Morgan Spurlock’s Vision

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Morgan Spurlock, he of Super Size Me fame, has a new project. He’s asking you, Internet user, to help him assemble a panoramic photo of Times Square . . . but with all the advertising scrubbed away. Because that’s the first thing most of us think when we visit Times Square. Golly, if only this place looked more like Pyongyang!

I’m also not sure what point he’s trying to prove. Wait. I mean I very much know the point he’s trying to prove. It’s just absurd. The aim of the project is to appreciate the glory of Times Square without those crass accouterments of commerce . . . that made the glory of Times Square possible. (Spurlock seems to have gotten the idea from Sao Paulo, Brazil, which banned outdoor advertising in 2007.)

If you think I’m exaggerating Spurlock’s commie sympathies, here’s a fun passage from his 2005 book, Don’t Eat This Book:

Right now, I’m planning a trip to Cuba. I want to experience the country and its people before that Pandora’s box is opened there. Because you know after the day Fidel dies, the shipments of American consumer crap will come flooding in.

Maybe that’s what this project is all about. It’s so that when the damnable day comes that the Cuban people are finally afforded personal, political, and economic freedom, Morgan Spurlock will still be able to visit a magical place where the buildings are bare, the nights aren’t littered with neon, and everyone suffers quietly—but equally—in poverty. If only, sigh, on his computer.

My 2006 Reason piece explaining why Morgan Spurlock and values crusader Ben Shapiro are the same person here.

BONUS: A reader sends this fascinating article from the Wall Street Journal about zoning laws in Times Square. Garishness is actually mandatory.

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66 Responses to “Morgan Spurlock’s Vision”

  1. #1 |  J | 

    re: “Spurlcok” typo in the second to last paragraph. Intentional Freudian slip or no? Enquiring minds and all that…

  2. #2 |  Jonathan | 

    Interesting twist: City zoning requires the massive illuminated signs. http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2010/08/12/tasteful-in-times-square-theres-a-law-against-that/

  3. #3 |  Aresen | 

    Because you know after the day Fidel dies, the shipments of American consumer crap will come flooding in.

    Right. I am sure they will miss their 1959 Buicks.

  4. #4 |  perlhaqr | 

    Arensen: I dunno, there’s a lot to be said for a ’59 Buick.

    Radley: That’s some excellent wordsmithery going on there. I need more snark. FEED ME, SEYMOUR! ;)

  5. #5 |  Steve Verdon | 

    I would love to know what Morgan Spurlock’s income is and how much of that he saves/donates–i.e. how much he spends on consumption. I have a feeling that not only is a raging asshole, he’s also a raging hypocrite.

  6. #6 |  Mattocracy | 

    Let’s take away they very uniqueness that makes Times Square what it is. And next we can go to Yellow Stone and plug up those lame ass geysers next.

  7. #7 |  André Kenji | 

    “(Spurlock seems to have gotten the idea from Sao Paulo, Brazil, which banned outdoor advertising in 2007.)”

    That´s more complicated. What happened is that outdoor advertising in the city was out of control so the city imposed several limits, but you still find ads(For instance, in bus stops). There were really big and ugly outdoors. That´s not the case with Times Square(It also true that some people complained that the city continued to be ugly).

    But I confess that as a amateur photographer I always try to take out ads from my photos.

  8. #8 |  karl | 

    I get the Cuba thing and it’s probably not Fidel-worship (Spurlock can’t be that dumb, I hope). Cuba has been like a time machine cityscape-wise, it’s like being in 1959. Lots of travelers wish they could have been — insert place name here — before it became Americanized. That’s what it’s about. I hope.

  9. #9 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    The over the top advertising is the only reason anyone’s even heard of a Times Square. Take that away and it’s just another poorly designed intersection in New York City.

  10. #10 |  skunky | 

    right, so the libertarian agrees that the garishness is imposed by zoning rules, and also complain that Spurlock would deign to imagine what it would look like without said government diktat. not sure what your point is here other than you don’t like Morgan Spurlock.

  11. #11 |  Highway | 

    I’m guessing that the zoning requirements in Times Square were in response to the idea that companies would want to move into the area because of the good reputation that being in that area would bring, but then get rid of the ads that had defined the character and the reputation that the area had, thereby taking away from that character and perhaps damaging the reputation. So maybe it’s currently ‘imposed’ by zoning rules, but it wasn’t developed by the fact of those rules, but rather developed by the market.

  12. #12 |  Aresen | 

    perlhaqr | February 4th, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Aresen: I dunno, there’s a lot to be said for a ’59 Buick.

    Yeah. Right after I posted, I remembered that there are collectors who will pay a fortune for old cars that are still running.

    Looks like Cuba might have something besides sugar, rum and cigars to export after all.

  13. #13 |  MikeZ | 

    In my opinion Spurlock is an idiot his ‘documentaries’ just seem awful. Still it seems like an interesting little video project and if we didn’t know who was doing it it would be a cool project. Of course Spurlock assumes it will look better afterwards, although I’d guess it would be emptier as much as I think the zoning laws there seem silly, Times Square is sortof known for that. Fenway park wouldn’t be the same without the Citgo sign out in right field.

  14. #14 |  Phelps | 

    In his defense, it’s not like the buildings would be unadorned. I’m sure that giant posters of Dear Leader approve by the Ministry of Information would be featured prominently.

  15. #15 |  Radley Balko | 

    right, so the libertarian agrees that the garishness is imposed by zoning rules, and also complain that Spurlock would deign to imagine what it would look like without said government diktat. not sure what your point is here other than you don’t like Morgan Spurlock.

    This libertarian likes the garishness, at least in this context, but believes it would exist without the zoning rules. This libertarian also supports your right to advertise your business on your own property, but also believes that someone who buys property in Times Square should have the choice to not engage in the garishness if he so chooses. This libertarian also knows that Morgan Spurlock, like Naomi Klein, has said he would like to ban advertising in “public spaces”, by which he means anything he can see from a street or sidewalk. And this libertarian finds that offensive. This libertarian also finds it offensive that Spurlock so values ad-less space and consumerism that he’s willing to turn a blind eye to the suffering of people who live under the only type of regime where banning both is possible.

    Hope we’re all straightened, now.

  16. #16 |  Lucy | 

    karl, I completely get the Cuba-as-time-capsule fascination. I would love to see it and places like Chernobyl myself. But it’s never that benign with these people. There are way too many leftist pro- Cuban government and Castro quotes.

    They missed the part where they sexy young revolutionary became the moldy old dictator. And where no political freedom is somehow worth it as long as there are no billboards…And as long as nobody bothered to ask everybody if it was an okay trade for them.

  17. #17 |  Joe | 

    Morgan Spurlock is a little off base here.

    I visited the Soviet Union. Leningrad had wide open avenues with lovely prerevolution buildings, but virtually no cars on the streets, and all the ground floors boarded up. Ground floor space was not that valuable when you have nothing to sell.

    No adverstising. No McDonalds either. Morgan Spurlock’s wet dream. Most of the Soviet era buildings were monstrocities.

    You have no idea how bad the food was. Overpriced, rancid and just disgusting. But by living on canned caviar and vodka, I did okay.

  18. #18 |  WhiteRose | 

    I think Stormy Dragon has it right. Much too much hype over something can make it famous regardless of it’s insignificence.

  19. #19 |  karl | 

    Lucy, I’m on the moderate left (my definition) with a few acquaintances on the farther left; none of them revere Castro. In fact, it’s the metamorphosis from young revolutionary to old dictator that has disillusioned them the most (although they still tend not to comprehend the historical near-inevitability of that change).

    As for Times Square, I was there several times in the bad old days; I rather liked its seediness and danger, but I was a young and healthy enough to go slumming. If I had to live near a place like that as a middle-aged family man I’d be gentrification’s biggest supporter.

  20. #20 |  DPirate | 

    I would love to live in a world without corporate advertising. Every time I’ve driven from Florida to points north I’ve fantasized about cutting down all the billboards.

    Honestly, I do not know why a libertarian would speak poorly of it. Who pays me for all the advertising I am subjected to? It certainly takes a toll on my psyche – if it did not then it wouldn’t work, and we know that it does work.

    Why should I be propagandized without recompense?

  21. #21 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    This libertarian found Times Square a really unpleasant place to spend even a little time in. Call me neurologically weird, but I’ve never been that uncomfortable in a public space before. The only thing that’s come close was an Las Vegas casino. Times Square was a distracting, incoherent, somewhat painful overload.

    While I certainly wouldn’t want such spaces to be made illegal, I can’t help wondering if Times Square would be less awful if gaudy neon advertising weren’t mandated. There’d probably be less even coverage, with non-advertising areas for contrast.

  22. #22 |  lunchstealer | 

    Hell, I’ve been arguing that we shouldn’t wait for Fidel to die, but to just forcibly end the embargo and air-drop tons of consumer goods into Cuba as a means of destabilizing the regime prior to Fideath.

    Also, if you’re going to discuss commie sympathies, you should always take the opportunity to use the term comsymp. If nothing else, it’ll set the Balloon Jerkoffs into frothy rage, and that’s always good for a giggle.

  23. #23 |  Carl Drega | 

    “Hell, I’ve been arguing that we shouldn’t wait for Fidel to die, but to just forcibly end the embargo”

    It’s our embargo, and we can end it the second we decide to – no force necessary. The reason the Cuban people don’t have a pot to piss in is because they live on a prison-plantation island, where they are essentially slaves. The Castro brothers and their cronies aren’t hurting for new cars or flat screens.

  24. #24 |  derfel cadarn | 

    Times Square is a bunch of commercial bullshit,without the pimps,hookers,junkies and transvertites there is nothing to see here. Move along

  25. #25 |  Marty | 

    20. #20 | DPirate ‘Honestly, I do not know why a libertarian would speak poorly of it. Who pays me for all the advertising I am subjected to?’

    your whole post is sarcasm, right? if I knew you, I’d get the joke?

  26. #26 |  skunky | 

    Radley – appreciate the direct reply to my comment (now that we’re FB buddies), however…

    Not sure Spurlock is advocating a advertising-free world (straw man alert!) that you seem to ascribe to him, and then shamelessly link to passage in a six-year-old book about a desire to visit Cuba. He’s making a point about the crassness of consumerism in general, I think, not about outdoor advertising in particular. Plus, as a society we regulate advertising all over the place. Can I set up a neon sign in front of your bedroom window? Not likely.

    Setting aside the absurdity of our foreign policy towards Cuba that I would hope a libertarian would disagree with, how is Spurlock’s six-year-old passage in a book have any relation to this little project? Does everyone who expresses a desire to visit Cuba pine for a Castro-style government? I mean, I can see the novelty in it without having to subscribe to the government’s ideology… Even North Korea fascinates me, perhaps in the same way a massive head wound’s effects on the brain fascinates Oliver Sacks.

    I think you’re just upset that the McDonald’s portion sizes are within reason these days and you can’t get 3/4 of a pound of French fries with your Big Mac anymore. /snark

  27. #27 |  Joe | 

    I do find the gentrified touristy Time Square disconcerting from the old seedy Time Square of the 70s.

  28. #28 |  dingdongdugong | 

    I’m not sure what Spurlock’s point is with this project, but I’m not ready to get mad at him quite yet. I think it might be interesting to see, and I’m curious as to the results.

    I think it will wind up being so sterile as to be disturbing. Reminiscent of a dying, poor or fascist nation.

    I’m not a huge fan of loud spaces like times square, nor am i a fan of central government planning requiring things of advertisers, banning or gaudy. But I think a lot of us are jumping the gun on this rather tame project that will likely be forgettable.

  29. #29 |  Jane | 

    >> This libertarian likes the garishness, at least in this context, but believes it would exist without the zoning rules.

    As a product of ’80s and ’90s NY, I’d have to say Times Square was far less garish then, at least in the context of advertising. As zoning rules/ regulation/ enforcement changed to favor Disney over burlesque, the garishness of advertizing increased as a response. They’re directly related.

    >> This libertarian also supports your right to advertise your business on your own property, but also believes that someone who buys property in Times Square should have the choice to not engage in the garishness if he so chooses.

    If every building in NY looked like Times Square, would Spurlock have a point?

    >> This libertarian also knows that Morgan Spurlock, like Naomi Klein, has said he would like to ban advertising in “public spaces”, by which he means anything he can see from a street or sidewalk. And this libertarian finds that offensive. This libertarian also finds it offensive that Spurlock so values ad-less space and consumerism that he’s willing to turn a blind eye to the suffering of people who live under the only type of regime where banning both is possible.

    I’d agree; no fan of Spurlock here.

  30. #30 |  BSK | 

    Radley, if all that you said in your comment here is accurate, that would have made for a far more interesting column. Offer links that demonstrate Spurlock’s anti-liberty leanings and you’re on to something. But the simple request to imagine an ad-less Times Square (which I think would be an interesting artistic piece) or a stupid, throwaway line about consumer culture and Cuba just amount to nitpicking. I hate a lot of consumer crap. I’m not suggesting it should be illegal, but is it anti-liberty to have an opinion about it?

  31. #31 |  J sub D | 

    Re: The fascination with Cuba as a “time capsule”.

    This is the kind of thinking that leads to “preserving spiritually pure indigenous cultures” by protecting them from things like 21st century technology, modern farming techniques, innoculations, other philosophies, foreign religions, and wealth.

    Screw that.

  32. #32 |  J sub D | 

    Oh yeah, I agree they don’t make cars like they used to. Thank Odin for that.

  33. #33 |  BSK | 

    JsubD-

    I had an interesting conversation with some friends about that. Many, particularly the neo-hippies, take what you have in quotes there to an extreme. They’d rather watch an elderly woman hunched over picking up dirt off the floor then demonstrate to her what a broom is. The broom is somehow corrupting. Really? Fuck that. I think the emphasis should be on respecting the desires of the people of that culture. If they so choose to reject or avoid modernization, such is their right; it should not be forced upon them because we inherently assume it is superior. But if they are desirous of it, or if it is offered freely and responsibly, I think that is the right course of action. Do we really think it more noble to watch children die because we don’t want to “taint” a culture with modern medicine they’d gladly take? Is it right to insist on maintaining the “purity” of a way of life that lacks running water and suffers from disease, starvation, and dehydration? A lot of people, under the guise of liberalism or whatever political philosophy they claim to ascribe to, would argue yes. Not only are they wrong, but they are so deliberately pompous as to be their own biggest enemy.

  34. #34 |  manic | 

    Some of my favorite posts on The Agitator are the ones about Morgan Spurlock. I can’t stand that guy. I wish you would rip on him more often Radley, he deserves it :)

    In face, the website that first led me to The Agitator years ago was none other than Spurlock watch!

  35. #35 |  Radley Balko | 

    Why should I be propagandized without recompense?

    Why should you be able to dictate what other people do with their property? Why is your delicate psyche more important than the people whom advertising informs about their consumer decisions?

  36. #36 |  BSK | 

    Radley-

    I haven’t seen anyone argue that advertising should be illegal. Only people stating their personal feelings about advertising in general or specific types of advertising. Why do you not warrant a space for contending ideas? I hate Times Square. I had a dining experience ruined because a giant green M&M blinded me throughout my meal. Do I think the M&M store should be shut down until they make a better sign? No. Am I allowed to hate them for having the sign they have? I sure hope so…

  37. #37 |  Radley Balko | 

    I had a dining experience ruined because a giant green M&M blinded me throughout my meal.

    So what exactly were you expecting when you decided to have a meal in the middle of Times Square?

    I haven’t seen anyone argue that advertising should be illegal.

    Then you haven’t been paying attention.

    Spurlock says his inspiration for the project is Sao Paulo, where outdoor advertising has basically been banned.

  38. #38 |  Dana Gower | 

    I personally have questions about property covenants, but some people like them. If like-minded people want to live together in an area governed by covenants concerning what they can do with their property, they should be able to.
    It seems like Times Square is governed by such a covenant. If you’re a businessman and feel comfortable with that, go for it. If not, stay out of Times Square.
    None of this applies to creating covenants after the fact (which, I suppose, you could also argue about Times Square). You shouldn’t be able to impose covenants on people who lived (or owned businesses) prior to the covenants being created.

  39. #39 |  Matthew | 

    Morgan Spurlock shilled for a movie advocating homeopathy and raw-foodism. I have no respect for him.

    Why is your delicate psyche more important than the people whom advertising informs about their consumer decisions?

    Wow, you are so easily blinded by your beliefs. Yes people have a right to advertise on their property – but there’s no reason to extend that to ridiculous claims about how great ads are and how we should all love them.

    Advertising has no value except to the advertiser. If that were not true, we would pay to see ads, not the other way around.

  40. #40 |  Radley Balko | 

    Yes people have a right to advertise on their property – but there’s no reason to extend that to ridiculous claims about how great ads are and how we should all love them.

    I didn’t make any such claim. I said there are people who get value from ads. I’m one of them. I can think of lots of products and experiences that have added value to my life that I’d never have heard of if it weren’t for advertising. That’s nowhere near claiming that everyone should love all advertising.

    Advertising has no value except to the advertiser.

    That’s absurd. How would you know where to find what you needed to buy? How would you find out about new products? It helps when comparing prices. Coupons help people save money. Signs along the interstate let you know where the next gas station is, or where you can find food, and what kind is available nearby. You’re really saying none of this has any value except to the advertisers?

    If that were not true, we would pay to see ads, not the other way around.

    You do pay, with your time. This is why there’s often a premium on ad-free entertainment like HBO or satellite radio.

  41. #41 |  Pete Guither | 

    Advertising has no value except to the advertiser. If that were not true, we would pay to see ads, not the other way around.

    We do pay to see ads, on T-shirts and a variety of other places.

    And spend a little time in Times Square. The newly refurbished TKTS booth at the north end is amazing. One long flight of wide stairs leading nowhere and at night it is packed with people sitting on those stairs who just want to drink in the lights and advertisements of Times Square (and all the other people who are drawn there for the same reason).

    New York realizes that the commercialization of Times Square (along with Broadway and the arts) is good for the economy of the city.

  42. #42 |  Eyewitness | 

    And yet Times Square is nothing compared to the Giza in Tokyo or almost any shopping area in Hong Kong.

  43. #43 |  Eyewitness | 

    Ginza

  44. #44 |  Omri | 

    And unlike Havana, Taos, NM, Galena, IL, and lots of places in Vermont manage to restrict commercial signage severely in order to maintain the tourist-drawing esthetic their towns are known for, without immiserating the population.

  45. #45 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “Signs along the interstate let you know where the next gas station is, or where you can find food, and what kind is available nearby.”

    This is true. I have been helped by these signs many times. When these signs are on public land, I am fine with them as long as those businesses reimburse the public for using their land. Indeed, I hope they pay a pretty penny. Consume a natural resource, pay into public pot. Yes, I have Georgist leanings. Or perhaps I just read Tom Paine thoroughly, including Agrarian Justice (not just the liberatarian sounding parts).

    I am suspicious of adverstising, which is why I usually tune it out. I also laugh at the old Bill Hicks line in which he advises people in marketing to kill themselves. It can be a ridiculous and de-humanizing business. I am especially appalled by some of the research that goes into marketing to children. Disgusting, bordering on pyschopathic. But should it be illegal? No. Those who read The Agitator regularly know what happens when government attempts to enforce a “zero tolerance” policy.

  46. #46 |  Chuchundra | 

    Shouldn’t there be a corollary for Godwin’s Law that covers North Korea? I mean seriously.

  47. #47 |  Kolohe | 

    Shouldn’t there be a corollary for Godwin’s Law that covers North Korea? I mean seriously.

    Yes. And conversely S0MAL1A!1!1!!

  48. #48 |  demize! | 

    I liked Times Square in the days of of Richard’s Aqua-Lung, one of the most interesting dive shops you’d ever imagine, Howard Johnson’s, and the opportunity to Jack off to the media of your choosing for less than a Sovereign Crown. The good old days, the seediness, the possibility of danger, the smell of semen in the air. Seriously NY. was so much more fun before Giuliani. Now it’s a homogeneous bag of blegh that you can get anywhere. As for the ads. Tokyo or Osaka are pretty cool, but you don’t know what the hell they’re selling unless you know Kana and Kanji. But the Chock full o Nuts sign with the steaming coffee and the smoke ring blowing Camel sign where pretty cool in an analog way. I could live without the Phillip K.Dick type stuff ymmv.

  49. #49 |  dhex | 

    both versions of times square sucked. the old version was dark and gross and the new version is bright and gross.

  50. #50 |  SinoMatt | 

    There’s nothing inherently contradictory between liking a square (or country) without advertising and supporting the principle of advertising in general. Pace Radley, quite a few Chinese people enjoy traveling to North Korea in order to view a glimpse of their country’s past. I’m sure virtually none of them would actually advocate doing away with China’s reforms and going back to a North Korean-type situation, but you can’t deny that there’s an inherent aesthetic value in an underdeveloped place. At the very least it’d be pretty damned interesting to see.

    I get your point about Spurlock and see his anti-advertising stance as idiotic but romanticizing under-development doesn’t equal total support for Communism.

  51. #51 |  André Kenji | 

    I live in a suburb of São Paulo. Outdoor advertising per se wasn´t banned, just severely restricted.

  52. #52 |  poopcake | 

    come on, balko. i wouldn’t presume to imagine you’d care, but i think you might be alienating your non-hardcore libertarian readers with this minor, inconsequential shit.

    in short, a somewhat well-known, but not really, documentary film maker (he did that thing about how mcdonalds is bad for you, right? good to know, i’d think, even if you are a libertarian) is doing a project about what times square would look like without the advertising and years ago he expressed a desire to see cuba before it becomes americanized. shocking right?

    i suppose you might feel pressured to throw some red meat to the zealots from time to time to keep up your libertarian cred, but wouldn’t it be better to find common ground with seemingly idealogical adversaries instead of writing people off as pinko liberty-haters because they find mindless consumerism and obsessive materialism a bit unhealthy?

  53. #53 |  t1 | 

    “How would you know where to find what you needed to buy? How would you find out about new products?”

    Are you serious? If I want to buy food, I go to the supermarket. If I want to by a TV I go to Best Buy. Or get everything at Walmart. The idea that people would be stumbling around zombie like without advertising to direct them to the right stores is silly.

    “Signs along the interstate let you know where the next gas station is, or where you can find food, and what kind is available nearby?”

    The sat-nav in my car informs me better about gas/food options than any billboards – and it gives me directions, too.

    “You do pay, with your time. This is why there’s often a premium on ad-free entertainment like HBO or satellite radio.”

    That doesn’t makes sense – pay with your time?? As you say, people are willing to pay a premium for ad free entertainment which means that many people actually spend money out of their own pocket to avoid the bounty that advertisers allegedly bestow on them.

  54. #54 |  JOR | 

    “Shouldn’t there be a corollary for Godwin’s Law that covers North Korea? I mean seriously.”

    Seeing there shouldn’t even be a Godwin’s Law (it’s just stupid) – no. A mention of Nazis/Nazi Germany can be either valid or fallacious, depending on the particular context. If a particular mention is fallacious, then the problem with it is that it’s fallacious, and Godwin’s Law is redundant. If it’s valid (as it sometimes is), then citing Godwin’s Law is just a kind of blank-out or evasion.

  55. #55 |  BSK | 

    Radley-

    You’re being disingenuous. You are twisting peoples’ words and then getting upset when they do the same to you.

    Spurlock is attempting to create a visual project… he has not made (at least not that you’ve provided evidence for) any attempts to outlaw advertising. I sometimes wonder what the Statute of Liberty would look like if it was painted blue… does that mean I want a law passed that requires it to be blue?

    In your follow up posts, you’ve offered more evidence of Spurlock’s philosophy. But the fact remains is that being bothered by advertising does not amount to wanting it outlawed. Whether it is for aesthetic of philosophical reasons, there are many people with legitimate issues with the state of advertising. I still haven’t seen any statements here, on this post, of people advocating for the banning of advertising. For you to attack those who disagree with you as advocating for such is a ridiculous strawman. If people, here on this blog, have said that advertising should be illegal, quote them. If Spurlock has said so, quote him, as opposed to just implying it based on other actions. If they haven’t, then back off the wrong argument.

  56. #56 |  Matt | 

    @ JOR – oddly though the way people use Godwin’s law online is not what Godwin actually said, which was just that as a discussion progresses it’s likely someone will make a comparison to the Nazis. Evaluating the comparison still requires thought.

  57. #57 |  Radley Balko | 

    Hey BSK, before you accuse me of being disingenuous, why don’t you read the goddamned website?

    Here, let me help you out:

    ” . . . Sao Paulo, Brazil has banned outdoor ads as a form of visual pollution. It inspired director Morgan Spurlock to think, why can’t we do it in the U.S.?

    Now it’s true, I didn’t hold your hand and cut and paste this so it would be right in front of you. But I did, you know, link to it. Is it too much to ask for you to actually click on a link and read what you see before you accuse me of “twisting people’s words”?

    Getting really bored with the handful of the leftist commenters here who can’t just disagree without also taking a swipe at my integrity. Consider it a warning.

  58. #58 |  Radley Balko | 

    i suppose you might feel pressured to throw some red meat to the zealots from time to time to keep up your libertarian cred, but wouldn’t it be better to find common ground with seemingly idealogical adversaries instead of writing people off as pinko liberty-haters because they find mindless consumerism and obsessive materialism a bit unhealthy?

    I’m a libertarian. This is a libertarian blog. I post what interests me, what outrages me, what amuses me, and what I find important. I don’t throw out “red meat” to keep people happy or to “keep up my libertarian cred.” Don’t like it what I’m writing? Go find another blog to read.

  59. #59 |  DBN | 

    Don’t like it what I’m writing? Go find another blog to read.

    You’re giving these guys (girls) too much credit. They’re the kind of posters who would tell you to “go to Somalia if you like freedom so much.”

  60. #60 |  BSK | 

    Radley-
    That is tenuous at best and seeing as how it seems to be the sole evidence you have that Spurlock wants America to ban public advertising, it would have been worthwhile to include it in the post, don’t ya think? That was sort of your whole point, wasn’t it? I did click through the links, by the way; the quote you are only now offering was in the “About” section, so excuse me for not clicking through every link on every page to find your point. You are insisting people here are arguing on behalf of banning ads; I haven’t seen anyone make that argument. You then bristled when you felt people were misrepresenting your argument. To me, that is disingenuous. If that somehow makes me a leftist in danger of getting banned here, so be it. You offer little room to disagree, as you go after all those who do, quite viciously sometimes.

  61. #61 |  Maria | 

    I remember driving through East Germany. Not an advertisement in sight, not much color either. Just gray buildings. The concrete and dirt bleakness was in fact quite mentally soothing. Perfect for walking meditation. Or something. *eye roll*

    That said, as a photographer I do find the project interesting; not for the ‘why’ of it but for the ‘how’ and seeing the results. The meta question asked is worth exploring. “What would a place look like if we removed the key visual elements that define it?” Just, I wish it was a wider scoped project not so tightly linked to a single and superficial ideological message.

  62. #62 |  Maria | 

    Also, Spurlock might not have to wait that much longer for empty billboards in times square. Didn’t Slate do a series of photos documenting the recession, and some of them featured lovely empty billboards in times square? (nudist billboards, no Photoshop required.)

  63. #63 |  Radley Balko | 

    That said, as a photographer I do find the project interesting; not for the ‘why’ of it but for the ‘how’ and seeing the results. The meta question asked is worth exploring. “What would a place look like if we removed the key visual elements that define it?” Just, I wish it was a wider scoped project not so tightly linked to a single and superficial ideological message.

    This I agree with entirely. If this were an art project, it would be pretty interesting.

    I also just noticed that to help spread word about the project, Spurlock enlisted the services of . . . a marketing firm. Awesome.

  64. #64 |  Radley Balko | 

    You offer little room to disagree, as you go after all those who do, quite viciously sometimes.

    Tenuous? He specifically says the inspiration for the project was a city that has banned outdoor advertising, then says he’d like to see it happen here. What more do you need?

    And I have no problem with people disagreeing with me. I encourage it, far more than most blogs do. What I’m about finished tolerating is this self-righteous crap from left-leaning commenters who question my integrity and good faith any time I post something that dares to stray into free market advocacy. You accused me of deliberately misrepresenting Spurlock. Had you bothered to first read what the project is about, you’d have seen you were wrong. I’d like to think that would have persuaded you not to put up the comment. But perhaps not, since you still can’t seem to concede the point.

    By the way, whether or not Spurlock wants to ban advertising was not the point of the post. The post was about Spurlock’s contempt for commerce, which is so extreme that the guy can be revolted by the ads in Times Square, yet feel all warm and fuzzy when contemplating a visit to Cuba — and the rather callous and clueless way he overlooks how the government’s approach to commerce is directly related the wide disparity in the welfare of the people who live in both places.

  65. #65 |  poopcake | 

    i used the word suppose because i was making a supposition. in other words a hypothesis or guess or assumption. thank you for edifying me.

    go find another blog to read?
    *sigh*
    and the self-ghettoization of libertarians continues

  66. #66 |  André Kenji | 

    Spurlock could travel to São Paulo to see that there is still outdoor advertising here.

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