With lockdown regulations having been relaxed a bit here recently, I was this past weekend harshly reminded of one of my Big Dislikes (pet hates) as I peeled off onto the highway in my car. I hadn’t had to look at one of those gargantuan, freestanding advertising billboards for some time, and I was not pleased as I spotted one in the distance, realizing then that within a few kilometers my senses were about to be assaulted in full colour. I could see the thing in the distance, preparing to stare me down as I got closer and closer. There are other things about city living that bother me almost as much, but these Leviathans hold a special (dark) place in my heart. And in these troubled Covid times, they somehow seem even more awkward, ugly and intrusive — out of place and out of step with the times.
For me there is something discomfiting about the way these massive boards occupy whole blocks of roadside or sections of freeway (I have even seen one wrapped around two sides of a school sports field), perched high on their gridwork of metal legs and armature, as if armoured and prepared for battle. The boards are usually rectangular in shape, and in full and overpowering colour, displaying something that few of us could realistically afford anyway—the latest cellphone, the newest luxury car, the most sought after wristwatch or bag or shoes, or whatever. Like something out of War of the Worlds, they look jarringly out of place and definitely imposing and difficult to ignore. All that’s missing is the drama of the screeching of metal as they pull their long, monstrous legs of the tarmac as a flurry of flame and smoke billows up into the sky.
Whenever I look at them it offends me that someone, somewhere, ever thought that these things were a good idea.
So, having recently encountered a number of these eyesores for the first time in weeks, even months, I got to thinking about that thing we call Pollution. We know about air pollution, water pollution, even noise pollution. Well I’m wondering what to call this thing: when you turn around only to find that the landscape is being ruined by one, or several, of these great hulking apparitions. Landscape Pollution? Horizon Pollution? Perhaps those phrases have already been coined. Forgive me—I haven’t checked 😉 And how about ‘Senses Pollution,’ which is what I feel at being subjected to an assault on my senses when I just want to get in my car and drive from A to B, not force-fed the latest jeans and devices from a dizzy height.
And who does one report to in order to raise concern about these matters? Maybe I could start a petition, but not today. For today I don’t feel like taking on the big branding houses who advertise these products, nor the government departments or agencies who regulate these matters, and neither the advertising standards authorities who may have a hand in here too. For today I shall stay home, and feel fortunate that I don’t have to go out and look at these these things bearing down on me, and wish, with all my heart that they could just disappear.♥