Sunday, March 23, 2014

How I Cured Cancer With My Face

The campaign has divided opinions, but #NoMakeUpSelfies are a work of modern, pop culture genius.

It's the latest story that has everything you should hate about the world in 2014: mass peer pressure via social media, hashtags, the vomit-inducing words "it's for a good cause", people you know who've never appeared to do a tap in their lives for anyone but themselves crowing about how they're working hard to make a difference (that photo doesn't upload itself, #HardTimes), cancer, curing cancer by doing something that hasn't got a single thing to do with cancer, the backlash from people who then get on their high horse about the whole thing with snarky remarks, and then the resulting fights with people yelling "WELL WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!?" at the latter smart alecs as if the sole objective of charity is for two people to piss on a wall and see who can reach the highest point. Whoever does so, I believe, officially wins. They win charity.

It worked. Of course it did: £2million raised in the UK, €550k in Ireland so far. And the awareness raised is now off the charts. Millions of people are now aware breast cancer exists, as presumably they weren't before. So yay for everybody! We did it guys! Did what? I dunno, but €2.5million is a lot of money that I'm sure somebody that seems qualified will put to good use!

How should you feel about #NoMakeUpSelfies? How should you feel about this latest attempt by the 'Facebewk Massive' of loathsome cunts, who devote their entire lives to doing exactly what their friends and pop stars tell them is the latest 'mad' thing to do, to change the world? Didn't their last attempt to change the world end in people throwing themselves off bridges while plastered drunk because a hashtag told them to?

So they're idiots who shouldn't be listened to on a serious issue under any circumstances, right? That would appear to be the case...

But they've just gone and raised a couple of mill for cancer now? And that's a good thing. Make no mistake about it, thanks to charities that help fund cancer research, millions of families across the world are now getting to spend several more years with their loved ones, more appreciate of them now than ever because the big C (sigh, cancer, not the other one) put their future in jeopardy. You absolutely cannot turn around and say that donating to charity is a bad thing, right?

These men spent your Trocaire money on private jacuzzis.

Well, you can. Sometimes. A lot of these people would probably think I'm talking about the plot of True Detective (that show everyone says is great, but they haven't got the foggiest what's it's all about truth be told) if I mentioned words like Frank Flannery, the PAC and Rehab to them. Because of the notion that charity is always an unquestionably good thing that must never be questioned, something that was bet into us Irish from a young age by being forced to fill bottomless (if seemingly flimsy) Trocaire boxes from a young age, the blanket of charity has since gone on to house some of the world's most merciless conmen.

The #KONY2012 campaign was an interesting case study in teaching the world, en masse, that putting a cute, helpless, black child in a video with violins playing in the background could somehow be used for murkier objectives. It was like a litmus test to see who on your Facebook friends list could spot a propaganda video when they saw it and ignore the sad music and cute toddler saying, "We have to stop this!" in raising a rightfully skeptical eye at the whole thing. Most failed, abysmally. And, were it not a bit sickening, it would've been pretty hilarious too.

If we get to 1,000 likes, he gets shot in the face.

Even in the information age with seemingly everything we needed to know at our fingertips, the Kony con highlighted how easy it was to reach people who didn't care about educating themselves enough to smell a rat, but cared a whole lot about making their friends think they were educated, caring individuals. It was genius: a quick scan of Google and Wikipedia would confirm that Joseph Kony was, in fact, a 'bad man', so the campaign covered all of the background research its marks would do. But it preyed upon the fact that most of us (myself and, let's face it, you included) wouldn't be getting daily updates from the Uganda, so we wouldn't realise that Kony was a relative non-factor there by #2012 and bringing him up would instead sting the locals like walking into an East Germany bar in 1955 looking to have the bants about that Hitler lad.

The truth eventually prevailed, as it always does, and we all casually pretended it had never happened as we do every March 18th when Ireland routinely tries to shove its still disgraceful drinking problem under the carpet.

After licking their wounds for a while, soon the Massive were back out in force and, instead of setting their targets on saving Ugandans, this time they were determined to raise cancer awareness. The collective IQ of their efforts, though, was about the same as the collective IQ of the Daily Mail's readership and so they set about this mass awareness raising campaign by doing things that deliberately made people unaware of what they were doing. Instead of just, you know, doing the helpful thing and giving cancer research companies money, they made vague Facebook posts about the colour of their bras, talking about how they showed their boobs to get out of a speeding ticket, and so on and so forth. At no stage did any of these people stop and think, "Hang on, if the only people who know what this status is about are people that already understand that this is for breast cancer awareness, then I'm not really raising any awareness at all by doing this? Much less actually contributing anything."

But that wasn't the point. The uncomfortable truth of the matter was that they didn't particularly care about making a difference, they only cared about making their friends think that they did. They wanted to show they were 'in' on the joke and, yeah whatever, cancer yada yada. If this was all a genius chain mail effort to show these people up for the false fucks that they are, then bravo to whoever started it. Fantastic work.

Eventually a blind squirrel finds a nut, though, and whoever it is that comes up with these 'campaigns' thought "Right, enough messing, I'm going to tell these sheep that the important bit of this is that they actually donate money."

You know what? I'll donate money if you put the make-up back on love.

The campaign was the same, it played on the attention-seeking vanity of teenage girls (oh what? Many of the friends you know who posted pics without make-up were grown ass women who should have gotten over this childishness years ago? Funny that...) with the no make-up selfies encouraging each girl's friends to go, "wow bbz, u still luk gawjus, no makeup needed!!! xoxoxoxoxo" so, sure enough, it pushed the right buttons. Then people uploaded a picture of their donation receipt to warn off anyone from ever thinking they did need the make-up after all. "Don't you dare think I'm not amazing!"

It's a fantastic idea. It takes every horrible trait of the human race and combines them all into a force for good. So these people still out themselves as desperate, needy, followers...but there's good work being done for cancer all the same. No complaints here.

Sure it would be a much better world if it didn't take this kind of subversive trick to force people to not be so fucking self-involved for a second and help others. But that's not how it works. Those out there who quietly donate their time and money to the needs of others are in a pitiful minority.

"If you take off this cunty hat, you'll see that I have 'I care more than you' shaved into my head..."

We're a selfish species, it's written into our DNA, and even people like me with the intelligence to realise this aren't immune. Ultimately we're all just animals whose sole purposes in life are to maintain the planet, breed and die. The only thing that keeps us from that harsh realisation is the fact we have endorphins, happy buttons, within us that we need to be pushed else we all go and top ourselves. And, like it or not, 'the knowledge within yourself that you're a good person' is not enough of a high for us endorphin junkies. We need our friends and family to pat us on the head and tell us "Good boy!!!" like we're fucking dogs for every tiny act of selflessness we engage in (think of the Friends episode where Joey and Phoebe argued if there was such a thing as a selfless good deed). Even better if it's a digital dog biscuit in the form of a like or retweet so the entire world can see how amazing we are. Like I said, I'm not immune. My little sister recently got told by an old schoolteacher of mine that she should be proud to have a brother like me (for my own bit of extra-curricular activity) and my first instinct was, "Hearing stuff like that makes it all worthwhile." By my own standards, it shouldn't. But god damn these endorphins are addictive.

So no, you're not wrong for feeling that #NoMakeUpSelfies are self-indulgent tripe masquerading as good deeds, because they clearly are. The reality is, though, that they did make a difference. And any future effort to do the same will likely be equally sickening and self-indulgent and feel inherently wrong despite how right it's supposed to. Your best bet is to stop fighting it and either just go into blanket ignore mode or join in and munch on your endorphins like a good little doggy.

Rick Nash is a former pro-wrestler who currently DJs for hire, makes piss-poor sports bets and runs WWE-related events. Altogether, he's a real bum, and you should be ashamed of yourself if you thought this piece was in any way insightful or entertaining. But still, follow him on Twitter and stuff.

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