Ze Frank recently completed a Kickstarter crowdfunding exercise. I helped out responding to his offer of saving one of fifty babies from toy sharks and lions. The photo is here on the blog post, or click on this link to see all of the babies saved.
Is it alright to include this in a discussion about child mortality? Does it present something overly flippant?
In this case, no. I think it is fine. I don’t intend to make light of a serious problem, but only to suggest that all too often our efforts at ‘saving babies’ are not much more involved than with Ze Frank’s stunt. Neither was he addressing this issue of child mortality.
Rather, it is a reminder of what has been referred to as the ‘White Savior Industrial Complex‘ by Teju Cole in an article that is well worth reading (click the title for the link). Addressing complex social need goes beyond the simplicity of the emotionally charged presentations like we see in Kony 2012 or when we are accosted by charity muggers.
If only making change was this easy. It is hard work. That is part of the metaphor involved in the 10 City Bridge Run running stunt: 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries all inside of one month. Much more palatable just to write someone a cheque, but that is not how things get done.
Child mortality is a serious issue. This week I have seen two different approaches, both clever, toward raising awareness and building collaboration which help to save the lives of children.
The first is Kony 2012. Read my previous post Reframing Kony? How to solve the world’s trickiest problems for a critique of that campaign. I think that will continue to emerge as a case study in progress that will divide the activist community as to whether it was the right thing to do.
The second is Ze Frank‘s recent Kickstarter campaign to raise money for his next show. Already well oversubscribed above 250%, it shows the strong following and appeal that he brings to his audience. I subscribed to save plastic babies from the sharks he has inside a toy landscape.
See the video at Kickstarter here or watch below:
Ze Frank is not making a joke out of child mortality, and neither am I.
I am contrasting different methods for creating an effect for positive social change. Is one better than the other, or are they just different? Can one leverage a better result in the long term more than the other? What do you think?