In class yesterday, we watched the film Pink Ribbons, Inc. This was a truly fantastic film, about the cause-related marketing scheme that has really taken over the public’s understanding of breast cancer. Campaigns like the Yoplait “Save Lids to Save Lives” or even the Susan G Komen “Walk for the Cure” create a feeling in participants that they are accomplishing something that will help the future of breast cancer research, when in actuality, either very little money is donated, or the money is going into “research” that has yet to accomplish anything. This film does a great job in pointing out the hypocrisy of many of these companies and corporations that claim to be “doing good.” The film also features the voices of women with stage 4 breast cancer, who resent the words and phrases often used by these groups, such as “survivor” or “battle against cancer,” because they make those who eventually die of cancer seem like losers.
In general, I liked the film. However, there was one aspect that really turned me off. Often, when the camera was showing a man or woman who was participating in a walk or run for the cure, they made the participants seem foolish or stupid. On more than one occasion, while watching the film in class, my fellow classmates would laugh at the individual on screen, who was talking about why they are participating in this walk/run. And this just seemed cruel. I am fully aware that part of the video viral sensation has been to laugh at videos of people who we deem “less than” or whose beliefs and ideas we find silly or stupid (a good example of this is the Leprechaun in Mobile, Alabama video, which now has over 21,ooo,ooo views, and of course, it’s own auto tune version as well). And to be fair, I am guilty of this as well. I sit around and watch these viral videos with my friends too. But to see the men and women attending these marches shown as stupid really ticked me off, and seemed like a case of misplaced aggression.
These are not people we should be looking down on. These people are honestly doing what they think is right, and what they believe will help themselves, their significant other, their children, their friends. They are not the ones who should be criticized. The organizers of these events, the companies who knowingly profit off of other peoples illness, the people who make men and women living with cancer feel less than, they are the ones who we should shame. It seems to me like ostracizing participants of Walk for the Cures is counter productive. We should be informing people about the practices of these companies and organizations, coming up with ways to support those living with cancer, and finding ways to fund research that is working to find ways to prevent breast cancer. We should not be making people who are simply doing what they think will help look stupid.