Escaping the Mad-Man Jail

As a former practictioner of the dark and dubious ‘art’ that is advertising (12 years in remission and counting…) George Monbiot’s article in the Grauniad: Advertising is a poison that demeans even love – and we’re hooked on it, provides a welcome addition to mainstream attempts at addressing this all-pervasive evil.

Monbiot does acknowledge that his “column is framed by two airline adverts”  (on recent view also a Barclays ad, together with a Join the British Army ad provided by Google…) and further in depth analysis of such issues can, as ever, be found via medialens – an essential antidote to the ad-reliant corporate media – who comment:

“the deeper problem is that advertising is one of a number of filters built into the state-corporate media system that prevent us from accessing corporate unfriendly facts, values and perspectives. People are not even able to see that there are alternatives to materialist happiness. These possibilities are almost completely filtered out, maligned, ignored…”

Among the trolls on the comments section there are further gems: an Orwell quote to match Monbiot’s Huxley quote: “advertising — is the dirtiest ramp that capitalism has yet produced… the rattling of a stick inside a swill-bucket” together with a plethora of illuminating insights and references from commentators such as FreshNews, including:

“If you want second hand valuations of products like tea go to the poets and the artists. Or free the poet and artist from the advertising jail they are locked inside – so many lost poets and artists trapped in advertising. Not all of them have Stockholm Syndrome. Many of them must hate it. Mad Men and all.


“There is something bathetic about young people who come to the realisation that in a society where they are supposed to be able to think freely and assign their own value to life and objects and actions, value has already been assigned to these ‘things’.

Much of my own creative output is fuelled by the experience of developing a conscience (a fatal character trait for any aspiring corporate employee), and my subsequent escape from the mad-man jail. During this rehabilitation I have been blessed to work alongside and help facilitate the speaking-out of young people against the madness that surrounds us, and which is largely targeted at them. One such project is happening this weekend and will attempt to link the creative talents of two amazing groups of young engaged talented artists, activists, poets (from Leeds Young Authors and London-based Shake!) with older academics, artists, poets and community activists to creatively voice their concerns on consumer capitalism, the media, racism, power and other issues of injustice in these youth-phobic times.


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