Faux-lanthropy

Ok, look.

/climbs onto soapbox, tests microphone

I (/kick) have had it (/punch) up to here (/stomp) with “being charitable” (/smash) as a marketing ploy (/tableflip). Got it? I’m sick of it. Sick. Of. It.

Please start by taking a moment to read this letter from the owner of the Washington Redskins. I’ll wait.

/straightens table

/polishes kickin’ boots

…Do you see what he did there? Do you see it? For those of you who were unable to access the letter–maybe you’re at work and your company is not so big on people going to sports teams’ websites–here’s the summary in handy numbered-list format:

1. We hear that people might not like the name “Redskins”, on account of how it’s all racist and stuff. So we talked to some Real Live Indians(TM) about it, and learned that many of them are busy trying to do things like “not freeze to death” or “not starve to death” or “keep our youth from committing suicide” and not spending much time thinking about our team name.

2. Therefore, we’re keeping the name, because hey, look, the Real Live Indians(TM) themselves said it’s not keeping them up at night! Yayyyyy, no rebranding for us!

3. Also, suck it, liberals.

4. However, since some of you are just bound and determined to keep raising a stink about all this, we’ve set up a Charitable Organization for Giving Stuff to Real Live Indians(TM). See? We’re good people, y’all. You can tell by how we’re giving away some of our hard-earned dollars. Just giving it away! They don’t even have to do anything! We’re just giving it to them! So they can buy things–like for instance the Omaha nation in Nebraska bought a backhoe so they can bury their dead even when the ground is frozen. Like civilized people! No, no, no need to erect monuments to our generosity. Seeing these poor little brown people with coats on (did I tell you we bought some coats? We totally did) is thanks enough.

5. P.S., Still not changing the name.

Now, to be fair, I may have been a bit liberal (pun only sort of intended) with the paraphrasing there. Maybe he didn’t mean to come across as smug and entitled and weaselly as he did. Maybe he really does think he’s doing a good thing.

…Yeah, who am I kidding? No he doesn’t. He can’t possibly. I flatly refuse to believe in that level of obliviousness. If he is that clueless, I need him to stop being in charge of anything more complicated than the toaster immediately.

/flips table again

Here’s the thing, y’all. We see this sort of [rude word] all the time. Not interested in talking about the racism and privilege inherent in the use of the word “Redskins” (PS, that’s akin to calling your team “the Blackies” or “the Slant-Eyes”, guys. It’s a word used to group people based on race. Not cool.)? That’s ok. We can talk about something else.

Like the pink ribbon campaign, for instance. Did you know that Think Before You Pink is a thing? Basically, they’re an organization who encourages consumers to…well, do exactly what it says in the name (and I think it’s really telling that they exist at all). It’s oh-so-very fashionable these days to sport pink ribbons on as many things as possible–your shirt, your shoes, your lapel, your water bottle–but please stop telling yourself that your pink ribbon baseball cap is going to be the thing that leads to the cure. Seriously.

Because the companies that are shilling all these pink ribbon products? Yeah, they’re not in it for the health crusade. They’re in it for the sales. They’re in it to get you to “like” their Facebook page, so they can market to you directly in your newsfeed and so that you’ll buy more of their products because they’re “the good people who support breast cancer research”. Read the fine print–it’s unsettling how often you’ll find things like “Company X will donate up to $10,000 from the sale of these limited-edition Pink Ribbon nail polish stickers to an organization that supports breast cancer research”. Notice how they don’t tell you which organization you’re supporting, or how to tell whether they’ve already met the fundraising required to make that donation and now you’re just rewarding them for putting pink ribbons on things. That’s because they’re not in it to be good people. They’re in it to make a buck. Or several bucks. As many bucks as possible.

And don’t even get me started on the “post a selfie with no makeup to support something nebulous about breast cancer!” or “tee-hee, let’s all post a status like ‘I like it on the chair by the door’ which will sound dirty but we’re talking about where we like to keep our purses and the boys will never get it HAR HAR HAR we’re total sixth-graders and also BREAST CANCER, Y’ALL”. Or the “share this image to support the cause du jour”. Or–heaven help me–“one like = one respect!”.

/vomits

What it all comes down to is a raging case of what I’m calling “faux-lanthropy”. It’s no longer about actually doing things to try to make the world a better place–it’s about appearing to do these things. Why get your hands dirty when you can “increase awareness” from the comfort of your sofa? Why donate actual cash dollars when you can donate a piece of your Facebook wall to a photo of an attractive person doing something symbolic? Why write a letter to your government official (pop quiz: name any three of your elected representatives, at any level of government, and think about how you voted in the election in which they won their seat. If you can’t do that, you need to change that immediately) when you can write a context-free status that’s the moral equivalent of a chain letter?

Why be a philanthropist, when you can just look like one? I mean, to be fair, yes, some of these companies are in fact donating actual goods and services to various organizations–but when you’re forecasting $10 million in sales of your latest pink hat and planning to donate a whopping great $10,000 of it…I mean, c’mon. Nobody is impressed with that.

Ugh.

I don’t have answers, really, except to tell you to get up off your tuckus and do something. Mail a check to the organization of your choice (seriously, send it straight to them. Don’t go through a third party, lest you end up accidentally donating to the wrong charity). Host a fund drive, or a rally, or a -thon of some sort. Here at the Buffalo Moon Ranch, we’re hosting a tabletop gaming party (on International Tabletop Day, woohoo!) that’s doubling as a food drive for a local organization. See? It doesn’t have to be a big difficult thing–you can have a party and quietly collect donations in the corner. Easy-peasy.

But for the love of all that’s holy, can we please, please please please, as a favor to me, stop rewarding these [very rude word] people for their faux-lanthropy? Quit applauding them for what is actually just their latest marketing campaign, and start applauding them only when they do something decent for its own sake.

Oh, and tell the Redskins to change their name. Seriously. I cannot understand why we’re still having that conversation.

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There, General Musings and Meanderings

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