It blew my mind how good the human mind is at rationalizing itself out of guilt for fucking shit up. I wonder if the blonde haired blue eyed Germans in the third Reich did the same thing. I thought I'd just post a response to all the responses cutting Banksy down for using the same techniques the advertisers do to get his word out.
I am not hugely familiar with his work (Banksy) But I've seen some of it. I like his ability to hone in on truth in a simplistic way that I define as the feeling in the reaction to seeing his work. Generally I feel he manages to reflect on what many of us have grown up feeling but lack the intellectual or creative ability to define.
I also saw his documentary (The oscar nominated one) and I had a very similar reaction.
I like his work, sure. He's a great artist, and he has something to say, and he respects his creative integrity. As an artist myself, I can respect that.
Now, Banksy may use the same techniques as traditional advertisers in some way, but the difference is the content and the idea. Where the "advertisers" use the highly effective method of distribution to essentially promote greed and consumerism which is precisely where the worlds current crises of capitalism comes from. (Growth and greed is the same thing)
Banksy, and other real artists who retain their creative integrity seem to try and use the process to perpetuate ideas that actually make a positive difference to the people who see it rather than making you feel insecure about how much money you have, or what things you own, or what you look like.
Some people may argue that people are intelligent enough not to be brainwashed by a commercial. True. Does one commercial brainwash people? No. Do a million of the same commercial, spouting the same superficial idea, in different forms, over a lifetime brainwash people? Yes.
To pretend this is not the case is like pretending that human beings are not biological computers with a sense of self, programmed through input, that input being reactions to experience which sum totals in this thing we call personality. We are products, and society produces us, wether you like it or not. This is science.
Some people will argue that advertising, good or bad, makes the world go round and that we should accept it as a necessary evil. Well, human slavery used to make the world go around too. (Some argue it still does) Should we bring that back?
Some will argue humans have "always" been greedy and wanted more of what the other person has, and to feed this instinct is only natural. Well, human civilization came about roughly eight thousand five hundred years ago and I believe it was the greeks who first realized the power and influence of the artist and decided to harness that influence for the use of social conditioning. To call that small period of time "always" is stupid. We have existed anatomically identical to now for barely two hundred thousand years and nobody knows what we were doing for most of that time so please open a dictionary and look up the definition of the word "Always".
Existence does not start and stop with your own individual sense of self, or the start of the current ruling empire, the world goes on, and things get better, or worse, and yes, believe it or not people have existed who did not value personal possession above all else. It's just that they got wiped out, by people who wanted all their shit, because they were god damn greedy.
To think that human beings cannot be better than what we are, is antagonistic to the progress of human civilization. To pretend that forwarding a corporate agenda designed for one purpose and one purpose only; to make billionaires richer, to make the average person dumber, and to think that is anything but unethical and just plain wrong, is naive and makes the people who rationalize themselves into thinking this is okay, part of a much larger problem.
Advertising could be a good thing. Like the getup ads for example, and that recent Guardian "Three little pigs" ad. But doing good is not what the advertising industry is primarily used for. Any industry the marketing/advertising world gets their hands on, is eventually dumbed down and sold with product quality and creative integrity becoming a last priority. Artists and creators becoming slaves to middle men who are slaves to the irrational idea of never ending growth.
The film industry is a prime example. Dominated by middle men who are willing to go to great lengths to remove freedom of the internet to protect obscene profits they had no right to be making in the first place, especially if those profits come at the expense of quality.
As for the difference between what McDonalds do and what Banksy does, It's pretty easy to spot the difference, and if you can't, well, then you're a prime example of what is wrong with the current model of corporate advertising.
I myself used to bring in a nice living selling vanity and insecurity to people so they would buy useless stuff they didn't need. It's difficult not to take part in that machine, especially as an artist wanting to make a living. I would rationalize it in just the same way that people like Craig Ward do. But then I woke up, and quit, and now I barely make any money, but fuck all that. My creative integrity is worth more and I'd rather be a prostitute than go back to that world and help make the future a worse place. A prostitute is much more useful to society anyway.
Honestly. Nobody cares if you make most your living doing it, nobody cares if you depend on it. Slave traders made a living too. Great. Good. You're still part of the problem, and although individuals may forget, and maybe not even care, history remembers, and history god damn well does care.
Does Banksy, or anyone else for that matter seem to have the solution? No. Probably not. Does a cancer patient know how to cure cancer? No. But before the cure, comes the diagnosis.