(via Graffiti Reclaims Egypt’s Revolution From Marketers : NPR)
For many young Egyptians who took great risks in Tahrir Square to help bring down a dictator, the commodification of the revolution is offensive and stupid, according to Youssef.
Egyptians aren’t dumb, Youssef said, and the ad writer has come up with his own unofficial slogan in response:
“The revolution is not a cow; let’s not milk it.”
To Youssef, the marketing also marks a heavy-handed attempt by companies to try re-write history. Some of the telecommunications companies now trying to associate themselves with the uprising are the same ones who quickly gave in to the Mubarak regime’s request to help shut down service on January 28th, just a few days into the uprising.
“Everyone sold us down the river. So all these people coming now and claiming that their phones, their kitchen appliances, their whatever, has helped the revolution — nothing has helped the revolution but the people that did the revolution,” Youssef said.
For years, Egypt’s media were reigned in and censored by government and military minders. That practice of intimidation has continued somewhat under the transitional military council now ruling the country. Egyptian journalists have been hauled before military interrogators for merely reporting on critical comments made about the army’s ruling council.
“The government has a lot of experience in propaganda and media manipulation, and advertising has been hand in hand with them in that. They’re playing the same game all over again. It just goes to show you that not a lot has changed,” said Adham Bakry, a freelance graphic artist who camped out protesting in Tahrir Square during the uprising.
‘Graffiti Is A Way To Reclaim The Streets’
Bakry is now fighting back with his street art. After the revolution he started stenciling on walls around the city the faces of two discredited leaders of the former ruling party, the NDP, holding on to prison bars. Not long after, the two politicians were arrested on corruption charges.
Bakry sees the rise of Cairo’s street art and graffiti scene as kind of politicized push back against those using the uprising as a marketing tool.
“They just want to overwhelm people with this notion that ‘this is the new Egypt’ … and keep using the same slogans … and it bothers me,” Bakry said.