Sunday, September 21, 2008

Buying the Pain Away

As we all know, you cannot open up any magazine geared towards women without being bombarded by advertisements. After all, the purpose of these magazines is to encourage you to buy, and/or bully you into buying because you're too fat/smelly/hairy, etc., so that advertising and actual editorial content become one and the same. We all know that! But one thing I am getting really sick of is the (oftentimes) celebrity-endorsed charity buy. You know what I'm talking about- Paris Hilton scribbles some happy faces on a t-shirt, and then it is sold for $75 and like 2% of it, if that, actually goes to charity.

Also similar is the really expensive necklace/hat/doodad that is supposed to benefit charity. We all know it's breast cancer awareness month when a zillion pink things start appearing on the shelves of stores nationwide. What better way to help cure a disease that effects women than with shopping, which is what women just, like, do anyway? Lucky Magazine always has a section devoted entirely to "charity buys" - even though I can't help but imagine the ecological cost of producing that $191 pillow probably makes the 30% supposedly donated to offset the "world water crisis" less significant.

Here we have the new $50, Miley Cyrus designed t-shirt created for the brand "Spread the Love" (Mischa Barton's design is also a real gem.) whose website proclaims that "2 LOVE is a lifestyle brand whose celebrity-designed products endorse a message of love while benefiting charities that elevate lives. The company inspires young women to love themselves, and in turn spread the love to others. Our unique marketing initiative – designed to empower women and promote philanthropy – has struck a chord among Hollywood’s A-listers, who have signed on in droves to join the 2 LOVE mission. "

Yeah, their unique marketing concept, because that's all these things are. Never is it specified how much money is actually going to charity (And, as we all learned from The Simpsons, zero percent is a portion too!) or that the company is non-profit. I can't believe they have the nerve to act as though they are improving women's self esteem through some fugly, expensive, sweatshop-made tees with the words "love" printed on them.

Historically, women have had an interesting connection with philanthropy (okay, I wrote a paper with this thesis once...I could go on) because it's always been a way they could effect political, economic, and social change while still retaining stereotypical feminine traits- you're not being an activist, you're just gently helping out! Spreading the love! Adding the shopping middleman to the mix makes it an even more passive way to supposedly change the world. With all this hullabaloo about greeness, no one wants to point out that there's nothing green about buying newly produced things, even if those things are Kate Hudson's new organic shampoo line (ooh, she's posing on the savannah! How "I am African!")

And for the celebs and the companies, the whole deal is obviously a PR thing. The stars look good because they took time out of their busy schedules to have their assistants glue some shit to a toy duck, while the companies get millions of people clamoring for their products, which they are still making mad bank on. And the people who buy the stuff get to tell themselves they're doing good.

If you really want to help people, write a fucking check to a real charity organization, or, you know, actually get involved in something that doesn't happen at the mall.

PS: Vom!

PPS: Don't worry, not all my posts are going to relate to politics from now on. I've got some anti-leggings stuff in the works!


Alex said...

This is Bono's fault.

M said...

what isn't? certainly not the rise of wrap around colored-lense sunglasses.

Simone said...

Barbara Ehrenreich wrote a really great article in Harper's about all the "buy this pink crap for breast cancer!" bullshit that companies sponsor a few years ago. You should read it, it's really good.

Also, can you write a blog about the rachel zoe project? it's like, i hate that show but i can't turn away!