Guerrilla artist Steve Lambert declares war on advertising.
In one of the greatest Simpsons episodes ever–yes, I said it–the town of Springfield finds itself literally besieged by an army of advertising character-zombies. The marauders in “Attack of the 50-foot Eyesores” are but barely disguised caricatures of formerly ubiquitous ad mascots (the Big Boy from Bob’s Big Boy becomes “Lard Lad;” the Pep Boys, “Zip Boys”). As the walking, anthropomorphic product pitches close in, Lisa finally figures out that the way to defeat them is for the townsfolk to turn their backs on the monsters and refuse to look at them. Lard Lad, along with all of the other boardroom-created Frankensteins, ultimately suffocates from lack of attention.
Despite the scarcity of Bob’s Big Boy and Pep Boys in the modern retail landscape, it’d be wrong to dismiss this episode–a sketch in 1995’s installment of the annual “Treehouse of Horror” special–as dated. In place of the aforementioned icons, just insert a sassy, Cockney-accented reptile or a giant, yellow smiley face. We’ve failed to heed the parable of Lard Lad.
Steve Lambert is trying his damnedest to make us look away. A guerrilla artist and senior fellow at the Eyebeam Art & Technology Center, a cutting-edge art collective in Chelsea, Lambert is also the founder of the Anti-Advertising Agency, a group whose mission is to “co-opt the tools and structures used by the advertising and public relations industries…to call into question the purpose and effects of advertising in public space.”