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Reader Rant: Subway Ads Shouldn't Be Forced On Us

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Dennis Hathaway of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight wasn't thrilled with how he came across on a recent Curbed post, so we asked him to elaborate on why he's not fan of those new Speed Racer ads currently running on the Metro Red Line. Got a rant? Email us. "What's wrong with video ads in subway tunnels? Don't they relieve the boredom of the commute? Aren't snappy graphics and good-looking models more interesting to gaze at than the shlumps across the aisle?

What's wrong, in fact, with these kinds of ads everywhere, on the walls and roofs of buildings, on bus shelters, up the sky in the form of holograms and corporate messages inscribed on artificial clouds? Lining the freeways, the city streets, the sidewalks, the public gathering spaces. The answer is nothing at all, not unless you hold the view that people should have the right NOT to be surrounded by a visual assault in the form of corporate exhortations to buy products or services every time they venture into the sidewalks and streets and other public spaces of the city.

The MTA and city council and other public agencies have apparently decided that this 360-degree, 24-hour assault is a reasonable price to pay to get some added revenue to support their operations. But is an ultimate vision of the city as a canvas to be filled with advertising what the people of the city really want? And who do the public spaces of the city really belong to? There ought to be a full public debate on this question, instead of the piecemeal surrender of these spaces to advertisers whose quest is to make it impossible to escape their sales pitches."