For a long time we’ve been seeing the gradual demise of genuine public spaces that goes with the rise of the “me” mentality.
You go into the street and someone on a mobile phone passes by yelling obscenities; you go to a pub restaurant and there’s a group of people foul mouthing at a waiter. So you look at Twitter and someone is off loading every swear word they know on to the social media site – all because these are public spaces and they are ‘the public’.
They are in fact individuals usurping public spaces for themselves. It isn’t ‘free speech’ because free speech is not the same as a lack of basic social intelligence and respect for the rights and wellbeing of others. Free speech has its own in-built responsibility.
Something of this has spread to the equally public space of advertising. Last year bus shelters carried a large advert of a girl in lacy underwear with her fingers on her ... er ... anatomy. Just recently, huge billboards advertising cheap clothing used thick, foot-high letters which represent an obscene phrase. These are unpleasant calculated assaults on public advertising space for the financial gain of certain parties. They degrade everyday life, influence the young and set a worrying precedent for the future, and no-one seems willing to take any responsibility.
In fact, councils are not generally aware of what goes on in public advertising, let alone having a say in it. So it’s left to the public to try complaining to Trading Standards and The Advertising Standards Authority – if they get round to it. This obviously isn’t a completely satisfactory state
of affairs. Is anyone any-where likely to take some responsibility over what gets put up on large adverts?
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