“Tokyo without the Ginza”

The New York Times: Streets Are Paved With Neon’s Glare, and City Calls a Halt (By Larry Rohter – Published: December 12, 2006)
SAO PAULO, Brazil – Imagine a modern metropolis with no outdoor advertising: no billboards, no flashing neon signs, no electronic panels with messages crawling along the bottom. Come the new year, this city of 11 million, overwhelmed by what the authorities call visual pollution, plans to press the “delete all” button and offer its residents an unimpeded view of their surroundings.

Of course, detractors came up with all the most alarming forecasts they could think of:
Advertising and business groups, though, regard the legislation as injurious to society and an affront to their professions.
They say that free expression will be inhibited, jobs lost and consumers less informed in their purchasing decisions, and even that streets will be less safe at night with the loss of illumination from signs.
This is a radical law that damages the rules of a market economy and respect for the rule of law
We live in a consumer society, and the essence of capitalism is the availability of information about products.
the result will inevitably be a diminishing of urban life – “like New York without Times Square or Tokyo without the Ginza”
“I think this city is going to become a sadder, duller place”
“Advertising is both an art form and, when you’re in your car or alone on foot, a form of entertainment that helps relieve solitude and boredom.”
“It’s easier to attack McDonald’s and Coca-Cola and the banks, because that doesn’t offend anybody.”

hmmm… I am personally incredibly excited at what new forms of expression people will come up with to circumvent this new law.
I am also convinced that all those ads we get bombarded with everywhere we walk or stand are inhibiting our creative sense and happiness, not enhancing it.
Lastly, a Tokyo without the neons in Ginza would not make me flee the country, screaming, on the contrary. I hope 10 times more tourists flock to Sao-Paulo next year.
I dare you Ishihara-san…

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  • Aka.me

    Based in Paris & Tokyo, Paul Baron is a senior product manager for hire. Ex-@AQworks. Co-founder of cultural platform Tokyo Art Beat.
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    Posts a few times a decade since 2003.

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