Thursday, December 13, 2012

Paper on Product RED

--> Intro/thesis paragraph:

Humanitarian work has undoubtedly surpassed the realm of NGO’s and international institutions like Oxfam or UNICEF. In fact, Didier Fassin writes that since the late 20th century, a growing number of private groups have emerged to head humanitarian work and fundraising efforts (Fassin 6). The private sphere has increasingly concerned itself with issues of poverty, disease, and the act of helping those less fortunate; in part due to the increasing number of celebrities that are dedicating themselves to causes in order to cast humanitarian work into a different, more attractive light. In particular, U2 front man Bono’s venture, Product (RED), was created in 2006 in order to raise money for The Global Fund, a financer of programs fighting AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis (Pont 711).  This paper will aim to use (RED) as a case study to explore the use of celebrity and elite brands in advertising for humanitarian organizations, and how the goal of driving consumption skews not only the consumer’s perception of the issue and their contribution towards it, but also the altruistic objective of humanitarian aid. Using both Sarah Ahmed’s language of pain and love and Fassin’s discussion of the appropriation of ‘suffering’ in the new humanitarian world order as a framework reveals that private organizations like (RED) use celebrities to glorify humanitarian aid organizations and work. In the course of promoting cause-driven consumption, (RED) perpetuates relations of inequality with the alluring promise to consumers of the attainment of an ideal, thereby largely negating any true acts of morality or altruism.

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