There’s something about fighting cancer lately that makes people want to take off their pants. First it was The Underwear Affair, a North American run and walk for “cancers below the waist”, then it was “Get Your Butt Seen”, a Canadian awareness campaign for colorectal screening.
Now it’s panstless supermodels for “Stand Up 2 Cancer”:
That’s Heidi Klum, the veteran German model. In the press release, she makes fun of her Project Runway catchphrase, ““If you don’t want to be OUT, you can be IN by joining me and the Stand Up to Cancer movement in the fight against cancer. Let’s all say Auf Wiedersehen to cancer together!”
While cancer “awareness” can be considered slacktivist and vague, this campaign at least has a substantial fundraising element. Copies of Heidi’s sweatshirt are available online for $45 USD, with proceeds going towards the initiative’s goal “to support collaborative cancer research by multidisciplinary “Dream Teams” of scientists.”
“We’re deeply grateful for Heidi’s support,” said Laura Ziskin, the Stand Up To Cancer co-founder who produced SU2C’s two major broadcast fundraising specials. “Not only is she a gorgeous model for our sweatshirt, but she’s drawing on her beauty to raise awareness for cancer, in one of the most-read magazine issues of the year. Heidi understands first-hand the hell cancer wreaks in families and friends. We hope others will be inspired by Heidi to take a stand for their loved ones and join the fight against cancer. Purchasing one of these sweatshirts is a very simple way to do that, as all of the net proceeds go directly to fund research.”
Stand Up 2 Cancer is a star-studded affair, having hosted a TV special in 2008 and 2010, and with a fair bit of celebrity power behind it, such George Clooney, Vanessa Hudgens, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Diane Sawyer.
I try not to be cynical, especially as someone who has also lost loved ones to cancer. But whenever I see this kind of effort I am reminded — perhaps unfairly — of conservative humourist PJ O’Rourke’s damnation of “Live Aid” concert back in the ‘80s:
“Charity entails sacrifice. Yet the Live Aid performers are sacrificing nothing. Indeed, they’re gaining public adulation and a thoroughly unmerited good opinion of themselves. … The performers donate their time, which is wholly worthless. Big corporations donate their services, which are worth little enough. Then the poor audience pledges all the contributions and buys all the trash with money it can ill afford.”
I am not this negative by any means, but those words struck a chord with me as a teenager, and remain as a healthy voice of skepticism to balance my natural idealism.
What do you think?