakim Gatwech are social media celebrity Mykie, colorful film critic Grae Drake, burlesque model Mosh, transgender nightlife diva Amanda Lepore, and sexegenarian promoter Susanne Bartsch.