My ire for the gross bombardments known as awareness campaigns began with the mass-marketing of breast cancer. It’s no surprise that it’s so popular; it’s a sexy disease. That little pink ribbon was EVERYWHERE, from cereal boxes and key chains to cute little bumper stickers pronouncing the driver’s desire to “Save the Tatas.” I can understand the humor injected into such a dire and life-threatening disease, but the notion of shouting it from my rear bumper to every schmuck that ends up behind it seems just ridiculous. I don’t decorate my bags or car with baubles and stickers advertising my vehement opposition to the common cold (despite having suffered from that disease infinitely greater than any cancer).
Now, I can see the allure of stickers and the like, especially when they promise “$1 of every purchase goes to fighting X cancer.” Let’s break that down that statement: “fighting” the cancer. This makes people feel like they’re doing something, just by throwing some money in the Wal-Mart till. Saying that only a dollar or such and such an amount from your purchase goes to the cause is ridiculous, and makes prolonging research profitable. If your dedication to eradicating disease stops at a dollar for a bottle of Palmolive, then you should probably reevaluate your priorities.
I know that I’ve been focusing of disease awareness for most of this (not without good reason), but I am obligated to mention m the crisis areas like Darfur and the Sudan. Yes, it’s all very unfortunate that people in far-off lands are killing each other either out of desperation, for political reasons, for control of resources, or because they don’t have cable. I could care less, however, that Bono wants it to stop, or any other celebrity for that matter. These people are entertainers; their job is to entertain. When they become ambassadors, UN peacekeepers, or private military contractors planning to intervene, THEN I might find myself interested. People in the positions I just listed are on the ground in such troubled regions trying to at least put a dent in the bloodshed, and often getting added to the body count; Bono writes checks.
It doesn’t matter what cause you’re behind or however noble your intentions, cash is king. Awareness campaigns cost money, and if sponsors can’t foot the bill, you will. The donations you send are parted in several ways, with significant percentages going to “overhead” and what little is left eventually making it to research labs or relief efforts. If you really care about such causes, the best thing to do is a little research of your own. Look into major research institutions to see which among them is researching your disease of choice, then throw whatever money at them you would have otherwise wasted on promotions or key chains. The Red Cross is almost always a first responder to most natural and man-made disasters, so they are always a wise investment. Really, people, I’m not against curing diseases or helping people. Quite the contrary; my family is steeped in the medical field, and I value medical research and application highly. What people need to realize is that cutting out the middle men at rallies and 10K runs, means more money for the people doing the work. Some may argue that, without these campaigns, funding for these efforts would dry up almost entirely. It is possible, but it would certainly reveal how much people really care about disease and disasters.
AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, The Sudan, Cerebral Palsy, Darfur, Chile, SIDS, Autism, Drunk Driving, Down Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Haiti, Ugliness, Halitosis, Lung Cancer, Brain Cancer, Butt Cancer, Boob Cancer, Face Cancer, Wrist Cancer, Spousal Abuse, and Teenage Pregnancy; every one of these subjects has had an awareness campaign to increase your awareness of their existence. They flood the airwaves with inspirational advertisements asking for donations, or shower the country with flyers proclaiming 10K runs, or a “race for the cure.” These events gather hundreds, if not thousands of people together, creating a fun and uplifting atmosphere full of hope and love and whatever. The best part is the people printing those flyers and selling that airtime are making bank. As for races, I can tell you that the only thing that racing cures is fat, and that’s why awareness campaigns are getting the BANHAMMER.