Clearly L.A.’s Dominant News Farce

Corporate advertising art and design without a doubt makes up much of the modern urban environment we move through on a daily basis. It has become so omnipresent that people barely notice it - inciting major advertising corporations to dream up new schemes for attention getting in an ever escalating battle over shaping public opinion. As a result, more than a few aggressively offensive and obnoxious visual campaigns have been inflicted upon us. One that comes to mind is the current ad promotion for L.A.’s local television “news” broadcaster, CBS 2 - KCAL 9. Now blanketing Los Angeles are hundreds of illuminated bus shelters and gigantic billboards that read: “CLEARLY- L.A.’s Dominant News Force.”

Poster advertising CBS/KCAL television news

[ CLEARLY: L.A.'s Dominant News Force - Poster advertising CBS/KCAL television news. Illuminated bus stop shelter on the streets of Los Angeles. A picture perfect example of the Totalitarian Postmodern aesthetic. ]

That the advertising company behind this jingoistic marketing blitz decided on martial language for its promotion is bad enough, but the ruthless slogan is coupled with a militaristic image that conjures up the brutality of war. No doubt the ad execs responsible for the campaign will stand behind the subterfuge that the image simply represents the CBS/KCAL fleet of helicopters flying over the city against a backdrop of L.A.’s ubiquitous palm trees, but look again, what’s that you see - Vietnam?

Posters for Apocalypse Now and Miss Saigon

[ Left: Movie poster for the film Apocalypse Now, depicting a fleet of army combat helicopters on a "search and destroy" mission over the jungles of Vietnam. Right: Theatrical poster for the musical, Miss Saigon. Someone should tell CBS/KCAL that the U.S. lost the war in Vietnam. ]

A quick glance at the official theatrical posters for the musical Miss Saigon, and the movie Apocalypse Now, tells you exactly what served as an inspiration for those ad execs behind the CBS/KCAL campaign, but honestly - someone should tell them that the U.S. lost the war in Vietnam. Or could it be that the CEO’s had the Iraq war in mind when they approved the billboard and bus shelter graphics? Perhaps they hoped that by equating the journalists of CBS/KCAL to U.S. soldiers in Iraq, some of that “support our troops” sentiment might rub off on their broadcast clients. Such an ugly and perverse display of venality coming from the commercial advertising world cannot be discounted.

CLEARLY: The Ugly Reality

[ CLEARLY: The Dominant Force? - US Army Blackhawk helicopters fly over occupied Baghdad, March 2007, in this now widely published photo taken by AFP photographer, Patrick Baz. ]

At any rate, whatever the impetus behind the CBS/KCAL ads might be, they are a picture perfect example of what I like to call, Totalitarian Postmodern, a dangerous aesthetic that threatens and undermines democratic values.

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