Banksy on Advertising
“People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are “The Advertisers” and they are laughing at you.
You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.
Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.
You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.”
there’s a rivalry between people who practice “graffiti” and people who practice “street art.” if you’re on the outside, you might not even realize that there’s a difference between the two. while there is much cross-over, from a classic, purist (read: elitist/snobby) point of view, there is a difference. from my own observations, here’s what i’ve gathered are the marked distinctions:
- true to the methodology used in the 70s when it emerged, “graffiti” only uses spray-paint (and sometimes marker pens). “street art” is allowed a more varied methodology that can include stencils, wheatpastes, sculpture, waxed crayons, and brush paints.
-”graffiti” is woven tightly with calligraphy, and most graff murals depict creative lettering. people who practice only lettering are called “graffiti writers.” the calligraphy emerged as a way to communicate amongst or between crews, and the more obtuse and indecipherable the letters, the better the graff writer. while graffiti does often depict people, places, or things, they must be done with free-hand spray-paint.
-”street art” can involve calligraphy as well, but the lettering will usually play second-fiddle to the imagery accompanying it. or, if the lettering is just as important, it illuminates the meaning and significance of the imagery (or vice versa).
-”graffiti” is a way of getting your street name or your crew’s name out there. like tagging, it is boastful and aggrandizes the talents of the graffitist by enlarging their name with vibrant (often fluorescent) colours. unless commissioned, graffiti rarely operates within a unilateral theme.
-”street art,” while also boastful, predominantly operates amongst many themes that historically were tackled amongst conventional “artists” who emerged from institutions of higher education … such themes include Politics (which is the tantamount theme), Sex and Relationships, Religion, Culture & Ethnicity, War, Gender, Pop Culture & Media, Music, Health & Addictions, etc ….
-in addition, “street art” is allowed to be humorous, highly-ironic, tongue-in-cheek, satirical, and can lampoon any and/or all of the themes mentioned above. Political figures and notable personalities are the usual targets.
-”culture jamming” is a sort of hybrid form of graffiti and street art, which calls upon the viewer to re-think and re-contextualize state-run messages, advertisements, and cultural-norms by altering public spaces and billboards (with either the tools of graffiti or street art), usually from ever-so slight tweaks to the pre-existing message in order to create a new and thusly more provocative message.
-”graffiti” is usually hailed as the purest form of the medium that emerged from the street and was free of institutionalization or canonization. “street art” is considered by these purists to be a bastardization of graffiti, used simply as a publicity stunt in order to propel the artist into a conventional gallery-setting, therefore motivated purely by old-fashioned, material greed.
- but “street art” has a bigger, more inclusive audience than graffiti. it is more readily accepted by governing bodies and authorities as ‘art’ worthy of protection, and is less associated with gang culture and criminal activity than graffiti. it is considered to be democratic, liveable, ephemeral, and a truer form of expression. it is infused with greater potency and meaning.
but the main reason that street art has overtaken and superceded graffiti as the real urban art is:
it annoys idiots.
the great Christopher Hitchens, dead at 62 of oesophageal cancer
he came to toronto last year and debated former british prime minister tony blair at convocation hall (UofT), which i couldn’t get tickets to, but it was streamed online. you can watch the entire debate in the below video, and it is a stirring and rousing battle cry for independent thought and the rejection of moral dictatorship. hitchens delivers “hitch slap” after “hitch slap,” as it were, and even makes blair admit that hitchens argument is more powerful than his own.
a great light has gone out. for atheists, academics, philosophers, writers, and essayists everywhere, this is a huge blow.
but if hitchens were here, he’d tell us all to stop being such saps.
media gives us blatant sexual messages, but there’s no emphasis on relationships or intimacy. We have to fight to get proper sex education into schools. The problem isn’t sex, it’s our culture’s pornographic attitude toward sex. It’s the trivialization of sex. And nowhere is sex more trivialized than in advertising, where by definition it is used to sell everything.
one could argue that sex has always been used to sell everything, and to a great extent, that’s true. but it is far more extreme, graphic, and pornographic today than ever before.
The truth is that sex is both more important AND less important than our culture makes it out to be. It’s more important because at its best is has meaning, mystery, and emotional powers. And it’s less important because it by no means is the most important aspect of life or love.
But a visitor to our planet would have to come to only two conclusions: the first is that sex is the only thing that matters. And the second is that sex & sexuality belong only to the young and beautiful. If you’re not young and perfect looking, you have no sexuality.
And i think the ultimate impact of that is profoundly anti-erotic.
As much as I like to posture about sex from time to time, I have never made myself sexually available to someone while expecting little or nothing in return. I am not going to be one of those women who is sold on popular cultures view that WOMEN ARE OBJECTS and then reframe it so i begin to view myself as one. So many women are sold the idea that sexualizing yourself is some form of empowerment. We are encouraged to see this as our own choice, when really, the decision was made and applauded by dominant culture years ago.
presenting oneself in the most cliched and stereotypical way is not some kind of liberation.
when our culture offers women only one way to be sexy, it can hardly be considered a choice to choose it. you never had a choice. Wearing a thong (which is essentially a stripper’s g-string), removing your pubic hair, acting passive, infantilizing yourself, sending naked photos of yourself to a boy via your cell phone, dancing on stripper poles, and starving yourself to be thin are just some of the methods forced upon women to stay within the strict, rigid category of SEXY, and any deviation from this is mocked, ridiculed, and seen even by other women as vastly unsexy.
somehow, the women’s movement, which was a force for radical change, has been co-opted by dominant culture to make it about the very values we were fighting against. we have been co-opted and trivialized. Our value of feminine self expression has now become a battle cry used to sell us botox, breast implants, and hair bleach.
a note about breast implants: most women will report that after having breast implants, they lose sensation in their breasts. So their body has now become the object of someone else’s pleasure, rather than their own. breast implants are the perfect way to turn oneself into an object rather than the subject, and the cost is extreme surgical pain, financial ruin, and no guarantee that it will bring you happiness.
there is nothing wrong with wanting to be attractive or sexy. Just about everybody wants this. The problem here is that this desire is held at the utmost importance, at the exclusion of other qualities and aspects. Being HOT has become the most important measure of success. Being cooperative, compassionate, decent, and giving are no longer the yardsticks for being a good person.
in fact, a woman is seen as a “good girl” if she is promiscuous and emotionally detached.
i’m writing about this because this social disease has infected too many people that i love. I don’t even recognize some of my closest friends anymore. While some of my friends encourage the trivialization of sex and have made themselves into sex objects without demanding respect or support from their partners, others are so obsessed with the “gotta-find-a-man-gotta-please-a-man-gotta-keep-a-man” mentality that they don’t even care how he treats her or even if he’s a good person.
please, do not confuse sex with intimacy. one is a disposable pleasure. the other is a meaningful pursuit.
indeed, women now see themselves as disposable pleasures.
i, on the other hand, am a meaningful pursuit.