An online campaign named “One Star For Hate” is calling on web users to leave negative reviews on Amazon products – particularly costumes – it deems to be offensive. Supporters are offered the chance to win a $3,000 scholarship if they leave a negative review.
The campaign, hosted on DoSomething.org, contends that costumes like “American Brave” and “Pocahottie” perpetuate “cultural stereotypes” and “exploit elements of a culture.” It calls on supporters to “flood online retailers with one-star reviews of racist costumes.”
People who sign up to the campaign are promised “facts on cultural appropriation” and “tips on educating people about it,” as well as a list of racist costumes and a standardized set of “snarky review text” to “discourage people from buying those costumes online.”
By providing its supporters with copy-pasted review text, the campaign may violate Amazon’s terms of service for customer reviews, which forbids reviews that are not the author’s original work. The offer of a prize may also conflict with Amazon’s ban on reviews that are written for compensation.
Social justice warriors have been pushing the issue of “cultural appropriation” for some time, and their efforts have begun to hit the headlines. This summer, SJW protesters descended on a museum in Boston after it announced “Kimono Wednesdays,” where visitors were allowed to wear the traditional Japanese Kimono. The largely non-Japanese group of anti-appropriation activists faced embarrassment after they were met by a counter-protest of Japanese Americans, who wore Kimonos and held signs welcoming others to share their culture.
Bans of allegedly offensive costumes have also become commonplace on university campuses. Student unions in the U.K. have issued bans on Mexican Sombreros after they were branded racist. Campus Reform reports a growing number of universities in the U.S. engaging in the same policies, with outfits ranging from cowboy hats to Geisha costumes condemned or banned. The frequency of controversies over alleged “cultural appropriation” is likely to increase as Halloween approaches.
The move to conduct a campaign of negative reviews on Amazon may prove to be a risky one for campaigners. Amazon has been happy to crack down on politically-motivated review campaigns in the past, and there are signs that the online retailer is toughening its approach against incentivised reviews. They recently commenced legal action against 1,000 unidentified people it alleges posted “false, misleading, or inauthentic reviews” in exchange for compensation.