The following is a rant I’m making about the RED campaign that has taken over Myspace today. Before I get people pointing out that any help or money to these people is something to thankful for, I know. I’m just pointing out below why I disagree with that as being ‘the best we can do’.
The new face of charity
Today I logged into Myspace and noticed the front page had been taken over by ego Red. Now I’d like to share a couple of issues I have with this project.
Ok, so Red makes no bones about it not being a charity and it simply being a consumer choice (one that will apparently help millions of people) but as a concept that just doesn’t sit right with me.
Aids in Africa is a huge problem, one that no doubt would have been lessened somewhat had the catholic church not campaigned AGAINST people using contraception. Maybe fucking Bono should take time out from having tea and chit chatting with bastards like the George Bush and the Pope and actually use his position to stick some difficult questions to these people. If Bono cared about the plight of anyone except Bono then he’d have actually made some personal difference, I realise he has publicised some good causes but never have I seen him take anything more than a shaky, political sloganeering stance on any issue, ever. Still, I’m sure all that good publicity he gets for himself through this ‘work’ never goes to his head.
Back to my problem with Red (Bono can wait, I’ll deal with him another time)…
So the problem is poverty, what causes poverty kids?
Behind the increasing interconnectedness promised by globalization, are global decisions, policies, and practices. These are typically influenced, driven, or formulated by the rich and powerful. These can be leaders of rich countries or other global actors such as multinational corporations, institutions, and influential people.
And how do these multinationals get so big? Who keeps them so powerful? The answer is the consumer, us, because if you’re reading this on a computer then you probably aren’t living in poverty. We buy their products, made in their sweatshops. We use their services, shelling out for airwaves or data cables that cost them next to nothing to provide.
And Red’s solution? Buy our multinational partners products!
The mobile phone industry must be chuffed that people will either be buying new handsets or starting new contracts in order to ‘help’. American Express will likewise be only too happy to shell out 1% of your spending in order to gain you as a customer, after all if you get charged a couple of times that’ll pay off their investment and make them some money. Plus there’s this fantastic bonus:
By giving you access to hand-picked offers and events, REDdeals help you get the most out of life: expect access to gigs, sporting events, late shopping nights and valuable travel and shopping offers.
GREAT! So they send you marketing bollocks to make you spend more as well! I imagine it costs a pretty penny for a company to advertise to all those American Express customers. Just another way that under the hood, all these companies will still, despite their charitable contributions, be making a profit from RED. Further advancing their profits and status as multinational companies.
So the RED ethos seems to be to fight the effects of consumersim with more consumerism. Is that teaching some kind of lesson? RED is offering people an alternative to charity, one where they can still be slaves to the market, only this time they’re paying off any sense of guilt they may have. They’re paying to opt out of actually doing anything about poverty. What do you do about poverty? “Me? Oh, I paid at the door mate”.
In theory, charities shouldn’t have to exist. Our societies should be able to work out systems where THESE FACTS don’t exist. Why should we have to subsidise the work that our governments are failing to do?
So, buy the RED trainers, order it over your RED phone, pay for it with your RED credit card, all you can do is continue to lace the pockets of large companies until there is some actual, tangible change in the way things are run. People like Bono are probably in a better position to suggest these changes to all the important people he lunches with, but he won’t. Cos he’s a massive fanny.