John Oliver’s HBO show marked this week’s second anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, by taking on the retailers who sell suspiciously cheap clothing – and the TV news morning programs that alternately do sad-eyed reports on human lives lost in overseas sweatshops disasters and segments raving about the incredibly cheap clothing available in this country.
The clothing retailers, Oliver said, are “losing the right to act surprised” every few years when the press reports on the latest sweatshop in which hundreds have died in an accident. “You are not characters in the Hangover movies,” Oliver scolded the execs. In 2013, the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people, due to poor construction, according to press reports. Among the news outlets reporting at the time, NBC’s Today show. And yet, Oliver noted, “just a few months later,” Today did a segment about adorable sequined purses for under a dollar and blouses that look and feel like silk but cost just $19.
“This is going to happen as long as we let it,” Oliver said. ” We need to show clothing brands not only that we care but that they should. ” To that end, Last Week Tonight will today deliver lunch to honchos at several cheap-clothing retailers, Oliver said, naming Walmart, Gap, Joe Fresh and The Children’s Place. “I do not know exactly how this food was made,” Oliver cautioned. “I told someone who may have told someone else, to get the most food they could for the cheapest price. And they did that. I do have strict policies in place. I told them not to spit on that food, or to rub their balls on that food… I want you to look at this suspiciously cheap food that lands on your desk tomorrow and I want you to f*cking eat it. And if you are thinking, ‘I can’t do that; I don’t know where it came from, what if someone rubbed their balls on it?’ I don’t know what to tell you other than, ‘Do you now understand the importance of supply chain management?’.”