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The Decapitator
January 11, 2008 11:56 PM   Subscribe

1. Photograph billboard.
2. Replace head with bloody stump.
3. Affix stump to original billboard.
4. Repeat as necessary.
posted by Partial Law (65 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm utterly astonished that Pimm's is using Oates' last words as the basis for tagline of their ad campaign. It's in significantly worse taste than this stupid vandalism -- which after all has been done before.
posted by Slothrup at 12:05 AM on January 12, 2008


That's quite a disturbing hobby they have there.
posted by gomichild at 12:18 AM on January 12, 2008


Besides, Oates uttered his famous quotation at the South Pole. There ain't no polar bears down there...
posted by Pinback at 12:22 AM on January 12, 2008


Good to see an artist not afraid to stick their neck up.
posted by Abiezer at 12:22 AM on January 12, 2008


This pleases me....yes....very much.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:37 AM on January 12, 2008


I couldn't stop laughing.

Yes, I'm easily amused thank you.

And: It's a physics experiment gone terribly wrong.
posted by IronLizard at 12:40 AM on January 12, 2008


A comic on this decapitator fella at words and pictures.
posted by dabitch at 12:50 AM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


And: It's a physics experiment gone terribly wrong.

I was thinking you were going to link to this.
posted by delmoi at 12:56 AM on January 12, 2008


I think I prefer advertising in public spaces. 'Culture jammers' have absolutely no sense of humour, and I get the feeling they would be the first to join volunteer firing squads when the revolution comes.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:16 AM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm laughing to hard to think about all the very good reasons why I probably shouldn't be laughing.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:01 AM on January 12, 2008


To bolster the point of the comic, dabitch's link has this to say:

In all the articles I've read, we seem to be the only ones who've noticed he targets women over men by a five to one ratio. Neither does anyone mention that, in an ad with both sexes, he decapitates a woman and leaves the men untouched.

I guess my first question for this person is, who says it's a he, besides you? Even if women were decapitated exclusively, why couldn't it be the work of a feminist woman with a sore spot for the portrayal of women in advertising?

Anyways, to address the author's actual charge; unless the webcomic artist has access to more of a sample than we do, I come up with the following;
7 ads are defaced:
- 3 have only women, women are beheaded
- 2 have only men (well, one is a male bee), men are beheaded
- 2 have both genders, woman is beheaded

Even if I thought this was an adequate sample size -- which I don't -- is it really evidence to call him/her a "fucked up misogynist prone to homicidal fantasies"? Surely it is possible that advertising itself just features females more often than males. Two times this mysterious person has chosen to decapitate a woman rather than a man in the same ad, but that may reveal nothing more profound than 'I'm trying to be shocking, and decapitated women are more shocking than decapitated men' or, 'I'm lazy, and the woman's head was easier to photoshop out of the picture than the man's.' Or a dozen other possibilities. If this were a large enough sample to indicate a trend. Which it isn't.

Regardless of whether I like it or not, I'm pretty sure there's more behind this than "Die, bitch."

I won't touch his clever tongue-in-cheek suggestion that you "anonymously mail one of the images to your mom with a note reading "you're next" and see if she calls all excited over her invitation to go culture-jamming." Now he's just baiting me.

KokuRyu: 'Culture jammers' have absolutely no sense of humour, and I get the feeling they would be the first to join volunteer firing squads when the revolution comes.

What gives you this impression? I haven't met a lot of people who self-identify as "culture jammers," but I'm surprised to see someone make this assertion.
posted by churl at 2:13 AM on January 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


Whoops. Obviously "the comic" link should point here.
posted by churl at 2:18 AM on January 12, 2008


I've seen those pictures around online, and they squick me out. urgh. too disturbing. Culture jamming is one thing, but why something so graphic??
posted by divabat at 2:25 AM on January 12, 2008


(hearty gut laugh) BWAHAHHA!
posted by hellslinger at 3:24 AM on January 12, 2008


Culture jamming? I wonder the effect this jamming has on a child walking by.
posted by francesca too at 4:02 AM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


'Culture jammers' have absolutely no sense of humour

Hey, I can hear you, I'm standing right here.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 4:16 AM on January 12, 2008


Culture jamming? I wonder the effect this jamming has on a child walking by.

Someone finally gets it.
posted by strawberryviagra at 4:23 AM on January 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


I guess my first question for this person is, who says it's a he, besides you? Even if women were decapitated exclusively, why couldn't it be the work of a feminist woman with a sore spot for the portrayal of women in advertising?

There are women artists? *shocked*
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:48 AM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Haha I saw that first one on Old Street the other night, but it was dark and I couldn't tell that it had been altered. I remember thinking it was quite an odd ad campaign.
posted by awesomebrad at 5:05 AM on January 12, 2008


It would be more effective if there were vertebrae sticking out of the stump, rather than a femur. Not to mention a trachea, etc.
posted by TedW at 5:16 AM on January 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


meh
not interesting,
not culture jamming,
mere adolescent vandalism
posted by caddis at 5:35 AM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Think of the children.
posted by iamck at 5:37 AM on January 12, 2008


> who says it's a he, besides you?

I dunno -- I have trouble imagining a women going around (virtually) decapitating people. There's something about the vandelism aspect of this kind of "art" that seems (to me) nearly exclusively male. Maybe just a bit of sexism speaking, who knows, but I, too, assume this decapitator fellow is male.

And I also felt extremely uncomfortable looking at his work, especially the ad featuring the man dancing with the decapitated woman. Sure it's just Photoshop, but it still triggered a kind of yuck response usually reserved for nasty sexist jokes. One comment on the Flickr thread reads "that was the least important part of her body" -- it's hard for me to believe that the artist doesn't endorse this line of thinking.

Oh, and saying "but he does it to men, too!" doesn't make it any less creepy, violent, or, yes, sexist. Can you imagine a abuser saying, "but I beat on men, too!" -- yeah. right.
posted by jacobian at 5:49 AM on January 12, 2008


just sayin'
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:52 AM on January 12, 2008


Maybe just a bit of sexism speaking

Maybe.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:54 AM on January 12, 2008


I want to concur with Caddis. I'd prefer to see this as vandalism than culture jamming. However, culture jamming is by definition using commercial media against itself in order to comment about it and initiate dialogue. Technically, this qualifies. By the same token, it underlines the fact that culture jamming IS vandalism. They're not particularly mutually exclusive. To commit to one is to commit the other. When someone draws a moustache on an ad, or spraypaints gang sayings on a billboard, a statement is being made, even if it's "ha ha I'm a vandal lookit my mad spray painting skillz!"

How many days (or hours or whatever) is the vandalized advertisement left there before it's fixed or replaced? Would a decapitated head be left alone for 72 hours or more? What if the pseudo-artistic vandals opted to make it look like a breast was revealed (a la Janet Jackson)? Would that last as long?
posted by ZachsMind at 6:02 AM on January 12, 2008


I'm wondering if y'all aren't putting more thought into the Decapitator's intentions than he/she did.

Ooh! My plate of beans is ready!
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:07 AM on January 12, 2008


Did that neck bone look a little too un-vertabra-like to anybody besides me? I thought I was looking at the condyle of a femur, an odd thing to find in a neck.
posted by pax digita at 6:12 AM on January 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


I like it. And I (over-) think that part of the reason is that the bone coming out of the neck doesn't look quite right. Instead it looks more like the popper that the head of a kids toy might snap on to, almost it's designed to be replaced or popped off. Something about the people (anthropomorphised bees) in the pictures being not quite human?
posted by patricio at 6:52 AM on January 12, 2008


Ugh. I'm kind of torn between how I like the project and how I understand why vandalizing a public sign to show decapitated people might sort of upset a lot of people for valid reasons.

What bothers me is that artistically, it's a somewhat clever idea, and if he, like a real artist would, actually made gallery pieces of this same stuff instead of seeking shock publicity with some kind of public "performance" stunt, he's probably get a lot of well-deserved credit. Instead he's just labeled (probably deservedly) a glorified graffiti vandal.

If he's trying to "culture jam" or "make a statement" he(or she)'s about as effective as people who think drawing a Hitler mustache on Bush's face is the highlight of political commentary.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:10 AM on January 12, 2008


I think it's a pretty awesome and effective prank. Ads here are ubiquitous. They've invaded the public experience to the point that they are now synonymous with it. The fact that they are sovereign and protected by vandalism laws just makes them more insidious and a more appealing target.

To people who are worried about what kids will think, I think you're stuck on the wrong point. A few weeks ago I was in Union Square Station and saw that every single adspace in the whole station had been bought by Maker's Mark. Dozens and dozens of huge posters and banners everywhere you looked, around ever corner and on every wall. All I could think is that any child old enough to read or even notice the ads would probably be very curious as to what this product was and why it was so important. And the ads were smooth and appealing, of course. Even I wanted a drink by the time I got out of there.

The damage is already done. If you think it's disturbing that your kid sees a High School Musical star decapitated on a poster, but not disturbing that your child will be bombarded by dozens of HSM related ads or marketing tie-ins on any given day, not to mention hundreds, or even THOUSANDS of other ads every day, then frankly I find THAT disturbing.
posted by hermitosis at 7:52 AM on January 12, 2008 [11 favorites]


But mostly I just think this "artist" is just trying to be funny. (Successfully, IMO.)
posted by hermitosis at 7:53 AM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


What's in the box?!?
posted by aerotive at 7:57 AM on January 12, 2008


Maybe the vandal is using the non-vertebrae bone in the neck because they're not trying to decapitate the model so much as they're going for a visualization that these models are actually ham hock on the bone.

I tried to find a ham hock on the bone picture online to illustrate my point, but unfortunately i came up bone dry (yuk yuk yuk). Back when I was a child, occasionally in Looney Tunes cartoons when a character had been acting particularly stupid, their head would turn into a large chunk of smoked ham with a big bone jutting out of the top of their head. It appears presenting meat in this manner has fallen out of favor. IF the vandals are going for this look, they're reaching for an obscure reference that no one's getting. So the message is being lost. If they're doing the decapitated thing and they're not going for the ham hock reference, I have no idea what they're trying to say.

If they'd make the femur bone a lot larger, it'd be funnier, and would make a more poignant statement about how human beings are used as brainless props in advertising.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:59 AM on January 12, 2008


i have a hard time calling 'defacing' a public, temporary, advertisement "vandalism." The vandals burned Rome or at least broke some windows. it may be adolescent but the biggest adolescents in the world work in advertising agencies and marketing divisions, so who's to say which fantasy of the world is preferable...
posted by geos at 8:32 AM on January 12, 2008


Jacobian, you've established that you're sexist, but the argument about the Decapitator's alleged sexism is looking pretty weak. By arguing that someone who doesn't discriminate on grounds of sex would be a sexist, you're undermining your own point.

Getting people to look at familiar, banal images in a new way by juxtaposing them with darker elements has a noble history. Look into surrealism, for example.
posted by infobomb at 8:46 AM on January 12, 2008


How mildly amusing.
posted by LarryC at 8:47 AM on January 12, 2008


A weirder hijack would have been to simply photograph a portion of the image somewhat off-axis, then paste the resulting image back on, for a Cubist effect.

*not femurist*
posted by Tube at 9:12 AM on January 12, 2008


Vandalism? Seriously? Dear god people, it's advertising. It has no worth to begin with, how the hell can it be vandalized?
posted by aspo at 9:51 AM on January 12, 2008 [7 favorites]


I'm laughing to hard to think about all the very good reasons why I probably shouldn't be laughing.

Here, I'll help: You might laugh your head off.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:57 AM on January 12, 2008


Culture jamming? I wonder the effect this jamming has on a child walking by.

It's always interesting to me how the things kids are actually traumatized by is rarely what adults assume. Kids understand the concept of fantasy and make-believe better than we do sometimes, and they think it's funny. Especially since this is kind of cartoon violence... they know that people can't stand around drinking hot cocoa with their heads cut off.

The stuff that scares them is the stuff that's not clearly fantasy... things that might actually injure their moms & dads or something. For example, give them proof that people with common head colds are in serious danger of having their heads explode. For a little kid, that commercial is made for serious adults and the idea that a head cold will turn human heads into balloons is probably a lot more nightmare-inducing than a Ashley Tisdale with no head. 'Cuz... duh... nobody's gonna take Ashley Tisdale's head. (Her nose, maybe. But not her head.)
posted by miss lynnster at 10:15 AM on January 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


世风日下。
But still, part me finds it delightfully brilliant.
posted by geekyguy at 10:18 AM on January 12, 2008


Decapitation is as decapitation does, but the idea of reclaiming our public space by appropriation of the means of production is pretty nifty. What's cool about it is the seamless technique, not the content. You could imagine doing this to make everyone in the ads look like Pee Wee Herman, change their race, add flowers for eyes, turn the heads int giant penises, whatever floats your boat. You could do really interesting things with taglines, if you're good with fonts.

Re jacobian's "I dunno -- I have trouble imagining a women going around (virtually) decapitating people" - dude, I'm doing it right now.
posted by DenOfSizer at 10:28 AM on January 12, 2008


If you think it's disturbing that your kid sees a High School Musical star decapitated on a poster, but not disturbing that your child will be bombarded by dozens of HSM related ads or marketing tie-ins on any given day, not to mention hundreds, or even THOUSANDS of other ads every day, then frankly I find THAT disturbing.

What I really find disturbing is the culture that habituates a child to gore and violence. There are ways to teach a child to differentiate reality from the gratuitous exagerations of advertising and marketing. A child overexposed to gore and violence will eventually come to accept that as natural aspect of human life instead of the aberration that I still hope it is.
posted by francesca too at 10:36 AM on January 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


it would be a whole different ball of wax if it was a remotely accurate portrayal of a decapitation.* but it's not, and for me it's too cartoonish to be truly effective in a culture-jamming kind of way.

the "think of the children" crowd make me very, very cranky. *skuttles off*

*unfortunately, i have a lot of experience with this; i used to be the director of an animal shelter, and whenever an animal came in that was involved in a bite situation, we usually had to send the animal's head off to the board of health to test for rabies. i can tell ya, this guy's "rendition" of decapitation ain't too spot-on.
posted by CitizenD at 11:13 AM on January 12, 2008


francesca too: an adult is an adult. they have the ability to take in the culture around them. if they, after having done said culture appraisal, choose to still bring a child into that culture, then it's on them.

don't ask others to change their behavior on behalf of some faceless victim-child. it's narcissistic, it's dishonest and it's modeling bad behavior for those very children you want to cherish. bringing a child into this world is -- or, should be -- a very purposeful act. far, far, far too many think it is their right, and that the rest of the world should then be tailored to their needs.

see? very, very cranky. *skuttles off for real this time*
posted by CitizenD at 11:22 AM on January 12, 2008


KokuRyu: 'Culture jammers' have absolutely no sense of humour, and I get the feeling they would be the first to join volunteer firing squads when the revolution comes.

churl: What gives you this impression? I haven't met a lot of people who self-identify as "culture jammers," but I'm surprised to see someone make this assertion.


It's based on the violence found in many culture jamming projects like this one, as well as the radicals' belief that he or she holds absolute moral authority.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:46 AM on January 12, 2008


A child overexposed to gore and violence will eventually come to accept that as natural aspect of human life instead of the aberration that I still hope it is.
Why do you think this?

I'm not claiming you're necessarily wrong. But why do you think it?
posted by Flunkie at 12:08 PM on January 12, 2008


My comment is rather boring. Sorry. I admire the subversion of advertising and I admire the, er, execution; but I'm not sold on quality of the main concept or its suitability for public space. Thanks for the post, though - interesting to know that it's happening.
posted by nthdegx at 12:27 PM on January 12, 2008


Culture jamming? I wonder the effect this jamming has on a child walking by.

I wonder what effect advertising has on a child walking by.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:42 PM on January 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


It's a bad thing to smash windows, but it really brings to light the dishonesty of all those shopkeepers -- and isn't that ultimately the more important issue? Hitler.
posted by fleacircus at 1:08 PM on January 12, 2008


I love this so much I want to marry it.
posted by cazoo at 1:35 PM on January 12, 2008


Think of the children.

Humm, good point. I see he's gone for adults exclusively. He should fix that.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:04 PM on January 12, 2008 [6 favorites]


But why do you think it?
What makes me think that is that abused children (and spouses) tend to see themselves as deserving the abuse: they become accostumed to it and see it as part of everyday life. Same thing with violent movies: young children are scared initially, but become used to them.

I do not particularly mind shock art, but I would prefer it in a gallery, not at a bus stop. I do believe children should be protected until they are at least able to distinguish fantasy from reality.
posted by francesca too at 2:48 PM on January 12, 2008


A child overexposed to gore and violence will eventually come to accept that as natural aspect of human life instead of the aberration that I still hope it is.

But it's both. It always has been.
posted by IronLizard at 5:48 PM on January 12, 2008


Flickr is getting a massage?
posted by msali at 6:20 PM on January 12, 2008


Not only that, but every now and then Flickr gets caught up in the massage parlor raids. Embarrassing, to say the least.
posted by IronLizard at 7:32 PM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's a decapitated cartoon bee with a femur sticking out of its... thorax? something? And I think it's sort of hilarious. The grosser human ones, a little less so and I concur that I'll pay every member of this thread $5 if the artist turns out to be a woman (if it's a collective, no deal)

I wonder what effect advertising has on a child walking by.

Exactly.
posted by jessamyn at 7:41 PM on January 12, 2008


Like many above me, I'd be more concerned about the subtle and pervasive effects of advertising on a child than cartoonish gore.
posted by sleep_walker at 8:26 PM on January 12, 2008


Also, regarding the article at Words & Pictures, I notice that one of the banner ads linking to the merchandise section features a headless woman's torso, the underside of the breasts exposed and the site's logo emblazoned across the top (I found it on the archives page).

Perhaps not as overt as a cartoonish stump, but rather hypocritical given the tone of the article.
posted by sleep_walker at 8:39 PM on January 12, 2008


children are not delicate little flowers that owe being saved from every little thing. let's think back for a second - what were you protected from as a child? I was protected from pretty woman (the movie). my parents made me close my eyes because whatever it was was TOO AWFUL for a kid to see. until i saw the movie a few years ago i just assumed that julia roberts polished richard gere's knob in full view of the cameras. imagine my disappointment when the facial wasn't forthcoming.

and the people crying SEXISM are like the people calling anti semite in the askme thread about 'my mother in law baptized my babies". if something happens to a woman and then happens the exact same to a man - the person exhibiting that behavior by the very definition isn't sexist. i know it's tempting to yell the ism/ist that you identify with when you feel anger but find new words to express your outrage, those just make you look like an idiot when they don't apply.
posted by nadawi at 9:08 PM on January 12, 2008


as well as the radicals' belief that he or she holds absolute moral authority.

But what makes you think that? Clearly they believe they have as much moral authority as the advertisers, but there is nothing absolute about that.
posted by Chuckles at 12:16 AM on January 13, 2008


Wikipedia: Lawrence Oates
Oates, recognising the need to sacrifice himself in order to give the others a chance of survival, deliberately left the tent to die in a blizzard, saying: "I am just going outside and may be some time".
That's a pretty fucked up ad.
posted by ryanrs at 12:19 AM on January 13, 2008


Miss lynnster: Those Sudafed ads give me the creeps and I am 44 years old and work in an operating room.
posted by TedW at 4:12 AM on January 13, 2008


sleep_walker, it looks like you got a reply on words and pictures regarding that banner ad.
I hope I'm not the only one who sees a difference between a photorealistic image of a gushing neck stump and a cartoon cropped to highlight the T-shirt we're selling. Any interpretation of symbolic decapitation is completely unintentional, just as today's comic was never intended to suggest leglessness. If anything, it was meant to suggest that we are socially maladroit idiots with an encyclopedic knowledge of '80s cartoons. In this, I think we have succeeded.
posted by dabitch at 5:13 AM on January 21, 2008


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