the “be stupid” ad campaign by diesel

Okay, so my research has, for a long time, focused on issues of intellectualism and anti-intellectualism in American culture.  And yes, that has resulted in a quick eye for all things anti-intellectual in my surroundings.  Still, I can’t be the only one stunned (and frustrated) by the new Diesel ad campaign: “Be Stupid.”  I noticed it first a few weeks back when getting off the D train at West 4th Street in Manhattan.  The long tunnel I had to walk through to surface just a few blocks from the campus of NYU was lined with Diesel’s new “Be Stupid” ads.  Here’s a taste of what I encountered…

Um, moving past the blatant anti-intellectual message that to be cool we should “be stupid,” there’s a whole lot here that’s problematic.   Women as sex objects perhaps?  The preference for balls over brains?  The image of “stupid” (i.e. cool) as a white middle-class youth we may presume has had the privilege of a good education?  Oh, and I just love that these ads (though I’m sure they appear elsewhere) line the subway tunnel right by NYU–one of the most prestigious universities in the country.

Call me “smart,” but I don’ think this ad campaign is as “stupid” (i.e. cool) as it thinks itself to be.

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3 thoughts on “the “be stupid” ad campaign by diesel

  1. I think you’re reading into these ads way too intensely. There is actually a lot of truth in most of these ads. People have long been ridiculed for their “stupid” thoughts. For example, Christopher Columbus, Charles Darwin, and the Wright brothers were all initially ridiculed for their “stupid” ideas or theories. What this ad is trying to say is be true to yourself, have fun, and don’t be afraid to pursue or believe something in fear of being ridiculed by society. They are also just really interesting images and provoke the viewer to evaluate the norms of social interaction. I know as a design student some of my best projects have derived from a “stupid” thought. Maybe you should take some advice from this campaign and loosen up, “be stupid.” “Smart Critiques, Stupid Creates.”

  2. I absolutely agree with you about this ad!
    I don’t think enough can be said about the way we are led into believing that “stupid” is an emblem of counter-culture. The opposite is true! Those who have made history are smart, aware, and willing to stand up for what they believe in. Can you call taking risks or standing up to oppression stupid? If you can’t understand, then how can you act?
    It was, and is, the culture of stagnation and stupidity that abounds in societies like ours that represses great thinkers like Darwin, the Wright Brothers, and the like…. but their intelligence is underplayed for their “guts.”
    A Diesel Ad exploiting a false sense of rebelliousness to sell jeans… to me this is obviously not a consciously sinister ad, but it IS an expression of the greater problems we face as an under-educated and consumption-obsessed nation.

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