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Posted: Jan 31, 2012 THE MYTH OF THE PINK RIBBON
Source: Trevor Suffield
Director Lea Pool has taken a view seldom seen of the global Pink Ribbon campaign that was created to aid in breast cancer research and support.
What Pool finds is an eye-opening and sometimes angering account of the corporate culture of the Pink Ribbon campaign that appears to have more to do with the health of certain companies’ bottom lines than the health of those with breast cancer.
The film balances all of the goodwill that “walks” and “runs” for the cure promotes with some frank discussion from leading experts and women with Stage IV breast cancer.
Pool, who previously directed the award-winning documentary Gabrielle Roy co-produced by Buffalo Gal Pictures, said in an interview that it was important to show that, at heart, each woman sincerely wanted to do something.
“They want to feel like they can have some power over their own lives and the lives of those close to them and we didn’t want to attack that. I was more interested in being critical of those who profit from breast cancer.”
The film was inspired in-part by Samantha King’s book, Pink Ribbons Inc., - Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy, who is among the experts that Pool interviews.
Marketing is a massive part of the cause with pink ribbons showing up on everything from clothes to kitchen utensils.
All of this, and some of the party-type atmospheres at events, appears to gloss over the fact that breast cancer is a disease that kills every 69 seconds with more than 59,000 in North America annually.
Pool said that while in New York shooting the Revlon Walk, it struck her that she didn’t once see the word ‘cancer.’
“They don’t even want to show that it’s cancer – it’s all erased so that everything is set up to give a feeling of hope. It’s a false image.”
It’s fascinating to find out that some of the largest companies supporting the Pink Ribbon campaign are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to selling products that are linked to causing cancer.
One of the most powerful moments in the film is when Pool interviews a Stage IV League breast cancer support group, including Jeanne Collins.
“You’re the angel of death, you know, you’re the elephant in the room. And they’re learning to live, and you’re learning to die,” said Collins.
One of the most telling moments of how big business controls the campaign is when the originator of the breast cancer ribbon is interviewed and explains how pink was not the original breast cancer ribbon.
Pool said in an interview that she hopes that this film will encourage people to question their actions and “To use their power as women to mobilize and unite, but use it with more reflection and activism.”
“To be more critical and more politically conscious about our actions and to stop thinking that by buying pink toilet paper we’re doing what needs to be done.”
Pink Ribbons, Inc. suggests viewers consider heeding some simple words of advice from the organization Breast Cancer Action: “Think before you pink.”
Special thanks to RoseAnna Schick at RAS Creative for arranging the preview.