From the Executive Director: Pink Ribbons, Inc. On the Big Screen

By Karuna Jaggar, Executive Director

As a parent of two young children, I don’t get to the movies nearly as much as I’d like. And yet I’ve seen the Canadian documentary Pink Ribbons, Inc. nearly half a dozen times—and every time it reignites me about this work in a different way.

With the film landing in movie theaters across the country this month, I’ve been hearing regularly from folks about their reactions to the film. I’m enjoying the conversations among and between my diverse network and community including the discussion we had together when BCAction hosted 200 San Francisco Bay Area members and friends at our “sneak peek” film benefit on May 31st at Laurent Studio in San Francisco.

 What I love about Pink Ribbons, Inc. is that it stirs both our emotions and our intellect. 

As happens at every showing of the film I’ve attended, including our sneak peek, there are many tears in the audience. The film is unique and powerful in large part because it gives women living with metastatic disease space to share how they feel betrayed, diminished, and ignored by the current messages and priorities of the mainstream breast cancer movement. All of us who’ve had breast cancer, or care about someone who has had the disease, can’t help feeling stirred up, touched, and angry about how little progress we have made in addressing issues pertaining to metastatic disease.  

Always bringing us to the point, the insightful and incisive Barbara Brenner, BCAction’s former executive director, leads the call in the film with her characteristic sharp wit and powerful analysis. She, with other leaders in the field, pull back the pink curtain on the mainstream breast cancer movement. The film tackles head-on many of the hypocrisies of cause marketing, the corporate exploitation of breast cancer, and frequently overshadowed—and sometimes deliberately buried—truths about environmental links to breast cancer. And it does so squarely placing the responsibility on the corporations who are making so much money from the disease rather than vilifying individual women with good intentions who choose to do breast cancer walks and runs.

Let’s face it; people come to the pink ribbon from very different places. For many women it’s the easiest and most accessible way to feel like we are “doing something” in the face of a disease that claims the lives of too many. Whatever your starting point, the film helps ask the right questions and provokes powerful responses.

 Many people have asked about the connection between BCAction, Pink Ribbons, Inc., and our Think Before You Pink® campaign. From the beginning, Breast Cancer Action consulted on and was a resource for this documentary made by the Canadian Film Board (under the guidance of executive producer, Ravida Din). The film is based on Samantha King’s book of the same title and heavily features our Think Before You Pink program, including highlights of several of our past campaigns including our Milking Cancer video in its entirety. Today we are partnering with the US distributor in getting the film into communities around the country. And now’s your chance to get the full Pink Ribbons Inc. Action Package – click here.

 At film festivals and opening nights in theaters throughout the US, we are working with our members to arrange speakers and supply BCAction materials and toolkits to complement the film. Our Think Before You Pink Toolkit is the perfect companion to the film as it offers powerful ways to effect change and lays out how each and every one of us can play a role in making this change happen. The toolkit is a decade in the making, and the product of wisdom from so many of you, including some who are no longer with us. The toolkit is our answer to many people’s post-film viewing reaction of “What do I do now, if not a walk or run?” Click here to get your own free copy, and spread the words to your friends.  

Whether loved or hated, Pink Ribbons, Inc. is a conversation starter. And there’s no question we need deep, honest, fearless discussions about how to address and end the breast cancer epidemic. We need radical conversations that they get us to the root of things—the root causes of this disease, the roots of why we aren’t making more progress to end the breast cancer epidemic. 

And true to its reputation, this issue of The Source contains critical information about our ongoing campaigns to end pinkwashing, our advocacy to stop corporate ownership of our genes, the importance of a precautionary approach to health that becomes possible with the Affordable Care Act, the necessity of a social justice approach to science as well as educational outreach work, our take on recent treatment news, and member perspective on health inequities.

Thank you for being a longstanding voice in shaping the conversation and joining us to challenge, and change, the status quo.

This entry was posted in Articles.