Close your eyes for a moment and imagine the worst possible future abuse by a government over its own citizens. The first thing likely to come to mind for many would be assassination of citizens without due process. Sadly, you will have to think a bit harder; in the US, which so often describes itself as the world’s leading democracy and regularly criticizes the human rights records of other nations, the right to kill its own citizens before allowing them a chance to give their side of the story has already been reserved. Targets are placed on a ‘kill list’ by a secret panel working out of the White House, and their findings are brought to the President, who makes the final decision on whether a suspect will live or die. And not just the suspect, anyone else unfortunate enough to be standing close by when the drone strikes.
It is a fundamental tenet of law in any country that can call itself even remotely civilized that one is innocent until proven guilty, and that no matter how bad something looks on the surface, formal due process must be followed to get to the root of any alleged guilt. The alternative is chaos: lynch mobs and random punishment based on hearsay or unverified evidence. Terrifyingly, the World’s Leading Democracy(TM) now countenances such lawlessness, setting a precedent that other nations are bound to follow, basing their judgments on ‘secret evidence’, while the citizenry are supposed to blindly trust the actions of the same government that has demonstrably lied and orchestrated cover-ups on multiple issues.
[Above: A hip-via-minimal identity for Belkin by Wolff Ollins.]
“Advertising has reengineered our mental associations with wealth in relation to the size and number of actual possessions: opulence and abundance has been rendered as “kitsch,” while minimalism conveys “class.”
Let’s talk about images for a moment. I know we don’t do that on Tumblr. Perhaps because it’s just easier to drop and post, leaving the scene of the meme. However, it is important as message makers to discuss where images come from, why they are shared, by whom, and for what purpose. Now take these cover images for TIME magazine.
[Image: TIME Magazine cover for U.S. December 5, 2011 | Vol. 178 No. 22]
In the U.S. you are given ANXIETY in all caps, bold and black, taking hierarchy over even the magazine title. Then you have some cute cartoon on soft blue that’s supposed to represent the article title (which is misleading in it’s own right—Anxiety is good for us? *as long as we know how to use it?). ANXIETY and FEAR are powerful words to welcome you at the checkout line so you’re pulled in and then given some soothing news as they are actually ‘good for you’. Wholesome, right? Then what about Europe, Asia, South Pacific? The masked young man raising his arm to cross the M out (TIE?), to cross TIME out? In other parts of the world, anxiety looks quite the opposite of ‘good for us’ in that it actually is an anxious image, centered and ALL CAPS as well, albeit of a smaller proportion. The juxtaposition of the two covers calls into question the messaging Americans, citizens of a country created by revolution, are allowed to receive from veteran, so-called news organizations. You can talk about anxiety in America as if it’s a good thing during our own crisis, but you can’t show Egyptians fighting for freedom, equal rights, and a better society. It’s not really the parallels one could draw that are so dangerous to the establishment, it’s the idea that empathy for and solidarity with the Egyptian people, i.e. using our anxiety for change, would tug at the threads of our own controlling system which prevents us from progressing as a society that values truth and transparency. We’re buying the smiling illustration, a cartoonish distraction, and apparently a lottery ticket rather than a photograph that would tell us a great deal about what is happening in the world, in our TIME.
As designers and citizens, we are not beholden to the narrative of the mainstream and it is our duty to find ways to communicate around the apparatus that exploits and perpetuates a misinformed public.
[Image: TIME Magazine cover(s) for Europe, Asia, South Pacific. December 5, 2011 | Vol. 178 No. 22]