It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which means get ready to have your visual field spammed with the color pink for the next 30 days or so. Breast cancer is the poster child of causes, a near-ubiquitous presence in our environment now; there may in fact be more breast cancer awareness chotchkies than actual breasts in the world at this point.
A study in successful merchandising, breast cancer awareness (BCA) is practically its own brand. It subverts other brands, a parasite creating attention for itself by morphing someone else’s product into its image. Now you can have a BCA shade of blush in a BCA-themed compact, stowed away in your limited edition BCA designer handbag. A special BCA latte starts your day in the morning, and a BCA wrapper encloses your limited-time-only fast-food BCA lunch. Enjoy pink BCA cocktails with your girlfriends ahead of a concert; before you step out, apply your BCA shade of lipstick and don’t forget your tickets, which are pink this month in support of BCA!
In case you weren’t aware, there is this disease called breast cancer and it’s terrible.
The trouble with causes is that you can’t really care – and I mean actually care, not just pretend to care in polite society –unless the cause has affected your personally and deeply. For most people, their experience with tragedy is anecdotal, and these are not people you can convince to open their wallets. You don’t pay $300 to see a band you’ve only heard of, and you don’t give money to help others solve problems you don’t have. When you do that, it’s called charity, and most people will participate in it.
But causes are another matter entirely. Causes are created by people with first world problems appalled at the intrusion of nature with its random mortal edicts. At first they are just bizarre little social clubs comprised of survivors and their sycophants, but if the cause plays its cards just right it becomes an obligatory fashion trend.
And when a cause has reached the point where NFL players are wearing bright pink during league games in support of it? Well, a cause like that can teach fascists a thing or two.