Join 3,372 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Tusk, Tusk
October 14, 2013 7:54 AM   Subscribe

BBC World Service's Newshour is airing Guest Editors Week as part of the BBC’s Global 100 Women Season. Guest Editors include: broadcaster Yue Sai Kan, Google executive Susan Wojcicki, French journalist Anne Sinclair, Pakistani human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir and the former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark. Chelsea Clinton began the series earlier today:
"As the luxury goods industries are expanding rapidly in China, hopefully a Louis Vuitton handbag for example or an Hermès scarf can be a status symbol as a substitute for ivory. And so it's also working with those types of companies in the private sector to ensure that their products, not ivory, are what people think of as status in China."
posted by wensink (16 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Chelsea Clinton is a daughter of American royalty who recently spent $10.5 million on an apartment with her investment banker husband. I really have little interest in being lectured to by such a person about my consumption habits.
posted by dydecker at 8:16 AM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, in what way does Chelsea Clinton's privilege have anything at all to do with her message to try to end the ivory trade? Because it wounds a lot like you're claiming that she's simply rich enough to not have to rely on ivory, which makes no sense.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:28 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Navelgazer: "I'm sorry, in what way does Chelsea Clinton's privilege have anything at all to do with her message to try to end the ivory trade? "

Well, it does sound like she's trying to "end ivory trade" in a manner that will in no way punish or alienate the extremely rich people who buy it.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:43 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who saw the title of the post and got excited about Lindsey Buckingham?
posted by epilnivek at 8:47 AM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


in what way does Chelsea Clinton's privilege have anything at all to do with her message to try to end the ivory trade?

It's not about the ivory I just object to people getting an automatic leg up in life just because of who they are or who their parents were. I resent having to listen to Chelsea Clinton's views on the ivory trade for the same reason I resent having to put up with Prince Charles' views on architecture--they just haven't earned it. By the same token I have no problem with someone like Helen Clark hosting the show--she's got to where she is by her own volition.
posted by dydecker at 8:53 AM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


yay, Chelsea!!!
posted by Bwithh at 8:57 AM on October 14, 2013


@epilnivek Ha! Or the opening scene from The Americans TV show?

The point of this post wasn't to troll the haves or those who dislike the Clintons. What really stood out for me was the wisdom/efficacy/ick factor of a (young) public figure using their access to promote and/or increase the market share of a global brand in a developing country. (To be fair, Clinton did discuss women's health care and education reform later in the episode. But the show's producer led with the ivory conversation, which was...notable.)
posted by wensink at 8:59 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay. I disagree, but that makes more sense to me, at least.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:17 AM on October 14, 2013


Anne Sinclair? Sigh. I suppose it's not surprising they gave her a topic mostly unrelated to women's issues. Didn't realize she was editorial director of Huffington Post's French edition. Then again, I only ever read it by accident... these two things are probably related.
posted by fraula at 9:26 AM on October 14, 2013


Just to highlight that this 53 minute newsprogram actually contains 3 reports (with roughly equal time each) asked for by Chelsea - one on the ivory trade , one on health issues for mothers in Afghanistan, and the last on female entrepreneurs in Africa.

The quote in the OP , taken out of context and presented on its own, may come across as a let-them-eat-cake moment. But actually it's only one part (and one of the last parts, and not an especially highlighted one) of her argument (takes place after the 20 minute mark or so. Even on its own, the point she is making is a good one - there is a massive threat to African elephants from rising demand for ivory as a status symbol by the growing Chinese middle class. One (not the only one she talks about) way of reducing that demand is suggesting luxury substitutes at the same time as educating people on conservation issues. Pointing out specific well-known brand names is more effective than just saying "silk scarf" or "high quality handbag" - brand names are very important for status symbol display in China (just having a plain silk scarf doesn't really cut it)
posted by Bwithh at 9:40 AM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Another way to look at it is that the rich have to spend their time doing something. I'd rather it was putting money and energy into causes I believe in than, say, doing the shit that the Kochs do with the specific aim of creating a permanent overclass, or the vast remainder in between who simply live in their separate, glitzy world and touch on ours as little as possible. A rich person who talks specifically about the the harm that wealth can do and that it could also mitigate is, relatively speaking, my kinda rich person.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:28 AM on October 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think the need for highly expensive status symbols is a sad show of insecurity and vulgarity. Then again, that's just my take. All I ask of jewelry is that it doesn't change color or stain my skin, and that it look nice on me.
I love elephants and think their ivory looks best on them, not made into idols or ornaments or jewelry.
As for other things, I don't wear a lot of fancy brand-name stuff. I like pretty things, but I actually make lots of stuff.
Rich people and newly middle-class people don't share this outlook. These people want things they were denied. They want things they were envied.
Ivory was always a status item in much of the word, for centuries really.
Even in prehistoric times ivory was a status symbol, even in the times of mammoths and mastadons.
It meant you could kill a very large, intelligent and dangerous animal.
The thing is, elephants are terribly endangered. Elephants are highly intelligent. Elephants have a social order which can be disrupted by all this killing, irreparably disrupted.
Maybe if people who are newly rich would instead go on photo safaris to Africa and India to see wild elephants, that could be a new high status item. It would benefit the animals, educate people and give them that status they want.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:47 AM on October 14, 2013


Well, it does sound like she's trying to "end ivory trade" in a manner that will in no way punish or alienate the extremely rich people who buy it.

AKA trying to end the ivory trade in a way that actually works.
posted by ostro at 1:38 PM on October 14, 2013


wensink: "The point of this post wasn't to troll the haves or those who dislike the Clintons. What really stood out for me was the wisdom/efficacy/ick factor of a (young) public figure using their access to promote and/or increase the market share of a global brand in a developing country. (To be fair, Clinton did discuss women's health care and education reform later in the episode. But the show's producer led with the ivory conversation, which was...notable.)"

You wrote this post with a deliberate framing that you knew would rile up the eat-the-rich crowd here, is what you're saying? Because it doesn't seem like you want anyone to comment or think about anything else other than what you personally find icky.
posted by danny the boy at 2:07 PM on October 14, 2013


Vice has a 12 min video about the surge of elephant poaching in Kenya, including interviews with poachers. It has pretty graphic footage, so beware.

I want elephants to stop getting killed. I'm not going to criticize someone delivering a sensible, workable solution, just because she's... I don't know, a Clinton? Has money and privilege? If you reject allies because you find their background offensive, I'm going to say you don't actually care about your cause as much as you claim you do.
posted by danny the boy at 2:24 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was not at all my intention, O' danny the boy. I have no dog in the hunt (as it were) in criticizing the 1% or the Clintons. What struck me about her comments, was that publicly traded, global luxury brands are being presented as a very convenient $olution to the problem of the ivory trade. Substituting an upwardly mobile Chinese woman's object of desire from an ivory necklace to a Birkin bag doesn't really strike me as progress (unless you're an elephant or Hermès) or a global solution.

Her comments about educating the public about the source of ivory make perfect sense. When she strayed into McKinsey-speak about working with "the private sector" to substitute status goods, that's when she lost me.

And neither was it my intention to sound like an anti-global capitalist. I'm really not.
posted by wensink at 3:40 PM on October 14, 2013


« Older Myths, Presumptions, and Facts about Obesity, from...  |  The much-anticipated Frontline... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments