||[Dec. 28th, 2010♥09:07 am]
You know, I get that even charitable and rights advocacy groups are manipulative. I guess even the legitimate ones feel they have to be in order to overcome the billions of advertising dollars, slanted reporting of the issues and general corporate cocksuckery that seeks to hide or spin unpleasant truths. And so for many years now, I've taken most charities' ploys to instill and manipulate guilt in people with a grain of salt. I'm acutely aware that most of the problems they are trying to address are very real, and very miserable - but we in First World nations are often not exposed to the realities of those problems, making them easy to ignore.
It's called "putting a human face" on the story. So people are dying of starvation and cholera and god knows what else in some dustbin of a country somewhere on the other side of the world. I don't personally -know- any of those people. I can't -see- them suffering in front of my face. So why should I care? That's a pretty standard, natural reaction. Human brains are just made that way - we're very good at responding to real, tangible crises happening right in front of us. But the further away and less personally connected we are to the problems, the less we care.
So that's where the charitable manipulation comes in. And I'm not even saying it's completely negative - you need something powerful to break through people's apathy and complacency and get them to devote a little mental bandwidth to thinking - and hopefully doing something about - the problem.
But when is it too much?
I've been bombarded by these kinds of images all my life. I used to be really sensitive to it when I was a kid. The commercials about the starving kids in Africa always made me burst into tears. My parents would chide me for being silly and crying over nothing. Of course it wasn't nothing. But neither was the carefully choreographed and heavily edited advertisement I was watching the total, honest truth. Like just about everything in life, the truth lies somewhere in between.
All of the charity scandals that happened through the late eighties and early nineties (and even continuing on into this decade) made me far more cynical about large charitable organizations and their true motives. I really began to feel extremely used when I would watch these sorts of commercial after that - even more so than the used feeling I would get from product advertisement. Charitable advertising, with the kind of shocking and disturbing images they sometimes use, to me is even dirtier than all the shameless corporate plugs in the world put together. When someone is trying to sell me something, they're usually appealing to my own self interest in some way. Hey, buy this product! You'll look cool! You'll be popular! You'll attract a hot girl / boyfriend! You'll be the envy of your peers! If I decide to buy the product and none of those things happen, which they never do - I have nothing but my own stupidity and conceit to blame.
But when a charity commercial uses the poverty and misery of animals or people to produce guilt and shame in me in order to take my money - and then pisses it away either through inefficiency or open fraud, that's really, really low. That's like, sub-cockroach. There isn't a word for how low that is.
Fraud among charities is rampant - even the last bastion of trust-able charities, the one whose goddamned fifty-pound orange box I would carry about my neck every Halloween - Unicef - has been guilty of fraud, mismanagement and waste on many occasions. So what do you do? You want to make a difference, but how does throwing money at the problem help? Especially when the people charged with taking your money and doing something helpful with it are often criminals themselves.
This whole thought process came about because this morning I witnessed - and I say this with absolutely no hyperbole - the most horrifying image I've ever seen in my life. No movie, no nightmare, nothing I've ever imagine was this awful.
It was a PETA video showing some of the fur-farming techniques in China, where apparently there are no animal cruelty laws.
There was some kind of creature in a bin on top of some other carcasses - you couldn't even tell what kind of animal it was anymore, but it looked disturbingly like a dog - with no skin left. It had been turned completely inside out. Body, face, everything. And the fucking thing was still alive. It lifted it's head and looked at the camera, then sort've rolled back onto the pile.
I can't talk about it. I can't write about it. I can't even think about it. I just... can't. For my own survival. Because if I give that give that image any more room in my mind I'll lose my grip. I cried - so hard. So long. I couldn't even look at my own dog's face for hours after seeing it. I know I'll never, ever be able to forget it.
I didn't need to see that. I didn't want to see it. There was no warning - no disclaimer, no hint of what was going to be shown in the video. The first frame of the video was a cute little bunny. I pressed play - and any hope I might still have had for the redemption of humankind was gone.
And for what? Does it really matter how money I throw at PETA? They have no say in the policies of a sovereign, foreign nation. There is literally fuck all any of us can do. Except not wear fur. Which I already find completely filthy and wouldn't do even if I could afford it. So thanks, PETA. Thanks for showing me the face of pure, hellish pain that I can't forget and can't do anything about. Thanks for giving me a feeling of hope-and-powerlessness. Really kick starts my day.
I was going to put up the link - but I'm not going to subject anyone else to that.