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  1. #1
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Default Commercializing Cancer

    Does anyone feel that breast cancer has some weird misplaced consumerism attached to it? I see all these advertisements and events for finding a cure but the associated paraphernalia that goes along with it leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Here's an excerpt from an essay by Barbara Ehrenreich written a few years ago about her experiences with the "Cult of Pink Kitsch:"

    ...and bears are only the tip, so to speak, of the cornucopia of pink-ribbon-themed breast-cancer products. You can dress in pink-beribboned sweatshirts, denim shirts, pajamas, lingerie, aprons, loungewear, shoelaces, and socks; accessorize with pink rhinestone brooches, angel pins, scarves, caps, earrings, and bracelets; brighten up your home with breast-cancer candles, stained-glass pink-ribbon candleholders, coffee mugs, pendants, wind chimes, and night-lights; pay your bills with special BreastChecks or a separate line of Checks for the Cure. "Awareness" beats secrecy and stigma of course, but I can't help noticing that the existential space in which a friend has earnestly advised me to "confront [my] mortality" bears a striking resemblance to the mall.
    Do we commercialize other forms of cancer like this, or even other diseases like heart disease or AIDS? Why does breast cancer specifically lend itself so well to this type of consumerism? Could increasing survival/decreasing mortality rates allow for more levity concerning this disease?
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
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  2. #2

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    This may sound glib, but I think it's because the breast cancer ribbon is pink. Women are the overwhelming sufferers of breast cancer, and lots of women enjoy buying things that are pink. If way back whenever, whoever does the ribbons made the breast cancer ribbon olive green, none of this would have happened.
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  3. #3
    heart on fire
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    Does anyone feel that breast cancer has some weird misplaced consumerism attached to it? I see all these advertisements and events for finding a cure but the associated paraphernalia that goes along with it leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Here's an excerpt from an essay by Barbara Ehrenreich written a few years ago about her experiences with the "Cult of Pink Kitsch:"



    Do we commercialize other forms of cancer like this, or even other diseases like heart disease or AIDS? Why does breast cancer specifically lend itself so well to this type of consumerism? Could increasing survival/decreasing mortality rates allow for more levity concerning this disease?
    Thank you! Yes, it deeply disturbs me. People should donate to the causes that are important to them, but the commercialization of breast cancer really does leave a bad taste in my mouth.

    Edit: And having a cute, pink fuzzy little teddy on one's desk to show support or whatever doesn't make one even begin to understand what it must be like to face the possiblity of death and have to fight for one's life while undergoing economic hardships etc. How empty such gestures must seem to real people going through such. People who really want to help and are able would do best volunteering to drive someone back and forth to chemo or something like that or give money directly to the breast cancer associations.


    Quote Originally Posted by EffEmDoubleyou View Post
    This may sound glib, but I think it's because the breast cancer ribbon is pink. Women are the overwhelming sufferers of breast cancer, and lots of women enjoy buying things that are pink. If way back whenever, whoever does the ribbons made the breast cancer ribbon olive green, none of this would have happened.
    Red is the color for HIV/AIDS isn't it? Red should have had a near equal appeal. I like reds better than pinks myself.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by heart View Post
    Red is the color for HIV/AIDS isn't it? Red should have had a near equal appeal. I like reds better than pinks myself.
    Maybe, but AIDS is not as universally lamented as breast cancer because the perception is that AIDS can be avoided while breast cancer simply happens. I'm sure that's part of why red AIDS products would not be as popular. I don't think it's the color, because Project (RED) stuff sells.
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  5. #5
    Courage is immortality Valiant's Avatar
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    I think it's because people likes tits, and want them to stay attached to women.

    Mightier than the tread of marching armies is the power of an idea whose time has come

  6. #6
    Senior Member oasispaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heart View Post
    Thank you! Yes, it deeply disturbs me. People should donate to the causes that are important to them, but the commercialization of breast cancer really does leave a bad taste in my mouth.

    Edit: And having a cute, pink fuzzy little teddy on one's desk to show support or whatever doesn't make one even begin to understand what it must be like to face the possiblity of death and have to fight for one's life while undergoing economic hardships etc. How empty such gestures must seem to real people going through such.

    Red is the color for HIV/AIDS isn't it? Red should have had a near equal appeal. I like reds better than pinks myself.
    i totally agree. i think the original point was to raise awareness, which it has, but i find myself annoyed with all of the pink crap. they should give instructions on how to do a proper breast exam with the stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by EffEmDoubleyou View Post
    Maybe, but AIDS is not as universally lamented as breast cancer because the perception is that AIDS can be avoided while breast cancer simply happens. I'm sure that's part of why red AIDS products would not be as popular. I don't think it's the color, because Project (RED) stuff sells.
    i just bought a red cell phone and when it arrived it i noticed that it happened to be a project (red) promo. i think apple has a (red) ipod as well. and there are red heart and red dress pins to help raise awareness of heart disease, more specifically, heart disease in women. also, wear red days and walks and stuff. i live in activist-city so i may be a little more exposed to this stuff than people in other parts of the country.

    i randomly end up with red 'awareness' items because i like red stuff more than other colors.
    just throw it against the wall and see what sticks.

  7. #7
    Senior Member creativeRhino's Avatar
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    I think the merchandise thing is a collision of public education, public perception, a good business strategy and our consumer culture.

    My mother died of breast cancer long ago (early 1980s), back then chemo was a "new thing" and no thought was given to becoming a "survivor" as the 5 year survival rate was bad - but now where I am it is 80%. Because of that I've done some volunteering work with cancer organisations.

    perception/education :

    Depending on where you live the breast cancer rate is in the vicinity of 1 in 10 women getting it. So it is an easy thing to campaign on because of the "relevance" to the average woman.

    Research has shown that many people tend to be in denial about cancer and fear actually getting symptoms checked out. So, all the publicity tends to remind people it is better to get things "sooner" rather than later.

    Business strategy:
    Cancer organisations (maybe for research, patient support or advocacy) seeking money can find the going tough to compete with all the other equally worthy causes. So making a very public thing (such as having pink stuff in supermarket checkouts etc) is more pervasive (spread and timing) than having people going around collecting, holding the ubiquitous fun run etc. Now the flow-back to the charity tends to be very small, but every bit helps.

    Producers of "stuff" have an interesting sub-industry that takes all sorts of plain products and turns them into "branded promotional material" as freebies for conventional businesses. The drug industry is notorious for that, so this stuff joins all those fundraising chocolates etc in being harnessed for the charities. A good line of business for manufacturers - so the purchase stimulates one part of the economy and odd-on even China will get a little boost.

    Consumer Culture:

    Charitable donations are a "luxury" - they do nothing to meet a person's immediate basic needs, and will ever so slightly slow down progress in saving/borrowing for discretionary things.

    The "brand" thing is very powerful these days and so having pink things becomes a "virtuous brand" - in a weird sort of way a "conspicuous consumption" (saying "see, I care and I financially support!").

    Having been involved in various fund raising activities I'm very aware of the research that tends to indicate that the "average" person (ie not super weatlthy philanthropists etc) tends to like to have "something to show for it" - and the stuff does this. Where I live if you get anything in return (ie a lottery/raffle ticket, toy etc) you can seldom claim a tax deduction, but there is a distinct group that prefers the stuff to getting a deduction. I would rather give $ direct for that reason and mostly because more money gets to the actual cause.

    So, it is really a clever way of normal businesses in the relevant niches to capitalise on the charities needs of fundraising and public education. Good all around on that point, but it still fills the world with more cheap unnecessary "stuff". Why do we need more "stuff"????

  8. #8
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    Does anyone feel that breast cancer has some weird misplaced consumerism attached to it? I see all these advertisements and events for finding a cure but the associated paraphernalia that goes along with it leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Here's an excerpt from an essay by Barbara Ehrenreich written a few years ago about her experiences with the "Cult of Pink Kitsch:"



    Do we commercialize other forms of cancer like this, or even other diseases like heart disease or AIDS? Why does breast cancer specifically lend itself so well to this type of consumerism? Could increasing survival/decreasing mortality rates allow for more levity concerning this disease?
    You commercialize anything that brings the maximum profit.
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  9. #9
    12 and a half weeks BerberElla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heart View Post
    T

    Edit: And having a cute, pink fuzzy little teddy on one's desk to show support or whatever doesn't make one even begin to understand what it must be like to face the possiblity of death and have to fight for one's life while undergoing economic hardships etc. How empty such gestures must seem to real people going through such. People who really want to help and are able would do best volunteering to drive someone back and forth to chemo or something like that or give money directly to the breast cancer associations.
    And donating outright somehow does?
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Jasz's Avatar
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    i think it is great they have been able to mobilize so many people. the only thing is that breast cancer has one of the better survival rates. other cancers should get at least as much attention if the goal is to help everyone. but how do you mobilize people around "pancreatic cancer", or "lung cancer" where there is a big "it's your own fault" stigma?
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