Necrotic Toxicity

Saturday, December 02, 2006

"Watch Bono's video. Join Red. You Can Help Save Lives In Africa". Is this a joke? It is not. But it has the structure of a joke: specifically the one about the three drunks on the train, where the first says "Is this Wembley?", the second says, "no, it's Thursday", and the third says, "So am I; let's go down the pub". I'm pretty sure that the last time I read this joke, it had more exclamation marks in it and fewer semicolons. However, I'm not telling it to be funny: I'm telling it to illustrate a point about non sequiturs. A non sequitur is when someone says something like "watch Bono's video", followed by "buy a new mobile phone", followed by "this goatskin-clad tribesperson will now be given the drugs he needs to stop him from dying of AIDS". The entire scheme is a kind of moral Rube Goldberg contraption, except that the array of gears, pulleys and widgets connecting the supermodel's GAP jeans to the Maasai warrior's medical care has none of the joyful redundancy of Goldberg's diagrams: every bit of that mechanism has a purpose, and that purpose is - oh, have a bleeding guess.

Bono & co's "Red campaign" even has its own "manifesto". I don't recall that the communist manifesto was written in rasping marketroid-speak, or that it consisted largely of such portentous absurdities as "what we collectively choose to buy, or not to buy, can change the course of life and history on this planet", but perhaps a rewrite along those lines is indicated. Start off enigmatic - build a bit of a buzz - get a viral campaign going, visuals by Banksy, loads of little teasers hooking people into the website ( Then we unveil the value proposition:

Until now, no matter which society you chose to live in, it was nothing but struggle, struggle, struggle all the time. The landowners oppressing the peasants, the peasants revolting, the bourgeoisie exploiting, bo-ring! I just want to get on with my life! Well, with revolutionary new Communism, you can say goodbye to all that fuss and hassle - forever.

What do you reckon? I think it's got legs...


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