Awhile back I posted on a Wired article featuring the ‘New Environmentalists’ who were selling conern about the environment as a fashion accesory.
Today on Kester Brewin’s blog, I found a May 16 post on Bono’s ‘Brand Red’ label, which deals with many of the same issues. Kester called it the ‘commodification of poverty.’ A couple quotes:
As you know, I’m a fan of the concept of ‘gift’, and this idea seems to
me to be anti-gift. We buy the phone because we are buying into a
brand. Not because we really care. If the only way we can get people to
help those in dire need is to have to offer them something cool in
return for their pennies, then I think there’s something very wrong.
If environmentalism, or aid, is simply a fashion statement, it will go
out of fashion like bell bottoms and floral shirts. And this is the
problem. Brand Red is a brand. And the companies involved are involved
to make money, not to give it away. The want to align themselves to
something that is ‘cool’.
There are a few comments on the post, too, that are helpful. What do you think? Is this the commodification of poverty? Is buying a new ‘Brand Red’ shirt the best way to fight poverty, or should we perhaps instead spend the $20 on fighting poverty, and skip the fashion statement? Or is Bono just being a realist, realizing that people won’t fight poverty unless it’s fashionable and they can buy into the brand?
UPDATE: There are some more perspectives on this at Jonny Baker’s blog.