i like to eat ice cream. =)
one of the brands of ice cream i used to eat regularly is Ben & Jerry's. B&J ice cream is most well known for its diverse and unique flavors, usually with a lot of liao mixed in the ice cream. i knew i was a B&J nut when I went to see what were the top 10 flavors of B&J ice cream and i realized i have tried all of them except no. 10: vanilla ice cream. my personal recommendations? half-baked (no. 5), new york super fudge chunk (no. 6) and peanut butter cup (no. 9).
if you explore the B&J website, you'll notice than B&J are not just ice cream makers, but activists, and self-confessed "left-leaning liberals". i'm not a "rightist", and hence I don't have anything against B&J by virtue of the fact that they proclaim to be liberals, but sometimes I look at some of the issues they champion, and i wonder if i would support such issues. and if i would not support such issues, then i ask myself, should i even buy their ice cream and help fund such movements which i don't agree on? but if i don't buy their ice cream, what other brand can satisfy my craving for brownies and cookie dough in ice cream? dilemma. this is why it sucks to be a politically aware (and non-left leaning) ice cream lover.
what is this post really about? i was reminded of my B&J boycott-dilemma when i read kitana saying "i'm never buying a dove product again" (after dove's "campaign for real beauty" advertisements). i remember reading when Mr Brown left his job at TODAY, there were some cries to boycott TODAY. recently, Sperenza Nuova urged us to boycott companies which display racist attitudes.
why do we boycott? do boycotts work in Singapore?
according to wikipedia, a boycott is an "expression of protest" or a "means of coercion". will my not buying B&J, or Kitana not buying Dove soap, constitute "means of coercion"? Highly unlikely. There will be too many left-leaning liberals to continue buying B&J, and unless Kitana can get several hundred dove users to agree with her, the sales of Dove products will probably not be affected. (the scenario might be different for these companies identified by Singapore Patriot to be racist, but then again, maybe singaporeans are so apathetic that it is not.)
does this constitute an "expression of protest"? well yes, if you mean "are you expressing your unhappiness by this action?" but maybe not, if you mean "is this action you express a successful protest?" what makes a protest successful? surely, the if guy you protest about does not know about, or does not feel the effects of your protest, then how on earth is your protest useful in any way?
i'm not saying boycotts are not useful or if they will always be unsuccessful. boycotts are about strength in numbers. today, the internet (and the blogosphere) provide powerful tools for the consolidation of such numbers. but currently, singaporeans are either too bochup or kiasee to seriously consider joining in such boycotts. and if i'm quite certain mr Ben and mr Jerry will not even know about my boycott, and will never feel the effect of my boycott (economically or otherwise), then why the heck should i deprive myself of that delicious pint of ice cream?
perhaps, its not about coercion, or about protest. it's not about being able to change things. it's about being true to yourself. i suspect Kitana will say, i can't possibly live with myself if i use a dove product, after that commercial. so even if it doesn't change things one bit, it doesn't matter. it's about me, my values and my beliefs.
as for me, i like to eat ice cream. but a diet is good too.