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Shop ‘til you drop

October 17th, 2006     by Nicole Cohen     Comments

I am still trying decide what to make of this new “Red” campaign launched by Bono this week, in which major retailers like the Gap, Apple and Armani are selling red-coloured T-shirts, iPods and sunglasses and donating a portion of the proceeds to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS. News media have been gushing with details of Oprah and Bono’s shopping trip down the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, picking up Red items and feeling amazing about saving the world.

I have a few issues with this kind of “activism,” mainly that shopping can hardly affect any sort of radical change, and if these corps care so much, why don’t they just donate a large chunk of cash directly to the Fund, rather than Apple donating $10 of a $200 iPod? The reasons are obvious, which is why this type of activism is so heavily promoted by corporations (see: any pink item marketed to raise money for breast cancer).

On the other hand, while raising money this way is problematic for the way in which it frames political, social and economic issues like AIDS as a matter of consumption, what’s wrong with people who are going to buy these expensive items anyway sending some money to an important place? Even though this is a good cause, so to speak, the whole thing makes me feel uncomfortable. The Nation’s Richard Kim has a very well-put position on this, take a look.

Tags: activist report, body politics, news flash

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