There’s a momentary triptych of two opposite-heading buses converging on a cinema’s advertising hoarding. The effect is a snarly confrontation of gorgeous, tanned Hollywood actors dressed to impress across time and genres. Peculiarly, each sports the same pained expression, pursed lips and defying pose. Orwell’s point of controlling the present permits the writing of past and future seems strangely apt when considering Hollywood’s expression of masculinity across fiction and fantasy.

Taking note of this fleeting conflagration, I make an effort to stay awake to the rest of the images on my walk into the city. It becomes an increasingly unsettling trip. Billboards. Advertisements splayed across bus contours. Product stands glaring from inside shops. Oddly familiar brands emblazoned on whatever mode of transport is seeding it across the city. Taking the time to engage with each one ends with a conscious realisation of the monstrous din created by this ceaseless bombardment of visual cues of consumption. It’s probably no coincidence that Gil Scott Heron’s song the revolution will not be televised arrives to offer a respite.

Scott’s stirring proclamation is a poignant one. For all the time spent passively absorbing these messages of consumption, we can be assured of one singular fact – nothing of what we see in these images will support our efforts to change our community or improve our society. They emphasise a lack in the individual life, but don’t suggest a concomitant lack in the society. They dominate the public space, with the implicit message that everything is okay, continue about your day, Remain passive in consumption. It is a clear counter-revolutionary force, precluding the emergence of a counter-narrative, something along the lines of: things are not okay, please stop what your doing, consider the consequences of your actions.

The essence of the disquiet from this barrage of ‘beautiful people’ staring out at me is how it inculcates self-doubt. It’s an impossibility to achieve what’s being offered. The ubiquitous paragon of perfection makes the human-scale effort all too tragically commonplace. Flawed from the get-go. When did this glossy abstract fantasy world become the principal reference for a public life? How did it become such a dehumanising and dis-empowering force? This cult of celebrity and beauty that is farcical in its operation and perverse in its implication seems to lock us up inside a self-hating narcissism, a neurosis of inadequacy, robbing us of the very public space in which to express our imperfections, to get together and create a more human, commonplace space where perfection is that you only try and don’t lose hope. Beckett is right.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

A more human reality would be one that lauds the local attempt. Better a culture that knows the value of failure than one that idolises a fantasy of perfection prescribing passivity for anyone buying.


Video  —  Posted: April 12, 2013 in Media