Strange Festival

The latest installment in the commodification and appropriation of our culture: Acura’s commercial for their 2016 MDX.

This one is longer but without sound:

Diddy did it first:

In 2006 Lexus created controversy with an ad campaign featuring the Belgian Waffle from Burning Man.

lexus waffle

And who could forget these giant advertisements at Burning Man:

bummer hummer 2008


tesla prototype 2007

Image: Duncan Rawlinson/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Duncan Rawlinson/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: jojomelons/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: jojomelons/Flickr (Creative Commons)

iphone 2013

Image: Curtis Simmons/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Curtis Simmons/Flickr (Creative Commons)

google doodleBack in the day, at least they took a stab at irony:



Image: Hiker Carl

Image: Hiker Carl


17 comments on “Strange Festival

  1. Pingback: Jonas Brother Latest Celeb to Ride Burning Man Wave | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  2. Appropriation and commodification of our culture by corporate interests is obviously a problem and is going to pop up more and more. That said, the inclusion of the iPhone Viewer and Temple of Facebook (I can’t recall what either were actually called) as examples of this is neither fair not accurate. These are two art pieces which are specifically criticizing the default-world’s growing embrace of experience-by-proxy and it’s incursion into the playa-culture.
    They are both at the same time showcasing and defying corporatization, commodification, and our (Burners especially) own growing reliance on technology and documentation to validate experiences.
    I won’t speak to any of the so-called art cars in this post, but knowing the story behind these other two pieces and the artists behind them, I did not want to let their works go maligned without comment.

    • I’m going to make a giant can of Red Bull art installation. It won’t be an advertisement for Red Bull, because it will be ironic. I will be showcasing corporatization and our reliance on consumer products to give us wings. At the same time I will be defying corporatization, because you can’t actually buy Red Bull at the installation. Everyone can pose next to the giant can of Red Bull for photos, which will be picked up in newspapers all around the world. I will be hailed as a genius artist for my powerful statement about commodification. Employees of Red Bull will fund the project via my Kickstarter, because they are art enthusiasts also. It won’t be corporate sponsorship or advertising, because of the hilarious joke: “It’s a can of Red Bull, but doesn’t actually have any Red Bull inside it! Ha ha brilliant! That’ll show the corporate world not to commodify Burning Man”

      • Not a good analogy because the Facebook and iPhone installations were actively engaging with the surroundings, making a comment on “liking” and viewing life through a smartphone screen, respectively. I thought both were clever. Your example is static. It’s not a one to one comparison, it either works or it doesn’t.

      • “Back in the day, at least they took a stab at irony…”

        Look, I get your point and I don’t disagree that there are insidious elements to be found here with an aim towards commodification and corporatization and the selling to/of Burners. Financially backing installation art and mutant vehicles, sponsoring theme and/or PnP camps with supplies, recreating Burner culture on a commercial set (or worse, doing a commercial shoot at BRC itself), etc.–these have all happened and will continue to occur as That Thing grows. This does not mean though that an installation which features or references a commercial product is endorsing, sponsored by, or promoting such things. I mean, what are the chances that Mattel had a hand in creating Barbie Death Camp?

        Although these pieces rely on the ubiquity of both Facebook and the iPhone as products and brands in modern society, I don’t think either actually has very much to say in regards to Commodification-Decommodication. They are instead speaking to the 10th Principle–Immediacy–and the use of intermediaries to relate to, validate and enshire experience. How many Burners – old and new alike – have at some point engaged in this very thing? The installations could have been in the shape of an old nondescript disposable film camera and the point would have been the same, albeit rather dated and irrelevant.

        While I’d say the iPhone and Facebook installations are both inherently–and successfully–ironic and reflective, I’d argue that both McSatan’s and Bank of UnAmerica are fine examples of satire but are in fact completely absent of irony.

        Nevertheless, while people may disagree on interpretation, originality, or how clever or meritorious all these installations (or any piece of art for that matter) may be, I think we can probably agree that art as social critique does not require a sign, artist bio, statement of intent, or other overt explanations to qualify as legitimate.

        (Sorry for the reply 3 months after the discussion was ended)

  3. Really it just says Acura drivers are feeble, close minded, douchbags, so it doesn’t seem like great advertisement for them. Anything that tells “normies” not to come is a good thing in my book.

  4. They left because they didn’t see an rich guys lining up to take care of their sparkle pony asses.

    I did like the people dancing in front of the mirrors, suggesting the vanity of the participants. They got that right.

  5. Meh…the Burn isnt everyones cup of tea. Spas are nice too. If anything, Acura is just gonna alienate a few hundred thousand potential customers.

  6. This is totally fake. The boring rich people didn’t stay and ruin it for everybody else.

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