You may have heard about AIDS. You may have wished you could do something about it. Well, great news - you can go on doing what you've always been doing and wonderful companies like H&M will save the world for you. All you have to do is buy their quality products. "Designers Against AIDS" joins initiatives like the RED campaign (critiqued here by my lovely friend leighcia) which bundle virtue with their products to superficially fight the world's great ills.
Everybody wins. The designers get their names advertised and associated with a "good cause." H&M gets the revenue spike associated with a successful campaign. You get to feel great about yourself for your altruism.
And those suffering from AIDS? They don't actually get anything. It took some digging on the web site, but I eventually found something which told me goals more concrete than "fighting AIDS," though not much more concrete. A whopping 25% of these proceeds go to "raise awareness and prevent the spread of AIDS worldwide."
I wouldn't be surprised at all if advertising for this campaign qualifies as "raising awareness."
Their other efforts appear to be centered on getting people to use condoms, which puzzles me. Do they not consider research for a cure a worthwhile investment? Do they think that since those who have already contracted HIV are going to die anyway, it's not worth caring for them? Both of these areas seem at least as important to me as preventing the spread of the disease (and I imagine that it's controversial how much good condom campaigns actually do). Their exclusion seems to betray some hypocrisy that I can't put my finger on.
So, for all of its noise, the campaign actually does very little more than repeat a message harped on since middle school to wealthy young Westerners.
Meaningless as the stated goals of these campaigns may be, I would go as far as to say their unstated goals are actually sinister. They seek to establish corporations as the agents for moral action in our society, rather than encouraging people to actually care about the problems and actually do something with their lives to solve them. They are a sedative, deepening complicity in an existence centered around consumption and self-gratification. They are poison.
Ezekiel speaks well of such false prophets (and false profits?):
Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, 'Peace!' when there is no peace--and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar*--*Other translations render "untempered mortar" as "whitewash."
say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down.
Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, 'Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?' "
Therefore thus says the Lord God: "I will cause a stormy wind to break forth in My fury; and there shall be a flooding rain in My anger, and great hailstones in fury to consume it.
So I will break down the wall you have plastered with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be uncovered; it will fall, and you shall be consumed in the midst of it. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.
P.S. H&M is also behind a gigantic photo of a reclining and nearly nude woman above the Philly Car Share pod at 21st and Chestnut - nothing like filling a public space with an image damaging to men and women alike. They also appear to have a penchant for giant murals (like this giant Madonna in New York) which are actually ads - nothing like mixing advertising with art. I hate this company.