Some of you may know who Marc (no “K”) Ecko (no “H”) is. Most of you probably don’t and this has Mr. Echo very upset. You see he’s not just the founder of Ecko clothing. He not just the man who has been included on Details list of “Most Powerful Men Under 38” (38?), DNR’s “Power 100 List” and Crain’s New York Business “40 Under 40” list. He's also the man who has a message to get out about free speech.
For starters released the graffiti-themed video game “Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure” to lackluster reviews. But, to really get your attention, he created a video of himself tagging the engine of Air Force One with the words “Still Free.” By the way, the video can be seen on his web page StillFree.com.
Why? What's his message? He claims to have tagged the aircraft in protest to laws against outdoor art--like graffiti. But the video was just a hoax. As the website explains it was created “to induce you, the viewer of the video, to think critically about freedom of expression and speech and the government's responses to the same.”
I don’t get it.
Ecko also generated controversy in Toronto when he revealed himself (revealed, like Batman) to be behind the spray painting of letter X’s on everything from sidewalks to businesses. He claimed to have expressed himself in this way to promote his then-upcoming grafitti-themed video game.
But what I find most ammusing about Ecko’s whole graffiti free speech campaign is the legal disclaimer found on his web-site.
Marc Ecko Enterprises does not condone illegal activity, acts of vandalism, or the destruction of other people's property. We do, however, advocate freedom of expression, graffiti as a recognized art form and the protection of consumer rights regardless of age, race, religion or political affiliation.
Yes, Ecko represents a new brand of rebel: one that comes complete with a legal disclaimer. Today's hip, modern protestor withdraws support and protests just enough to not break the law or get in trouble. Enter: the legal disclaimer which, by definition, is a repudiation or denial of responsibility or connection. Ahh, the perfect tool for the person who wants to be socially active yet keep his franchise safe and sound. I’m sure we can all look forward to free thinkers promoting progressive ideas with their legal disclaimer close at hand. I for one welcome the new trend. I felt protest messages to be too sincere, their reprocusion far too real.
This made me wonder what if all great protestors had waited for their legal team to write a disclaimer before getting the word out?
I have a dream*
*Martin Luther King does not condone illegal activity, acts of vandalism, or the destruction of other people’s property.
We the people...*
*Thomas Jefferson does not condone illegal activity, acts of vandalism, or the destruction of other people’s property.
Give me liberty or give me death!*
All we are saying is give peace a chance.*
The thing worse than rebellion is the thing that causes rebellion. *
Wow, protest messages in conjunction with legal disclaimers seem totally lame. It kind of takes the sting out of the message. But let’s face it, corporations are never going to get behind someone who does not have a legal disclaimer. It’s just too damn risky!
Fat Cat: “We’re terribly sorry, Mr. King, we can’t be a sponsor at your next march until you have a legal disclaimer. You understand, right?”
Fat Cat: “Mr. X, we can’t print any more t-shirts until you have a legal disclaimer. You understand, right?”
And it’s a good thing that Ecko only adheres to “recognized art” as his form of expression. Otherwise maybe his activities would be considered vandalism or just annoying. Exactly which organization sanctions what art is “recognized” and what is not? Isn’t that kind of value judgment about artistic expression itself at odds with the nature of art? Not to mention free speech?
I’m sad that even our protests or our message has to be approved by a legal team. I guess for any protest message to be worth anything it must go the way of big business: hype, mission statements, and legal disclaimers. (see: Woodstock '94, Woodstock '99) There's something wrong with our generation. Something is very, very wrong with us.
Personally, I think we should demand more from our modern activists. I propose a boycott on their products—their DVDs, their t-shirts, their bumper stickers, their mailing lists—until they toss those legal disclaimers out. You don’t need The Man to approve of your message, dude. That’s the whole point.*
*Thoughtalarm does not condone illegal activity, acts of vandalism, or the destruction of other people’s property.