In a move that seems ready-made for Anderson Cooper’s RidicuList, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have collaborated with controversial artist Damien Hirst to release an accessory for their fashion brand, The Row, that is sure to offend just about everyone: a backpack made of the skin of Nile crocodiles and decorated with prescription pills, priced at $55,000. Sold by retailer Just One Eye, the website gives the name of the bag as “Multicolored Perscription [sic] Pills,” the misspelling perhaps attributable to the many “decorations” that the artist must have ingested to conceive this garish mess.
Damien Hurst is best known for putting dead—and often mutilated—animals in tanks full of formaldehyde, so his reference to medications stuck on crocodile skin as “art” isn’t that hard to believe. And no one has ever accused the Olsens of being compassionate toward animals—they have long been under fire from PETA for their extensive use of fur.
Who is possibly the target consumer for this bag? It certainly wouldn’t be anyone who doesn’t support the exotic-animal skin trade, in which workers regularly beat crocodiles and skin them alive. And it definitely isn’t anyone who is sensitive to the fact that the abuse of prescription medication is the fastest-growing drug problem in the country. (And not just for people: Farmed animals are fed massive amounts of drugs to make them grow much faster than normal and to keep them alive on filthy factory farms.) The only conceivable purchaser is someone who desperately wants to be mugged on a New York City sidewalk for flaunting a bag that screams, “I’ve got pills!”
Reportedly, Hirst plans to give an (unspecified) donation from the sale of the bags to UNICEF, but a few dollars thrown at a charity aren’t going to hide the fact that manufacturing such bags is cruel and insensitive. Hirst and the Olsens should shamefacedly hand over the rest of the proceeds to a reputable wildlife refuge that protects crocodiles or a nonprofit substance-abuse treatment facility.
Michelle Kretzer learned about factory farming while pursuing a degree in Journalism at the University of Kentucky. She immediately stopped eating meat and dedicated herself to the cause of animal rights. When she is not writing for the PETA Foundation, Michelle enjoys traveling, collecting Beatles memorabilia, and finding great cruelty-free shoes and bags.