June 19, 2011

Everything Is Fine

Ever since reading The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey, I have been interested in people that subvert damaging mainstream messages. The characters in Abbey's book were blowing up and cutting down billboards, but today's activist is more likely to adbust billboards, and 'liberate' them for their own messages.

Adbusting anti-consumer groups have sprung up in recent years to fight the corrosive effects of ever-present corporate advertising. Adbusters is one such group based out of Vancouver, BC. Anti-advertisements hit back with the same weapons being used against us in the war on our minds, wallets and planet.

Madrid Street Advertising Takeover (MSAT) is a civil disobedience project intent on changing expectations of public behavior in our shared environments. Even more than challenging advertisers and the keep shopping gang, groups like this are putting the 'public' back into 'public spaces'.

MSAT says of its displays,
"The result is a variety of unique visions of public dialogue and a glimpse at the possibilities available when we open up our public environment in a truly public way." See more here.
Advertisers and the corporate world have taken control of our shared spaces with ubiquitous messages to "buy, buy, buy". Combined with for-profit media conglomerates, the official message is "Everything is fine. Keep shopping".

But is it, really? Should we continue mindlessly trying to buy our way to the promised better life?

I don't think so.

Liberated billboard by Shoreditch Department of Advertising Correction, UK

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