Department of unintentional irony


Machetera doesn’t normally like to use her vast and powerful publishing empire to draw even more attention to the ridiculous publicity stunts of Reporters Without Ethics Borders, but yesterday’s “Online Protest” against Internet censorship demonstrated such an astonishing level of foolishness, not only on the part of RSF but on the part of the ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi Interactive, that produced it, that she feels obliged to say a few words.

If it were not for the fact that RSF probably isn’t paying Saatchi & Saatchi anyway, thanks to the agency’s fat contracts with the U.S. Army and Bacardi, Machetera would suggest they be fired. Who, after all, thinks up an online protest against Internet censorship and then refuses to allow participating protesters the freedom to create their own banners? Well, the same people who think appropriating graffiti as an advertising vehicle is a clever trick. It’s propaganda exercises like this that make the U.N. leery of associating itself with RSF in the first place and keeps getting RSF slapped. Not that Robert Menard, RSF’s “Secretary For Life” is going to stop trying to ingratiate himself with them.

What happened when one showed up for yesterday’s online “protest,” to which RSF submitted itself like a doormat for an entire day? The first screen invited visitors, in French, and then in English, to enter, whereupon a second screen with a spinning earth and moon inexplicably presented itself. (Will web surfers be invited at some future date to a moon-based protest?) After a certain and not insignificant period of time, a menu with a list of nine countries on the RSF blacklist came up. Interestingly, the U.S., which has recently blocked 577 websites through a Treasury Department blacklist, was not among them. Upon selecting one of the nine countries in RSF’s self-created axis-of-evil, one was treated to a screen that simulated a flight through clouds and blue skies, until one landed in enemy territory. Alas, if only it were that easy. Machetera would have enjoyed the interactive session more if it had also included a nasty and intrusive U.S. customs interrogation on her return – it would have been more believable.

The fantasy didn’t end there. From Kim Jong-Il Square to Havana’s Capitolio, one was invited to select from a list of Saatchi & Saatchi created slogans, such as “Internet for everyone, not just for tourists,” or “No to state censorship”. Thinking that the end of state censorship, not to mention privately-owned press censorship is in general, a good idea, Machetera selected it to see what would happen next. Among a set of agitating paper dolls holding signs, Machetera’s slogan suddenly appeared on one of them.

Again, no chance of a paper doll on the Washington DC mall.


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