Magazine article The American Prospect

Everyone's a Critic. (Devil in the Details)

Magazine article The American Prospect

Everyone's a Critic. (Devil in the Details)

Article excerpt

SINCE AS FAR BACK AS THE 1920s, Times Square has been home to a mind-numbing array of billboards and corporate logos, their neon vapidity lighting up the night. So it seemed altogether fitting and proper when Adbusters, a magazine that defines its mission as talking back to consumer culture, placed its own billboard--an American flag with 30 corporate logos taking the place of the stars--above a theater near Times Square. A graphically apt summation of the megarole of the megacorporation in present-day American life: more punchy than an essay; less painful than performance art.

But there are art critics and deranged patriots everywhere, as the folks at Adbusters were soon to discover. In the aftermath of September 11, someone phoned an FBI "tip line" with the hot lead that this billboard in Times Square was either un-American or anticorporate or--anyway, there was something screwy about the stars. And so it was that in late September, federal agents paid a visit to the theater gallery on whose marquee the flag was emblazoned. …

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