Documentary review: ‘Pink Ribbons, Inc.’

Pink Ribbons Inc.

We used to march in the streets: now you’re supposed to run for a cure, or walk for a cure, or jump for a cure, or whatever it is . . . the effect of the whole pink ribbon culture was to drain and deflect the kind of militancy we had as women who were appalled to have a disease that is epidemic and yet that we don’t even know the cause of. – Barbara Ehrenreich, writer and social critic (“Pink Ribbons, Inc.”)

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people raise millions of dollars during corporate-sponsored “Pink Ribbon” events and campaigns, hoping that these funds will help cure breast cancer. Still, every year, 59,000 North American women die from the disease. And no cure is in sight.

If you have ever taken part in a “Pink Ribbon” campaign and/or are curious to know where the money goes after the ‘show’ is over, watch Pink Ribbons, Inc.

Shot in Canada and the United States, Director Léa Pool’s documentary exposes the politics of breast cancer philanthropy through interviews of experts, authors, activists, medical professionals, and leading players in breast cancer fundraising and marketing. The result is a scathing foray into the culture of pity and guilt cleverly put into place by greedy companies whose sole purpose is to take advantage of people’s emotions — and encourage consumption of dangerous products in the background.

Pink Ribbons, Inc. also features insightful and uplifting testimonies from women with breast cancer who have grown tired of the “survivor” label. A label that implies maintaining an optimistic outlook at all times and participating in what Samantha King, the author of Pink Ribbons, Inc. – Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy, calls the “tyranny of cheerfulness”.

Ultimately, Pink Ribbons, Inc. calls for accountability, while raising important questions about the current claims regarding breast cancer research. But most importantly, it forces us to take a hard look at our actions and the legacy we want to leave behind.

Pink Ribbons, Inc. is a necessary documentary for our times.

To watch the documentary, visit


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