Thursday, February 01, 2007

Tyranny of the Uncool

By now you have probably heard about the Great Aqua Teen Hunger Force Fake Bomb Scare. If you haven't, I can summarize it this way- to promote the upcoming ATHF movie, viral marketers placed LED Mooninites around various cities, including Boston (where quite frankly, I would expect them to know better). Somebody who had never heard of ATHF and who did not recogize a little pixelized Space Invader flipping the bird as a cartoon character panicked and called in a possible bomb threat. The bomb squad was called out, much merriment ensued yadda yadda yadda.

Two people have been arrested and are now facing felony charges of placing a hoax device.

What I find so interesting about this case is that if you know what the Mooninites are, then it is clearly not a hoax device at all. However, some square who didn't get the joke decided it was a bomb (which if you ask me also makes him stupid- who places a bomb in plain view and then lights it up in bright green LEDs?). In other words, a person can be charged if somebody thinks it looks like a bomb, not whether the maker thinks it looks like a bomb.

These are interesting times for street artists and culturejammers. There is the Obey the Giant meme, there's Mark Jenkins' brilliant (and slightly creepy) tape sculptures, and there is Invader's use of the Space Invaders Mooninites (to bring it all back around to the ATHF). It is understood among street artists that some people will not get the point- I would argue that causing confusion is the point of most street art. Here, someone who didn't get the joke interpreted it in the worst possible way, and now two people face jail based on that man's stupidity.

Creativity is often lost on the masses. I would not expect someone whose cultural experience is limited to Oprah, Tom Clancy, and pretty pictures to get ATHF. I would not expect someone to get a felony charge for it either.