When really questionable public art or public imagery goes up in Los Angeles, we always have to scratch our heads and ask what exactly is going on. When something goes up en masse and totally takes over the city *and* looks a bit off, we have to know what is going on so we know exactly why we have to see silly advertisements or “art pieces” for a few weeks. The latest invasion of WTF advertising in Los Angeles are all these 1990s Bubblehead visuals that have taken over the former locations of the quaint and beautiful flower bus bench photos and vacant building sides. They are absolutely everywhere and it feels like no one really knows what the hell they are or what they are for or why they are so ubiquitous in 2013. Let’s dig into this to see what exactly this “Bubblehead” stuff is.
The pieces are apparently advertisements made by “street artist” Mike McNeilly that are made to help “the public do the right thing on important issues that impact our lives.” This is all according to a press release floating online, of course. These new pieces are linked to previously shared Bubblehead posts that have appeared Downtown, at Sunset and Vine, and on the Walk of Fame in the past few years. Now, they are just everywhere.
This girl–Bubblehead or Mystery Girl or Robyn–is also apparently the star of a new video game or something that is coming out god knows when according to another strange press release. She has a Facebook with hundreds of thousands of Likes (HOW??) and a Twitter that follows suit (HOW???). She shares more views of her and runs by the motto, “Right is Right and Wrong is Wrong…Justice for the Unjust…No Rest for the Wicked.” You can catch a little of her video game self in action in a video below that was released through their very watched (H O W.) YouTube page.
This all seems very suspicious. Why? First off, all these weird and robotic and super weird PR releases that are trying to build buzz around something that no one is picking up on. (Example, example, example, example, etc.) Sure, yes, lots of strange billboards and bus advertisements pop up in Los Angeles that are just there to be there and nothing comes of them but these Bubbleheads are everywhere and they all look different and they all seem like they were made in 1994 on a Packard Bell and are only now seeing the light of day.
Oh: Mike McNeilly, famed “street artist”–who is he? Remember those fucking nightmarish Statue of Liberty supergraphics? That’s his doing. He apparently is the man behind supergraphic manufacturing company SkyTag. He’s the guy who brought upon the Los Angeles supergraphic ban a few years ago with his Lady Liberties, who–like Bubblehead–were just up to be up. Neither are street art, neither are particularly cutting edge, and neither appear to be serving a function aside from confusing us all. It also should be noted that both “art pieces” appear branded with the year 1969.
Oh, oh, oh: apparently this all started in 1995 in New York with a questionable and flawed AIDS awareness Bubblehead mural. Like the advertisements now, they are flawed and self-serving. The best response to them (and one of the only because no one seems to care about these public eyesores) was via a 1995 New York Times Letter To The Editor. We’ll let Manhattanite Penny Jay’s response speak for itself…
Shame on you for filling us in on the 200-f00t-tall, huge-breasted blonde vamp painted on Park Avenue South to encourage the use of condoms (“No Getting Bubblehead’s Number,” March 26) but failing to mention the fact that this mural is outrageously sexist, degrading and hurtful to all women. Since men wear condoms, why not paint a mural of a 200-foot-tall jock with his crotch bulging toward Park Avenue South?
We feel you, Penny…and almost twenty years have passed!
There is something amiss here. There is something that is strange and happening that we’re not being clued in on from these strange and vague PR releases and the Bubblehead online performance and the absolute absence of a point to this visual takeover. How does Bubblehead have the money to share these advertisements? Even with donors: how? There are so many of them and their purpose is questionable at best. How does Bubblehead have so many Twitter and Facebook followers if both only started posting on December 9 and on December 26 of 2012, respectively? Why are there no mentions of games or helping people in these advertisements like the statements on them say? Are we the only people annoyed by these very 1990, very poorly designed, very “WHY HOW WHY??” advertisements that have been littering the city? They’re making us crazy!
We don’t have any answers to these questions. The only theory that can be made is that the strange SkyTag is using Bubblehead to get annoy us in the same way that the Lady Liberty 1969 got to us. We’re sure there is also a very questionable app starring Bubblehead, too.
If anyone can see a value in this, please let us know. Can the bus advertisements for the flowers return? When are these going away? HELP.