Welcome to the Alamo

I am fighting a war I did not start. The battlefields are my eyeballs. My first line of defense is a dark pair of shades, the last line my eyelids. My brain is the Alamo and it’s preparing for its last stand. My enemy is relentless. They’re attacking me 3,000 to 5,000 times a day. Often it’s sneak attack style. Other times it’s with atomic bombs.

Who is this enemy? Whoever tastelessly flaunts their brand in front of my face. We’re in fisticuffs over my brain space. And I’m starting to feel as if I’m being pushed out. “Hey!” I want to scream, “I was here first!” But they don’t stop. The best brands know their customers well enough that they’re able to reach them in a comfortable way. Some folk need to be spoken to gently. Others can be smacked around. But no one likes to be uppercut in the face by 20 ft. picture of Sean Puffy Combs. I think P. Diddy is an idiot. If I saw him out and about I wouldn’t be star struck I’d be ready to strike a star. Why do I have to look at him, and more importantly, why he’s have to look at me, while I’m minding my own business, strolling down Silver Lake Blvd.?

I’m talking about these new digital billboards that are going up all over town. Apparently there will be 877 of them constructed throughout LA County when it’s all said and done. The LA Weekly calls them oil wells in the sky. Fitting. These televisions on steroids flash five awful commercials every minute or so. It’s been reported they’re visible for a mile. They illuminate the sky far more effectively than the moon and come in only as a close second to the sun. I become the deer, they become the headlights. I become the moth, they become the lamp. I’m neither. I’m a human being. I demand dignity.

But it doesn’t seem like that will happen. According to this article in The Weekly every LA city council members is either in the pocket of billboard agencies (Clear Channel Outdoor, CBS Outdoor, Vista) or inept. Why would a politician who received over $400,000 from billboard companies to run for reelection vote down a proposal to limit the amount of vision pollution in our city? The answer is they don’t.

So once again the burden is placed on the masses. Maybe the best approach is to simply boycott whatever product is being advertised by means of bright flashing lights but that would force us to study these billboards in order to create a list of products not to buy. I’d rather not. Instead I propose to fight fire with fire. Fight new technology with new technology. Now my lack of a background in engineering, construction and computer science is going to limit my ability to create something tangible. So I’ll just propose the idea and let team MIT run with it.

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Anti-Advertisement Spectacles (with microchip)

Imagine a pair of glasses that has the ability to detect any sort of advertisement and blot it out. Pepsi cans turn blue. Nike signs get un-swooshed. And the giant P. Diddy billboard becomes the color of the night black sky behind it. How will our scientists be able achieve this? Simple: microchips. OK, OK I realize you’re probably ready to stop reading this post right about now and I don’t blame you. It’s a bizarre, but I will say this: If we put a man on the moon in 1969 we take the Ralph Lauren logo off a shirt in 2008.

It’s not that I’m against all advertising all the time, it’s just that a need a few moments in the sanctuary of my own skull to remember what I really want and need in this world without being influenced by others. The imaginary — and ridiculous — glasses would not be necessary if I didn’t feel I was in danger of losing that space.

Great brands create respectful relationship between provider and consumer. These are the brands we welcome into our home and on our t-shirts. All the rest are war-mongering. And we have enough war as it is.

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