Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pink ribbons for what?

I have very little interest in the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Well, of course there are great films screened there. But every year Toronto goes into a kind of orgasmic frenzy over their fest which is really hard to stomach. “George Clooney in Hazleton Lanes!” Gag me! But I did come across a story about one particular film screened at TIFF on a subject about which I have some interest. This is the breast cancer Pink Ribbon campaign.....Acclaimed Quebec filmmaker LĂ©a Pool was commissioned by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) to make a film based in part on writings by noted feminists Barbara Ehrenreich (“We used to march in the streets; now we run for a cure”) and Samantha King. The two have long questioned what the film, Pink Ribbons Inc., describes as the poster child of cause-related marketing, with the ubiquitous pink ribbons in all manner of merchandising and even the colours worn by burly NFL football players. Yet, says the film, despite the fact pink ribbon campaigners maintain we are closer to a cure than ever, mortality rates have essentially not changed in 60 years.....Women, the movie says, “are the most influential market group, buying 80 per cent of consumer products and making most major household purchasing decisions. As they walk, shop, run, jump and race for the cure, corporations continue to boost their bottom line. Yet the money raised through all these efforts is unevenly allocated - treatment and cure are favoured over primary prevention, to the virtual exclusion of the latter”.....I find Pool a fascinating director and she has made numerous dramatic and documentary films. I caught her 1999 Emporte-Moi (Set Me Free) on late night TV several years ago and couldn’t turn it off, the depiction of working class family life in a 1960s Montreal flat was so realistic.....Said producer Ravida Din, who recruited Pool and who herself had been treated for breast cancer, “The question I was intrigued by was, ‘How did we get to this kind of breast cancer culture that privileges shopping (as a solution) as opposed to getting angry and asking for change?' ” (Picture from film courtesy NFB)

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