Pink Ribbons, Inc.
When my parents were a young couple, another couple in their group was going to get married. The night before the wedding the prospective groom, Luther, came to my father to express his trepidation. His main complaint was, “but she is so unreasonable!”
This film is filled with interviews with angry, unreasonable, ungrateful women. So many, in fact, that I don’t have space to adequately deal with the wrong-headedness of all their complaints, so two will have to suffice. The thinking in these two examples is outrageous but the examples epitomize the entire film. I do want to say here that I have done no research on their claims, and just take the women at their word.
The film consists mostly of interviews with people who either have breast cancer or are somehow involved. All are extremely critical. This film can have little or no positive effect on the crusade to help breast cancer research, which everyone should support.
Barbara Brenner, executive director of Breast Cancer Action, complains about American Express in 2002 agreeing to donate a penny each time an American express card was used between September and December. This really infuriated Barbara, who complained that even if a card member spent $1,000 on one purchase, American Express would still only donate a penny for that one use, dismissing such a donation as less than worthless. The following, however, are facts that apparently never entered Brenner’s brain. As of the end of 2009 (I don’t have the number for 2002), there were 48.9 million American Express credit cards in circulation in theUnited States. Rounding that out to 50 million cards outstanding, let’s assume that each cardholder uses his or her card on an average of once a week (which is probably a gross under-assumption). That would mean that American Express would be donating 50 million pennies each week, which translates to $500,000 a week. Over the four month period it would amount to $6 million. But let’s be conservative; let’s say that only 10% of cardholders used their cards once a week. That would mean that Amex would donate 5 million pennies each week which still translates to $50,000 per week! This is the amount of money at which Barbara is thumbing her nose. But Barbara says she was so incensed and criticized Amex so vociferously that, as she proudly claims, she “put a stop to it,” apparently meaning that the program was terminated by Amex. Barbara’s criticism displays chilling ignorance, and obviously lost a large charitable donation through her haughty contempt.
The NFL’s pink campaign, in which all the NFL players wore pink shoes or something pink on their uniforms one week to raise awareness of breast cancer, was severely criticized by Samantha King, the author of Pink Ribbons, Inc. Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy, upon which this film is based and who is also interviewed at length. I have been critical of the NFL’s program because prostate cancer is as much a threat to men as breast cancer is to women and it seemed to me that if the NFL, a league of men appealing mainly to men, wanted to promote cancer awareness, it should do so for prostate cancer rather than breast cancer. But these angry women are having none of that. King claims that the NFL was looking for ways to rehabilitate its image because several of its players had had trouble with the law, and it had discovered that women made up a meaningful part of its audience, so the NFL was “interested in maintaining and extending their (sic) female audience.” Of course, she cites no authority for this, but her criticism is that the NFL didn’t care about breast cancer, that the NFL’s campaign was merely to interest women in football. King doesn’t care that the NFL’s campaign against breast cancer got national attention on the most popular television show inAmerica, seen several times a week by tens of millions of people. No, she summarily rejects it because the NFL’s alleged motive, in her opinion, is not pure. Only a fool would refuse the publicity offered by the NFL (free!) because the NFL wasn’t sufficiently eleemosynary in its motivation, but that’s what King does.
Many of the women interviewed were from a small group with stage IV cancer, which means that they don’t have long to live, so their negative outlook is arguably understandable (although their lack of appreciation for the work done and money donated is not). However, director Léa Pool should have protected them by editing their shortsighted, uninformed criticisms.
There is a bare scintilla of a good point in this film (to wit, querying how effectively the money raised is used), but its credibility is destroyed by the arrogance, ignorance, bias, and unreasonableness of the women interviewed. They are vociferous in criticizing the people who are out there fighting in the arena, but they don’t come up with one positive suggestion.
In President Kennedy’s press conference on November 8, 1961, he was asked by a woman correspondent, “Mr. President … What have you done for women according to the promises of the Platform?” Kennedy replied, “Well, I’m sure we haven’t done enough (loud laughter).” After watching this film, it’s pretty clear that not much has changed.
If you want to see a good film that doesn’t rely on childish superheroes and/or special effects, avoid American films. That’s what I’ve done when I can and the result is that I get to see fine, well-written and directed little films like this one that starts out as a mystery and slowly develops into a thought-provoking roman à clef.
David Rousseau (Jean-Paul Rouve) is a blocked thriller writer who finds himself in the small French town ofMouthe, the coldest village inFrance, on a “no man’s land” near the Swiss border. There he comes across the death of a gorgeous blonde celebrity, Candice Lecoeur (Sophie Quinton), which is called a suicide. But that doesn’t make sense to David, who embarks on research into her death to write a book about it. As he tries to dig into it, he’s met with stubborn resistance from the local gendarme.
Writer/Director Gérald Hustache-Mathieu does a masterful job in creating this interesting mystery, getting wonderful performances from Rouve and Quinton. The wintertime cinematography (Pierre Cottereau) adds a lot to the film.
The film contains full frontal male nudity and some female nudity. In French. Opens on June 8 for one week at the Nuart in Los Angeles.