Feature documentary film PINK RIBBONS, INC. seeks a new way to talk about breast cancer

Last October, author Samantha King (Pink Ribbons, Inc.) wrote a blog post for us about the ways in which breast-cancer marketing has now become a year-round industry (What’s next — Pink Cigarettes for the Cure?, Oct. 2010).

This year, Pink Ribbons, Inc., has become a feature documentary film by award-winning Quebec filmmaker Léa Pool. The film premiered in mid-September at the Toronto International Film Festival to a packed house, and most recently received a favorable review in Variety magazine. The film asks the overarching question: “Each year, millions of dollars are raised in the name of breast cancer, but where does this money go and what does it actually achieve?”

For more information about this fascinating film, check out the official trailer and clips from its participants below. You can also scroll down to read an excerpt from Pink Ribbons, Inc.‘s introduction.

Official trailer:

The film’s producer, Ravida Din, sees a need to change the way we talk about breast cancer:

Here’s a clip with Barbara Ehrenreich and Barbara Brenner (of Breast Cancer Action), who discuss the changing face of activism:


From Pink Ribbons, Inc., by Samantha King:
While the shifting terrain of feminist politics in the last two decades of the twentieth century has been quite thoroughly researched, the same cannot be said of an equally important context for understanding the trajectory of the breast cancer movement; that is, the reinvigorated interest in organized giving that emerged within American society during the same period. A primary concern of Pink Ribbons, Inc. is thus to dissect the emergence of the current preoccupation with consumer-oriented philanthropic solutions to social problems, examine the concomitant appearance of a plethora of new techniques of soliciting corporate and individual donations of time and money, and analyze the explosion of discourse on the subject of charity. Although the argument presented here reveals that these developments have not escaped meaningful contestation and resistance, in Pink Ribbons, Inc. I argue that, overall, they have helped fashion a far-reaching constriction of public life, of the meaning of citizenship and political action, and of notions of responsibility and generosity. …

There has been a proliferation of academic and popular writing on the emergence of the breast cancer movement in the United States since the early 1990s. This work has been crucial to our understanding of the relationship between breast cancer activism and the changing medical management of the disease, the policy changes and increased research funding that have been won as a result of the movement’s activities, and the more open attitude toward the disease that it has helped engender. Although my central concern is with the “philanthropic arm” of the breast cancer movement and the broader culture of giving it has helped shape, one of my main contentions is that, for better or worse, the history of the movement as a whole, and its successes and failures, cannot be understood apart from the corporate-driven, consumer-oriented philanthropic culture that emerged in conjunction with it.


Samantha King is associate professor of physical and health education and women’s studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
Find more information about Pink Ribbons, Inc. on our website.

Leave a Reply