Keep politics out of SXSW: LUSH plans unnecessary political publicity stunt


Olivier Bruchez / Wikimedia Commons

At LUSH’s second appearance at SXSW, the company has decided to get political. However, the company is inherently political as it fights for sustainable practices.

South by Southwest (SXSW) recently released its schedule for 2020 and it includes some new brands they are partnering with. SXSW is a music, film and interactive festival held in Austin during spring break. 

This year the festival is partnering with LUSH cosmetics. LUSH is a cosmetics retailer with products ranging from handmade soap to mascaras. On March 13, LUSH will host an event called “UnBuild That Wall! UnBuild That Wall!” with the purpose of  taking a stand against racism, fear and hate by deconstructing a giant border wall made of soap.

This comes as a response to the turmoil surrounding President Trump’s order for a wall to be built on the U.S. border. Trump’s purpose for the wall is to prevent illegal immigration, which does not necessarily mean it’s a form of racism. 

Every country has control over its borders and the president is trying to do just that: control it. There has been much criticism on the topic of the wall, some for it and some against it, but everyone needs to accept the reality that people have different opinions and we should be respectful of them, regardless of our own.

Everything has its time and place, including politics. SXSW is supposed to be a fun event where people can go and listen to artists, enjoy exhibitions, showcases, screenings and  networking. Putting an event that sparks political conversations in a setting like this is more performative than anything else. Festivals like SXSW are supposed to bring the community together, but using a platform like this is divisive. It does not embrace the differences that we all possess. 

SXSW has been a successful event throughout the years and is something that many Austinites and tourists look forward to. This could give SXSW bad press because fans may not expect politics to be involved. 

Although there are many reasons why politics shouldn’t be involved with entertainment, I acknowledge that LUSH is doing a good thing by donating money towards organizations that work for migrant justice and building communities that are  safe for everyone. Everyone should donate to causes that help those in need; it does not matter what political figure you support. 

If you are able to give, give! And though I recognize that helping others is something positive to do, I do not think this is the best method for helping those who need it. The fact that the company is donating money is not enough to validate such events at a setting like SXSW. 

If LUSH really wanted to help organizations that work for migrant justice, they could have just used the same method in a different setting. They could have used a different method and still gotten donations by simply excluding the wall image they are incorporating in this event. They could create a special theme for their products and include a deal which would attract consumers to donate to migrant justice. LUSH simply wants to gain publicity through this event and that’s disappointing.