David Foster Wallace was right, meta-television is the future, but a new meta-corporate advertisement by Quiznos may be one of the best examples of how corporations will serve up anti-corporate humor for the masses in an attempt to advance their own toasty agenda.
With high production values and the allure of a dystopian sci-fi flick, the faux film trailer shows characters from The Maze Runner movie franchise walking into this cinematic Burning Man and realizing:
They lied to us … [they] said it was anti-establishment society based on radical self-expression. It’s become a place for rich people to check off their bucket list.
The ad is so self-aware you can’t help but laugh at its mocking tone and its seductive artifice. Meta-advertising like this appears to be informed by what the Situationists called détournement, or the recycling and inversion of products in capitalist society in a subversive way, and their placement into new settings to create new meanings. No longer avant-garde, if it ever truly was, this type of détournement is both a social critique and a ridiculous celebration of 21st-century pop culture. The placement of Quiznos sandwiches is prominent enough throughout the advertisement to make them memorable, but not enough to make viewers not want to share the viral video.
But Burning Man is not meta-amused, and according to the Reno Gazette-Journal the desert meet-up’s organizers are considering suing for “theft of the event’s intellectual property.”
How do you prove you’re anti-capitalist nowadays? By suing someone or something, of course!