Sunday, September 30, 2012

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."

This is a letter written in response to the Banksy by advertising professional Craig Ward who blogs here

Dear  Banksy,

I read your recent open letter regarding ‘The Advertisers’ and I have to say I didn’t much like your tone, particularly coming from one of the art world’s greatest marketers since possibly Warhol.

Allow me to say from the offset that I don’t much care for the advertising industry as a whole either, though having worked at several agencies in my career (as a typographer), I’ve done OK out of it. I live in New York these days but when I lived in London I used to see your work all the time. I didn’t ask to see it – in much the same way as you don’t ask to see advertising – and I never much cared for it either. A lot of my friends did though, and several of them now own your prints, books and in a couple of cases, original works.

I should probably mention that, without exception, all of those people work in advertising.
Now, as far as I see it, the very act of putting your work in the public eye – say on walls, street corners, in alleyways and underpasses etc – is, effectively advertising it by virtue of people being able to see it at all. Exposure is advertising.  And unless I’m much mistaken, the only product you’re selling is yourself.

The last time I checked, The Advertisers at least had to pay a lot of money to use the public spaces that their wares occupy – unlike yourself who has decided to remove yourself from that model in the name of art and anti capitalism.

Another criticism often leveled at advertising is that it steals from artists and plagiarises ideas, where as your work is merely ‘inspired’ by one artist; Blek Le Rat. Which I guess is OK. And the fact that you’ve made a comfortable living from it is also fine. I feel like it’s a convenient irony though that the only people who can now afford to own your work are the ad-land Creative Directors and City boys that you so eagerly rail against, while at the same time selling your own brand of rebellious, anti-establishment cool.

If the Advertisers are laughing at us, then you are surely laughing with them.It’s all just so easy isn’t it? Big companies are evil; advertising sells stuff for big companies; ergo, the people who work in advertising are also evil. I think Bill Hicks had a similar thing going a few years ago. No, wait I’m sorry, exactly the same thing going.

As a child of the 80′s I grew up surrounded by cigarette advertising, yet I’ve never bought a pack in my life. I’ve seen car ads every day for 30 years and I’ve never bought one of those either. That’s as much as I can say about myself, but it’s clear to me that you’re ignoring the fact that people have a choice in what they buy – if they buy anything at all – and that they actually like buying things. They work hard for a living and purchasing something other than basic food, utilities or clothing gives them a sense of achievement; that their hard work has paid off in some capacity.

When I first read your letter I thought you were going to mount some stenciled horse and storm the castles of advertising with a well formed argument, but instead it seems like you were just inciting people to steal and vandalise ads that they saw on the street. Personally, I don’t have the time or inclination.

Regarding ‘the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen’ that you mention, you must be referring to the office fax machine? Having seen agency life, I can attest that there’s nothing Machiavellian going on; no illuminated map of the globe and no sinister plot to take over the world; just a bunch of people trying to make a living.

As it stands, there are only 1.2 billion formal jobs in the world for the 7 billion people that live on it. If advertising keeps a few thousand off the streets then let it be, eh? People who work in advertising are good enough to buy your work, so why not buy some of what they’re selling from time to time?
Kind regards and good luck in your future ventures.

Craig Ward
Now we have had the fun of reading the rant and its reaction. You are free to support who you want. Nonetheless, some brands like Ikea have actually gone on and used Banksy style of graffiti to promote themselves, just as Banksy has used say McDonald’s or Col. Sanders of KFC.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Emmys 2012 winners

Winners at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards:

Drama Series: Homeland
Comedy Series: Modern Family
Miniseries or Movie: Game Change
Variety, Comedy or Musical Series: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Reality-Competition Program: The Amazing Race
Host, Reality or Reality-Competition Program: Tom Bergeron, Dancing With the Stars

Supporting Actor, Comedy: Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Supporting Actress, Comedy: Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Guest Actor, Comedy: Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live
Guest Actress, Comedy: Kathy Bates, Two and a Half Men
Lead Actor, Comedy: Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Lead Actress, Comedy: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Supporting Actor, Drama: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Supporting Actress, Drama: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Guest Actress, Drama: Martha Plimpton, The Good Wife
Guest Actor, Drama: Jeremy Davies, Justified
Lead Actor, Drama: Damian Lewis, Homeland
Lead Actress, Drama: Claire Danes, Homeland
Supporting Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Tom Berenger, Hatfields & McCoys
Lead Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Julianne Moore, Game Change
Lead Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys

Writing, Comedy: Louis C.K., Louie
Writing, Drama: Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff, Homeland
Writing, Variety, Music or Comedy Special: Louis C.K., Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre
Writing, Miniseries or Movie: Danny Strong, Game Chan

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dogme 95

For the Dogme 95 film-makers, the film text can get close to some sort of social and political truth but to do so must avoid all the artificial techniques employed by much of mainstream cinema. The Dogme quest is for an authentic cinema in an entertainment landscape made up of artifice. Their Vow of Chastity implies that the least amount of technological intervention in the film-making process makes for a more honest, realistic aesthetic.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dongri to Dubai

S.Hussain Zaidi’s Dongri to Dubai is a gripping read. This however, is not a review. You can read two of the better reviews of Dongri to Dubai here and here. The book is exhaustive and informative, immaculately researched and put together. Not in the form of a dossier but in a fairly dramatic narrative sequence. The story is about how a boy from Dongri became a don in Dubai.It captures his bravado, cunningness, focus, ambition, lust for power, and in doing so; it is chronicling the history of the Bombay underworld.

The book is information laden and as you read, you realise that  building an empire like D-Company is not a mean feat that Dawood has achieved. Not for nothing is he figured in the 50 most influential people in the world. He has successfully out manoeuvred his rivals till now with tacit and explicit support from various powers to be makes interesting revelations about the system in India. Dawood has played the system to his gains like a sly fox.

Instead of putting out an excerpt, i have put down some of the information that you would happen to come across if you go through the book.

  • Haji Mastan alias Mastan Haider Mirza hails from Cuddalore, Tamilnadu, and he initially made it big in smuggling by being the blue-eyed-boy at the Bombay docks of Sheikh Mohammed al Ghalib, an Arab trading in Dubai and Eden.
  • Mani Ratnam’s Nayakan (1987) starring Kamal Hasan and Vinod Khanna starrer Dayavan (1988), its Hindi remake, is based on another don from south –Varadarajan Mudaliar. Mudaliar's mainly operated in illicit liquor trade.
  • Ibrahim Kaskar, Dawood’s dad is from Ratnagiri, Maharashtra and as Head Constable of Bombay Police held considerable clout. A devout pious man, Ibrahim Kaskar was respected for his honesty and integrity by peers and dons alike.
  • Before he made D-company, he as an upcoming gangster headed the Young Party which was front for extortion when not celebrating Eid-e-milad and Eid-ul-fitr with gusto.
  • Manya Surve shot Dawood’s elder brother Sabir Ibrahim Kaskar. Manya Surve was shot down by the Bombay police in its first ever encounter. Shootout at Wadala (2013) is an upcoming film in which the dreaded gangster Surve, an ardent James Hadley Chase fan is played by John Abraham.
  • D-company mastered the art of smuggling cargo, gold and silver via the porous west coast of India into small port towns of Raigad, Alibaug and used the fishermen to execute their landing.
  • Bada Rajan alias Rajan Nair used to steal typewriters and sell them off at Chor Bazaar, Mutton Street, while Chota Rajan alias Rajendra Nikhalje was a black marketer at Sahakar Cinema, Chembur. Chota Rajan rose through the ranks to be Dawood’s protégé and after a dramatic fallout, his bête noire and a man constantly on the run.
  • The first time Dawood Ibrahim was arrested for smuggling was in 1982 under COFEPOSA , (Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Act) of the Customs Act.
  • He fled Bombay to Dubai after the police got him on the wanted list for the murder of another Pathan mafia goon Samad Khan. Dawood, Ali Antulay, Chhota Rajan had killed him by spraying bullets at him in an elevator on Oct 4, 1984.
  • Dawood Ibrahim actually made his company cosmopolitan and recruited people without any religious bias. Infact he is hardly a practising Muslim. It is a hatred filled Tiger Memon who has masterminded and orchestrated the Bombay Serial Blasts in 1993.
  • According to some, Dawood suggested Tiger Memon’s name to ISI, so that Memom gets entangled with the law and abandon his flourishing smuggling business. Dawood and Memon were cordial but Dawood never entertains a rival. If this anecdote is true, it was indeed a masterstroke as Memon fled India never to return.

Today, the Indian governments’ D Dossier identifies Dawood Ibrahim no longer as just an underworld don, but a shipping magnate, media baron, drug trafficker, arms trafficker, and the CEO of a huge corporate called D-Company, all rolled into one.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Midnight in Paris Quotes

Gil: Because this is unbelievable..there is no city like this in the world.
Inez: You are in love with a fantasy.
Gil: I’m in love with you.

Adriana: Tell me more about your book.
Gil: My book is kind of a .. you know what, i couldn’t care less about my book tonight. I just want to walk around Paris with you.

Gil: You know, sometimes i think, how is anyone ever gonna come up with a book, or a painting, or a symphony, or a sculpture that can compete with a great city. You can’t.

John: Certainly they have been no friends of the United States
Gil: Well i mean you can’t exactly blame them for not following us down that rabbit holes in Iraq with the whole bush you know.

Gil: By the way it is fine for me and your father to disagree. That’s what a democracy is. Your father defends the right wing of the Republican Party and i happen to think that you almost have to be a demented lunatic to be so. It doesn’t mean that we don’t respect each other’s views, am i right?  

Adriana: I keep forgetting that you are a tourist.
Gil: That is putting it mildly.

Paul : Sex and alcohol..fuels the desire, kills the performance, according to the Bard.

Gil: That’s what present is. It’s a little unsatisfying because life is unsatisfying.
Ernest Hemingway: No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest and it affirms courage and grace under pressure.

Gil: I am jealous and I’m trusting. It’s cognitive dissonance. F.Scott Fitzgerald talked about it.

Ernest Hemingway: Picasso only thinks that women are to sleep with, or to paint.

Ernest Hemingway: you’ll never be a great writer if you fear dying, do you?
Gil: Yeah, i do. I would say it’s my greatest fear.

Adriana: I’m from the ‘20s and i am telling you the golden age is la Belle Epoque.

Gil: I would like you to read my novel and get your opinion.
Ernest Hemingway: I hate it.
Gil: You haven’t even read it yet.
Ernest Hemingway: If it’s bad, i’ll hate it. If it’s good, then i’ll be envious and hate it even more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.

Gil: 500 Francs for a Matisse? That seems fair! So, can i get 6 or 7 ?

Gil: You two have the same names as ..
Scott F.Fitzgerald: As what ?
Gil: Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald
Scott F. Fitzgerald: Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, the Fitzgeralds. Isn’t she beautiful?
Gil: Yes, yes..its a coincidence its a ...
Zelda Fitzgerald: You have a glazed look in your eyes, stunned, stupefied, anaesthetised, lobotomised.

Gil : I am having trouble (completing my book) because i’m a Hollywood hack who never gave real literature a shot..until now.

Gil: you know, i think better in the shower, get all those positive ions flowing.

Ernest Hemingway: All men fear death. It’s a natural fear that consumes all. We fear death because we feel that we haven’t loved well enough or loved at all, which ultimately are one and the same.  However, when you make love with a truly great woman, one that deserves the utmost respect in this world and one that makes you feel truly powerful, that fear of death completely disappears. Because when you are sharing your body and heart with a great woman the world fades away. You two are the only ones in the entire universe. You conquer what lesser men have never conquered before, you have conquered a great woman’s heart, the most vulnerable thing she can offer to another .Death no longer lingers in the mind. Fear no longer clouds your heart. Only passion for living, and for loving, become your sole reality. This is no easy task for it takes insurmountable courage. But remember this, for that moment when you are making love with a woman of true greatness, you will fell immortal.

Ernest Hemingway: It was a good book because it was an honest book, and that’s what war does to men. And there’s nothing fine and noble about dying in the mud unless you die gracefully. And then it’s not only noble but brave.

Ernest Hemingway: If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.

Gertrude Stein:Everybody knows if you are too careful you are so occupied in being careful that you are sure to stumble over something.

F.Scott Fitzgerald: Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind. 

Zelda Fitzgerald: Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold. 
Gil: You look around and every street, every boulevard, is its own special art form and when you think that in the cold, violent, meaningless universe that Paris exits, these lights, I mean come on, there’s nothing happening on Jupiter or Neptune, but from way out in space you can see these lights, the cafe, people drinking and singing. For all you know, Paris is the hottest spot in the universe.

Ernest Hemingway:If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.

Adriana: That Paris exists and anyone could chose to live anywhere else in the will always be a mystery to me. 

Gertrude Stein: The artist’s greatest job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence. You have a clear and lovely voice. Don’t be such a defeatist.