I Think, Therefore I Buy; I Buy, Therefore I am Good
BY KATHRYN LOFTON
It seems inevitable that objects never remain easy. They are (always in America, at the very least) proficiently signified with utility that moves beyond the mere purchase, wandering somewhere near the obscenely moral.
To wit, sent to me by one of our Floridian correspondents, Chad Seales (New College in Sarasota, Florida): http://www.joinred.com/you/calculator.asp
The holiday season is upon us, with all the related efforts to cajole us beyond the gift checklist. Buying, after all, is the only activism we citizens seem to possess (well, that plus listserv babbling and MoveOn.org forwards). I think therefore I buy. I buy, therefore I am good. My own hypothetical purchase of a Motorola Bluetooth Headset, a Joss Stone video ("Tell Me What We're Gonna Do Now"), an iPod Nano, and six Hallmark cards (with iTunes-endorsed "sound," no less) led to the remarkable donation of 170 single-dose (nevirapine) treatments for mother and baby to prevent HIV transmission from mother to child. At 12 cents per treatment, it suggests that my goods cost a little over $20. Or that RED is making a very good sale.
But just when you get nervous, remembering all those 29-cents-per-months-feeds-an-Africa-child-for-a-week campaigns with grim resistance (after all: they're still starving), you turn on the TV, and you see: http://www.joinred.com/ And you figure: I really should send more cards.
P.S. If you're interested in a fantastic exploration of RED's greatest purveyor, Monsieur Bono, see Chad Seales, "Burned Over Bono: U2’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Messiah and His Religious Politic," Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, 14 (Fall 2006): www.usask.ca/relst/jrpc/art14-bono.html