Saturday, October 13, 2012


At home on a Sunday, planning to watch Happily Never After on DVD with a young relative who's spending the day here.

Within a minute we've been taken hostage by the evil fairy who's decided that we need to watch several full minutes of the Starlight Children's Foundation's marketing schlubble whether we like it or not.

Scene after scene of sick children - burns to their faces, bodies in casts, scenes from hospital wards. Aw shucks. Sick cute kids. What's not to love? Where's my wallet?

Frankly it sickened me and made me utterly furious. We were unable to proceed to the movie (a kid's movie) and I ended up turning the television off with the DVD rolling until it was over.  Which took several minutes. I kept checking from time to time, only to be confronted with more images before the screen mercifully offered to 'play movie'.

I don't like having horrible scenarios in full colour video forced down my throat when I'm innocently sitting at home schlepping around on a relaxed afternoon with my favourite kid. I particularly don't like the thought of this young child, who owns the DVD, being forced to watch these advertisements every single time she watches her cartoon.

I was almost reluctant to write this post thinking "ooh - sick children - I shouldn't feel like this" but at a gut level I know there's absolutely nothing wrong about my reaction. How dare they FORCE us to watch their advertisement?  How dare they sell these DVDs without advising the buyer that the viewer will not be able to watch the movie without watching the commercial. Every. Single. Time.

Once the movie is rolling, I go to my laptop to read the newspaper. The top right corner has a child with a disfigured face, the advertisement headline screaming at me to do something about it. Once again my reaction is visceral - shock; distress. The ads where they show pictures of poor, abused bears, dogs, cats are just as bad. It's relentless and utterly uncalled for.

It makes me less likely to donate or respond positively to the cheap marketing ploy and even more cynical about fund raising in general, which I already find unimpressive with their backpacker representatives on each corner, lunging when they see you, trying to make you guilty before you have the chance to back away or think of a suitable response. The fact that there's a whole industry out there of fund raising companies who are contracted by the charities makes it even less likely that I'll find the milk of human kindness within me on this particular day. And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.