The Critical Stans Episode 9: “Cause-sumption And The Commodification Of Activism”


Join The Daily Vox journalists SHAAZIA EBRAHIM and FATIMA MOOSA every week as they chat all things fun and serious around fan culture, fandoms and what it means to be a stan. They’ll be destroying tropes around the supposedly traditional hardcore male football fan and the manic pop culture fangirl; covering everything from football, Young Adult fiction to Beyoncé and K-pop. Living in the fanworld as women of colour who are avid consumers of all things fan-related means that it is impossible to ignore the politics of these things. And that’s what the Critical Stans are all about.

Nike made a splash on Tuesday when it dropped an ad-campaign with Colin Kaepernick as it’s face with the slogan: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Kaepernick is a former San Francisco 49rs quarterback, famous for being the first player to start kneeling during the US anthem before NFL games as a protest against racial inequality and injustice in the country. But what does it mean that brands are so quick to align themselves to political causes when they perpetuate socio-economic inequality by the very base they are premised on? We discuss consumerist ethics and the commodification of activism in episode nine of The Critical Stans.

Nike’s headscarf doesn’t take on Islamophobia and patriarchy. Muslim women do

Produced by Sipho Hlongwane

If you missed our last eight episodes, check them out below.

Episode 8: Pleasures and Perils of YouTube

Episode 7: Desi Girls Feels

Episode 6: On the Obsession with Reality TV

Episode 5: The Most Wonderful World of Kpop

Episode 4: The Science Behind The Boy Bands

Episode 3: Worshipping At The Altar of Celebrity 

Episode 2: YA Is Lit

Episode 1: World Cup and Misogyny


  1. Literally had this conversation with a friend the other day. Why are brands walking into the political area? Awards, advertising awards. We forget that the “Girl and the Bull” was an advertising campaign… Take a look through the Cannes awards showreels – ya’ll be shocked.

    If you’re looking for the moral high ground by being the “Best Consumer”, stop buying things. Just stop. Sell all your worldly possessions, and walk into the woods (so yeah, I won’t burn it to the ground, some people like it). Every industry has it’s dark, awful secrets. Dig deep enough and organic farming has its own secrets while employing people to make plastic straws has its benefits (like they can buy food)- really it is just about finding the balance you’re happy to live with. If you’re not happy, the woods are waiting.

    Then the Nike campaign, piggybacking and helping Colin with money and spreading his message, inspiring a generation without a moral leader – in short – I think is a good thing. After all, he didn’t get pick up this season by any team in the NFL, so he needs to live off this sponsorship. If this idea helps him feed his family (I base my decisions on how many people it feeds), again it’s good. While we can get bogged down by the shadow and mirrors, asking ourselves if its ethical for a brand with an agenda to become involved, at the end of the day an unemployable athlete can eat – well-done advertising – and – Nike you’re good by me on this one.

    Just because a brand can cash in by standing on the right side doesn’t make them evil, they could have easily have picked the other side – because the liberal market isn’t alone you can easily appeal to the conservative market.

    Anyway, my two cents. Normally I don’t think people want to hear my serious opinions…
    So, there you go Sipho I listened!

    Love and kisses,



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