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.
Remix culture FTW! I believe this quote comes from Banksy’s 2004 (?) book Cut It Out, but his official website isn’t actually much help in this respect. Please feel free to leave a comment if you can confirm or know better…
Paid for by Amnesty International supporters, this ad was due to run in today’s Financial Times (basically the house paper of the City), to coincide with the Shell shareholders’ AGM in London. At the very last minute, the FT decided to pull the ad. Here’s what Amnesty International had to say:
Financial Times’ late call thwarts Amnesty’s campaign
Amnesty International UK expressed its immense disappointment today at the Financial Times’ decision to pull a new hard-hitting advertisement at the last possible moment. The ad was due to appear today as Shell held its London AGM.
The advertisement focused on the appalling human rights record of Shell in Nigeria. It compared the company’s $9.8bn profits with the consequences of pollution caused by the oil giant for the people of the Niger Delta.
Numerous oil spills, which have not been adequately cleaned up, have left local communities with little option but to drink polluted water, eat contaminated fish, farm on spoiled land, and breathe in air that stinks of oil and gas.
Tim Hancock, Amnesty International UK’s campaigns director, said:
“The decision by the Financial Times is extremely disappointing. We gave them written reassurances that we would take full responsibility for the comments and opinions stated in the advertisement.
“Both The Metro and The Evening Standard had no problems with running the ad.”
Tim Hancock added:
“The money to pay for the advertisements came entirely from more than 2,000 individuals online, who we’d asked to fund an ad campaign targeting Shell’s AGM – and it really caught their imagination. And I am sure these supporters will share with us our sense of deep disappointment.”
No FT, no comment?
Oh dear. Some silly tabloid journalist had to go ask John Lydon what he thought of the Arctic Monkeys. That was never going to end well. Under the deeply original (not) headline “It’s the Arctic punkies”, Lydon is quoted thusly:
“Oh don’t be silly. That’s not a band. That’s a showbiz construct. A mockery. Alex Turner just turns on the computer and types in ‘punk’ and it goes ‘ping’. I see no gut-wrenching soul-searching going on there”
Hmmm. I know full well that Lydon is a classic contrarian, that his brand of punk has never been about principles, and that he’s probably entirely right about the Arctic Monkeys (full disclosure: I’d rather chew my own foot off than listen to any of their albums…) – but this from the man who sold what little soul he had left – after Malcolm McClaren had finished with it, obviously – to a butter company, of all things? Not very punk, really – however you choose to define that concept.