Come on, does anyone care to discuss ethics or philosophy of using images of the poorest people in the world to promote a 80 billion a year industry? Perhaps we should rename this forum, Ethics and Philosophy through the eyes of Harvard Buisness School Graduates.
I don't know this particular work of Salgados, so bear with me. I mentioned in a previous post that he worked for coffee growers early in his career. I'm not sure who owns this work, and it may very well belong to the coffee growers, and Salgado has less control over its use than most of his other work. That said, I find it troubling that a coffee company wants to use "happy proletariat" images to promote their coffee, and as a regular coffee drinker it's a reminder of just how much my life is, in fact, more comfortable becuase others must do back breaking work.
I don't want to dwell on the coffee images, though, because I don't know them. I admire Salgado's work, and his committment. I think he is a brilliant photographer, and shows the workers, the displaced, and the poor with enormous dignity and symapathy.
Unfortunately, he can't edit his images more tightly, and publishes huge, outrageously, expensive books, and waters down his own message. I find this a little frustrating. And honestly, for a communist, he's shown himself to be quite the entrepreneur.
Has Salgado exploited his subjects? Has the coffee company? Would we have a better understanding of the bean pickers without his work? How do the bean pickers feel about it all? Anyone ask them? I'm starting to go around in circles in my mind here, and I don't have the answers. I'm just glad the work is there despite the quandary over it's use.
I'm having a real hard time understanding your position. People have been drinking coffee for hundreds of years. For years, importers cared little for the conditions under which the coffee was grown, harvested and processed for shipment to consumers.
Originally Posted by Saganich
More recently, Illy apparently, and Starbucks for certain, have taken a strong stand as marketers of coffee products to support sustainable agriculture and fair market practices. They are doing something positive in their industry to ensure that workers share in the profits of the industry.
I think you need to get off the "holier than thou" podium now.
And, no, I don't work for either of these firms, or in anything related to the coffee industry. In fact, I only occassionally drink coffee. Oh, and no, I do not have a Harvard MBA (nor any MBA) - but if I did, what would be wrong with that?
Illy has taken a strong stand as marketers of coffee products to support sustainable agriculture and fair market practices. They are doing something positive in their industry to ensure that workers share in the profits of the industry.
Salgado, in his long series of world workers, made the same for coffee workers as imporant and right paied part of Illy coffee line of production.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Do not drink too much espresso, you could be roo nervous :-)
Before you talk about Salgado and coffee there's lots more to be said about him first. His "straight" documentary work is much criticized to begin with. Not so much now, as the major body of his work is well behind him, but certainly back in the day.
Suzanne, most of what you use and consume is a product of the back breaking work of others. I won't defend a company I know nothing about (and is that website a mess or what?) but at least they're making an effort to show people who do the work. It may be a big piss take and Salgado is certainly going to get them attention, but I don't see many clothing companies bringing cameras into sweat shops.
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Maybe we should all boycott coffee so there is no further exploitation of coffee field workers.
Originally Posted by ongarine
Maybe we should all stop wearing clothes, so there is no further exploitation of garment workers.
Maybe we should all stop staying in hotels, so there is no further exploitation of hotel cleaning crews.
Maybe we should all stop eating in restaurants, so there is no further exploitation of restauraunt workers.
Maybe we should all stop eating fruit and vegetables, so there is no further exploitation of migrant farm workers.
Maybe we should all stop hiring gardeners and maids, so there is no further explotation...
Isn't there a chance that the folks at the "botton of the food chain" are actually happy to have this work. Poverty with a job and pay sure seems better than poverty without.
(I'm sipping a mug of Starbucks coffee as I write and sincerely thank the coffee pickers for their contribution. I do wish that they had better options in life, but I hope they are making the best of their situation and I commend them for the hard work they put in to support their families, etc.)
Brian, I agree with what you say. But for many people they have no idea (or don't care at all) where the products and services they use come from. They go through life unaware of the circumstances of anyone else.
There will always be differences in the quality of peoples lives, but at the very least it would be nice to know there is some thought of others (through tools such as documentary work) and those who would try and make a difference can in fact do so.
Yes Stephen, when people don't see those who labor for us they tend to "pretend" it all happens by some sort of magic. Seeing those who labor under difficult and often unfair conditions helps me be sensitive to the real world situation. I hope it helps others do the same... or at least be aware that these situations exist.
I still don't quite know how I can contribute to large-scale improvement of the situation, but I know it doesn't help to hide their existance. Knowing these folks exist makes me more likely to smile and speak gratitude to the sanitation worker who's busting his gut to empty my trash can. Seeing their faces makes them much more real to me.
Although I don't drink a lot of coffee - well, truth be told, about one a day during the colder months - when I do so, I buy from Starbucks.
Well first off, I like their coffee, particularly Sumatra and Kenya.
Secondly, they seem to be a "good" corporate citizen. They have a strong corporate responsibility ethic to support both sustainable agriculture and fair market pricing to ensure that workers at all levels benefit.
Third, they are committed to helping the environment including rain forest restoration projects in Costa Rica and elsewhere.
Fourth, their domestic employees are encouraged to advance and they provide both health insurance and education assistance. Something not often made available to retail workers.
To me, Starbucks proves the fact that a corporation can be profitable and also contribute to the greater good rather than acting as if those goals are mutually exclusive.
So you see, Stephen S, some of us do consider where the stuff we buy comes from, who makes it, who markets it etc.
And again, no, I don't work for them and have not financial interest in them.
When did I say you didn't? I said many people don't. And that's true and it's a shame - too many people aren't concerned about things until that thing is smacking them on the ass. Then they may take notice. Like when tax time rolls around.
Originally Posted by copake_ham