The power of art

Art is subjective – the take out is (and should be) unique to everyone.

An artist’s role should be to create something that provokes a reaction/a point of view – whether it is a validation of the viewers beliefs or contradicts them; the point is that it makes them think and reach.  Yes, they may have been created with a particular perspective in mind but it’s effect will only be impacted by the recipients’ interpretations of it.

Which is why some of the things the people in the talks below have done are very powerful. In my opinion.

Should we all just get our coats and leave?

So Pepsi is launching a new can shape for its Diet Pepsi product (see ad).

However, this has met with some criticism in the press and from certain associations.  Their contention is that the can and advertising messages are promoting the skinny look and offensive to people with eating disorders (either too much or too little).

How the hell are we surviving when so much of our world is offensive? Thin cans are offensive to fat people and bulimic people, Christmas is offensive in that it is not encompassing of all religions and drug addiction prevention ads offensive to drug addicts.  The world has gone mad, I tells you…

At the end of the day, people who buy Diet Pepsi are doing it because they are either on a diet or they like the taste. And when they drink it, they drink it from a can or bottle that says ‘Diet Pepsi’.  So already they are making that statement.  Is the shape of the can really going to change people’s opinion of that person? Will they be shocked?  No, they won’t care and nor should they.  So if people have an issue they should have an issue with the notion of the drink itself and not its container. (For full disclosure, I do have an issue with it as a drink, but one that is purely taste-based).

Let’s think about this .. it is just a bloody can!!!!

This whole debate is illogical and wasting valuable time and advertising space.  Whilst before people would say ‘I won’t buy it on political/social responsibility grounds’ they now use the term ‘offended’ and there is a huge difference between the two.  The first is a personal choice based on your values and morals, the second implies a degree of malice to undermine and cause offense to someone.  I don’t think PepsiCo were going for the latter when developing this.

Personally I think the ads are clever, the message between the shape of the can and the drink within it consistent and the choice of launch occasion inspired and on message.

Rant over, now I’m heading off to the shops to buy some goose fat so I can lather myself in it in an effort to apologies to people with eating disorders who may be offended by my views!

Today’s word – tolerance

So, it is 9 years since the incredibly disturbing but completely unmissable images of the Twin Towers.

Most of us remember where we were when it happened.  I was actually in an IDM-run training course about Microsoft Office (a complete waste of time, but a day out of the office).  I was on my way back from Shepperton with some colleagues when one of them got a call and relayed the news.  We were all in disbelief.  It was unthinkable that two great architectural and cultural pillars were crumbling before our very eyes.

I was at the top of the Twin Towers only 2 months or so before admiring the views with my sister and to think that this was happening seemed surreal.  The next couple of hours were spent watching BBC News waiting for any updates.

The events of that day have been a matter for much discussion by people much more informed than I, so I won’t go into conspiracy theories, etc.

What I think is important is that people recognise that those events shaped the world we live in today – our views on national security, foreign policy, privacy and many other areas.

But more importantly than that I think people need to see it for what it was –  a bunch of nut jobs trying to make a point.  I’m an atheist so have no religious inclination one way or another, but I understand the difference between an extremist and a practicing Christian/Muslim/Jedi-ist.  One believes theirs is the only way, the other understands that theirs is merely a ‘flavour of ice cream’ you choose on the cone we all have (a crude analogy but hopefully you get the point).

I was amazed to hear about the debate regarding the Mosque that was being built at Ground Zero.  If you’ve not heard of it, it’s not really a Mosque and it’s not really at Ground Zero.

I simply couldn’t understand the issue. And the people asking for a ban on the Mosque couldn’t see the irony in their argument.  In the same way that the 9/11 perpetrators were ‘punishing’ people for beliefs and actions of a few Americans, Muslims are now being ‘punished’ for the actions of a few Muslims.

I think people should realise that religion is nothing more (in today’s society) than some guiding principles that people choose to use as and when.  I’ve met a lot of religious people (including family members) who although practicing do not follow the rules of their religion to the Nth degree.  This is because they don’t necessarily agree with them in the context of the world as it is today.  This doesn’t make them any less believers or religious but they understand that not everything that is written is sacrosanct and must be followed.

I’m an apologist for ‘live and let live’ when it comes to religion – as long as you don’t try to push your beliefs on me then we will get along fine.  To that end, we should all just see each other for who we are and what we are about, not solely who we believe in.  I know I’m more than my Atheism, that my gran is more than her Catholicism and that my friend is more than his Christianity.

Let’s remember today as a day that marked the world in an incredible way, where people needlessly lost their lives (then and now) and think ‘Is this the way we really want the world to work for our children?’