CULTUREA Few Wondrous Times Vandalism Did the World Some GoodGina Vaynshteyn

I’m not here to tell you vandalism is OK. It’s usually not, and it’s really actually illegal. I am here to point out that not all vandalism is terrible. In fact, sometimes vandalism is pretty wonderful and inspiring. And maybe a little salty. A few days ago, a group of vandals (or possibly just one vandal, who knows) in Michigan made some alterations to a billboard advertising a plastic surgery group. The billboard, which featured two muffins and the practically non-sensical slogan, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Muffin Top” (side note: who wouldn’t let a friend muffin top? It is THE BEST part of the muffin) was spray-painted over to say “You’re Beautiful,” with (obviously) two smiley faces on the muffins, because everyone loves muffins.

The company, Ann Arbor Plastic Surgery, said they’d meant for the billboard to be comical, stating, “This ad is not to offend anyone. It’s simply to get people to chuckle. To see the lighter side of this ad.” I mean, I personally don’t see anything light, and I’m definitely not chuckling. I’ve had big hips my entire life. I try to love my body as much as I can, but ads like this do nothing to help.

Responses to the billboard’s defacement varied wildly. On Facebook, they ranged from “Love it!!!” to “Tasteless and rude.” Mostly though, commenters were put off by the initial messaging, and with good reason: An advertisement that’s basically saying, “Your alleged extra weight is not desirable, so come and let us chop it off for you!” isn’t supportive or encouraging. Plastic surgery is a totally fine choice if that’s what you’re into, but there are definitely smarter and kinder ways to go about promoting it. Which means, to my mind anyway, this vandal did us a service

So, in the spirit of hooligans-as-heroes, here are eight more awesome cases of benevolent vandalism:

1.  The ‘Don’t Tell Us How We’ll Die!’ vandal:

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I know this billboard is supposed to encourage more dudes to see their doctors, but I feel like AHRQ.gov using a waka-waka stereotype about men and insulting their target audience in the process isn’t the best way to go about it. So, bravo, vandal. You tell ‘em.

2. The ‘Grammar is Still Important, Even if You’re Vandalizing’ vandal.

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No matter what you do, don’t ever get caught mixing up “you’re” and “your.”

3. The ‘I’m Cleverly Using Technology to Make My Point’ vandal.

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Much like the Ann Arbor vandalism, this message was presented to make us feel good about our bodies, as well as critique societal beauty standards and I really dig it.

4. The ‘I’m Going to Make a Political Statement About Free Love, oh by the way, I’m Banksy’ vandal.

Banksy,

Banksy is the God of Vandalism, and he’s really, really mighty. And talented. And believes that love is love, no matter who you are.

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  1. As a resident of Bloomington, IN… St. George is not in Bloomington, Indiana… maybe Bloomington, IL?? Might want to double-fact check that one. Bloomington Indiana is well known for its compassion towards homelessness and drug/alcohol addiction and recovery programs.

  2. Woof. As a reformed grammar snob, I hope we can be less judgmental about little errors like “your’e”, especially if the message is still coming across. And the breast one is interesting — I wonder why they didn’t put the box over the cleavage, since the breasts being advertised are the post-surgery ones? I guess that’s just what I would have done, in the same situation. As for the one about men being stubborn, I laughed out loud, because of the sentiment, “NO WE WON’T;” sounded like a stubborn rebuttal. That ad especially seems insulting, and like it’s trying to pull a reverse psychology trick on people, which adults usually understand just fine, so it would probably backfire! :P

  3. Most of these are clever, and definitely worth leaving up, although I have an issue with a couple of them:
    1. Men not wanting to see their doctors is less of a stereotype and more of a cold hard fact. Of course not everyone feels this way, im the complete opposite. But a lot of men are too stubborn to see a doctor. (Although I do love the comment painted on the billboard).
    2. I completely understand why somebody wouldnt want a treatment center by their house. Ive seen what drugs and alcohol does to people, and ive seen the effects of having a treatment center nearby. It increases the risk of crime and vandalism in the neiborhood.

    All that being said. I love the article.

  4. I wish guys had a “she’s not worth killing yourself over” or “just because you’re male doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the same support” or equivalent. But I know we won’t.

    I can always volunteer. :)