Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sidewalk I.D.

Now and then, more often than one might think, when you are walking down the sidewalk in New York City, you find yourself stumbling into a reality-TV shoot.

Usually, being reality TV, it's something stupid and uncomfortably fascinating. Like a woman dressed in a bacon suit and chattering to a hot dog man. Or a woman and man dressed in towels and tin tutus for a show the PA guy tells you is called "Just Ask Mom," or "What Would Mom Think," or something like that.

(After a bit of research, I'm pretty sure that was food TV's celebu-mom Paula Deen taping the pilot for "Mom Logic.")

September 2009

If you're curious and have time to spare, you might lurk around a bit, listening and watching. But be careful. The production people sometimes carry signs like this:

"By entering this area, you consent to being photographed by means of video recording and you grant producer, carrier stations, sponsors, as well as their affiliated and related entities the right to record and use your name, voice, and likeness worldwide in perpetuity for any purpose whatsoever. In addition, you release the above parties from any and all liability in connection with your appearance and/or for loss or damage to person or property."

Let's repeat that: Simply by walking on a public sidewalk, you have somehow given several corporate entities, including advertisers--like the makers of Viagra and Preparation H--the right to use your name, voice, and likeness.

Into eternity.

For whatever purpose they desire.

If they want to put your face on a hemorrhoid and digitally manipulate your mouth to sing "Baby Got Back" while they machine-gun you with bullet-shaped Preparation-H suppositories, they can do that. And even if it causes you to lose your job and spiral into depression, you can't hold them liable. Really?

It's bad enough the streets are full of photo-snapping bloggers (like myself), cam-happy iPhoners, surveillance cameras, and the Google Streetview car. By now, we're all coming to terms with the fact that we are being watched and recorded much of the time. In public, we can have no expectation of privacy.

But the reality shows? They own your identity. And there is no getting it back.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


In another blow to our public privacy, the new Forever 21 behemoth store in Times Square has installed a digital interactive billboard that You might be walking by or standing around on 7th Avenue when this giant computerized model plucks you from the crowd. On the billboard, for all to see, she actually grabs an image of you.

Then she either kisses you and puts you in a Forever 21 shopping bag, sticks you under her hat, or makes a disgusted face and tosses you over her shoulder.

Naturally, people can't wait to be a part of this marketing stunt. They are crowding around, waving their hands in the air, trying to grab the attention of the computerized lady.

Will you be next?

images and video from DesignBoom