Wednesday, September 2, 2009


This is a trend I've observed in my studies of the rhetoric which accompanies various social movements.

In particular, my study of those that are in these particular classes.

You see, I've had two classes with the same professor, who is an academic powerhouse who I admire very much. She specializes in the field of rhetoric utilized by various kinds of social movements for the purpose of persuading politicians, citizens, "etc." to seeing the light and joining their particular sides on certain issues and campaigns. The first class I had with this prof concerned social movements that focused on the vocalization and explanation of pain and how various organizations worked to use examples of it in order to persuade funding out of various sources.

What typically happens for most of these movements (the ones that gain marginal success, anyway) is that they end up falling under a vague image or name, which can then serve as a kind of brand, which various corporations can then use in order to market their own brands. An example of this is the RED campaign, which joined a wide variety of major corporations together under the promise that if a consumer chose to buy the specially marketed RED products being offered (ie: The Gap sells red shirts with vague outlines of Africa that say "RED" across the breast or Mac sells RED iPods), the company would then donate 10% of THAT PARTICULAR ITEM'S SALE to the RED campaign, which would then go towards the fight against AIDS in Africa. Sounds good in theory, right?

Not if you consider that it's simply adding a 90% profit to the company producing the product, even though the consumer bought the product intending to directly benefit the charity. This is particularly relevant to the notion of an iPod's longevity, because it means that the consumer has chosen to disregard what is typical of consumeristic individualism in an attempt to aid the RED campaign (ie: they really wanted the green one, but the red one meant that they would be doing a little bit of good). In other words, the consumer is going to have that red iPod for a long time, whether or not the campaign survives this particular form of itself (or simply survives longer than a year or two).

Essentially, this means that the consumer has chosen to act as a propaganda piece for the organization.

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