Monday, November 18, 2013

To the Winter Palace

“No more ads! No more ads!” Slogan of the revolution I led in a dream the other night. I had an elaborate theory that explained why forbidding advertisements would, all by itself, suffice to bring the millennium. No redistribution; no direct democracy; no revolutionary vanguard; no brown, black, or red shirts; no dictatorship of the proletariat; no new socialist man or even new capitalist man, no John Galt or Karl Marx, just Marketing verboten! Every stage could be skipped so long as no one could any more sell any thing to any one over the mass media. The people would no longer be bribed into bemusement by the poisoned bait of supposedly free entertainment and news or impoverished in a vain attempt to acquire the goods they had been hypnotized into craving. I insisted that the truly soul-destroying welfare of our age is dispensed by corporations, not government agencies. “Pay for it yourself, damn it” was the motto of the utopia to come. “Why do you think Mad magazine used to be so good?”

In the dream, in which I looked rather like Trotsky and dressed in 1920 era clothes, I was self-assured to the point of insanity and just knew that the time had come to move from theory to practice. When the authorities tried to raise objections, I shut them down, Ayn Rand style, with arguments that were absolutely unanswerable because I didn’t give the other guys any good lines—it was my dream, after all. Unfortunately, I can’t remember many of these arguments. I do recall that the establishment politicians accused me of hypocrisy because the brilliant political posters my followers had plastered all over the city were themselves advertisements. I laughed that off, though some of the posters really were pretty alarming, if not so different or more morally dubious than the latest TV spots for Call of Duty. Especially perverse were the parodies of fast food ads that promoted cannibalism, the goofs on cosmetic ads that glorified pederasty, and the take offs on car ads that made serial murder gleam like chrome. “You have woven the rope that will strangle you,” I cackled, thoroughly enjoying the role I was playing. Eventually the officials gave up on reason and tried to arrest me, but they had to flee when the cops switched sides and an enraged multitude surged up the escalators to seize the seat of power, which look remarkably like the top floor of the local Macys. It was glorious. Talk about getting off at the Finland station!

For a while after I woke up, I had to remind myself that I hadn’t really figured anything out at all. I even spent a few minutes thinking of something good to say about advertising. Wasn’t that easy.