More semiotic disobedience

Posted by Rob Walker on September 10, 2006
Posted Under: Anti,Artists,Semiotic Disobedience

I just realized I forgot something I wanted to mention in my post a little while ago about the Point of Purchase show: two other recent examples of semiotic disobedience in the news lately.

Street-art star Banksy got a lot of attention for his latest stunt, which was shopdropping some altered Paris Hilton CDs. “Banksy is notorious for his secretive and subversive stunts,” the BBC explains, adding some details about this particular prank:

Banksy has replaced Hilton’s CD with his own remixes and given them titles such as Why am I Famous?, What Have I Done? and What Am I For? He has also changed pictures of her on the CD sleeve to show the US socialite topless and with a dog’s head.

Banksy’s done some cool stuff, but this seems pretty lame. Seriously: Paris Hilton? Is there supposed to be something surprising — let alone subversive — in the idea of criticizing Paris Hilton for having no talent? Hasn’t that idea already been expressed by, oh, I don’t know, everybody? Maybe this doesn’t even count as semiotic disobedience after all, since the aim seems to have more to do with hyping Banksy than striking a blow against a silly socialite. Or maybe it’s all a meta comment on publicity.

Anyway, the other example: The Ronald McHummer Sign-o-Matic. This, too, is getting a lot of attention online. A response to a McDonald’s promotion that involved giving away Hummer toys, it is “an interactive website that lets you write your own slogan or message about the Hummer giveaway, display it on a McDonald’s marquee, and send a message to the president of the fast-food chain.”

As I type, the site says, “over 99,000 signs served,” presumably referring to the number of messages sent to McDonalds’ execs from the site. If that’s accurate, it’s pretty impressive.

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

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