Review: Pink Ribbons Inc

Is the message more important than the money when it comes to charity fundraising? The answer isn’t quite clear in director Léa Poole’s controversial and somewhat cynical Pink Ribbons Inc, a documentary that asks many questions and provides few answers about the corporatisation of the breast cancer awareness movement.

The film tackles a range of issues including the allocation of money raised for research, the integrity of sponsors who engage in ‘pinkwashing’, and the neglect of stage four sufferers by what one commentator calls the “tyranny of happiness”.

The major focus of the documentary centres on the corporate cause-related marketing and the advantageous use of the breast cancer awareness movement to improve profits. But for all the finger pointing and accusations of exploitation, the documentary fails to address the fact that this money is doing good work in the battle against breast cancer.

Charities aren’t perfect. Corporations certainly aren’t.

Improvements can always be made both to the effectiveness of bureaucracy and corporate responsibility and while this documentary focuses primarily on where the money comes from, it does raise important questions about where the money goes.

No one can deny that Avon, KFC, Revlon and the National Football League profit from their association with the breast cancer awareness movement but so do those who suffer from the disease.  And when progress of medical research is reliant on funding, isn’t the $380 million raised by Avon Walks the most effective way to improve lives?

While glaringly obvious what this documentary opposes, it is very difficult to discern what the creators seek to achieve. Do they want less money donated to breast cancer awareness and medical research in order to achieve an ideological victory against corporate America?

The tagline is ‘Capitalizing on hope’, which in the context of the documentary is evidently a crack at the distasteful corporatisation of breast cancer.

In the real world, however, and for sufferers of this awful disease, the ends justify the means. This may be achieved by ‘capitalizing on hope’ but so what? To alter the status quo would be to cut off the collective nose to spite the face.

Sunday  August 19, 4:00pm Dendy Opera Quays

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