Laser Twitter: Media of the people, for the people, by the people.

6 Feb

Over the weekend of Super Bowl XLIX, amid the blitz of Budweiser banners, screaming fans, superstar bands and cha-ching of cash registers selling only NFL-approved brands and sponsor products, something really cool happened: People — regular Joes and Janes who had not paid millions of dollars to monopolize the atmosphere of Downtown Phoenix — had their anti-corporate and pro-local statements broadcast loud and clear, on a 50-foot banner above the roof of an empty warehouse near the heart of Super Bowl Central. The technology? Simply log on to Twitter and Tweet your message, with the hashtag #LaserTwitter, and it would be broadcast using several RGB lasers on the massive banner, and frequently on the side of the Hotel Palomar building, home of the Bud Light House of Whatever.The reaction? Bud Light reps asked Phoenix PD to make it stop, reportedly upset because they’d asked the hotel if they could project on the building and had been denied.

Laser Twitter Super Bowl ONOMOLY from ONOMOLY on Vimeo.

Budweiser maker Anheuser-Busch paid a lot of money — more than most people make in a decade — for the right to dominate Downtown Phoenix in the days leading up to the Super Bowl, so I suppose (if one cares about how much money it costs to get people to spend more of their money than they can afford) their anger about having their “head space” taken over was understandable. But then there was that horribly insulting Budweiser commercial that run during the Super Bowl broadcast, mocking people who enjoy craft beer (i.e., small-batch beer produced by independent brewers, usually at local facilities with a small, familial crew, and most of which tastes far superior to Budweiser’s mass-produced swill). And for the record, Arizona — especially Metro Phoenix — has an impressive craft beer community which includes Four Peaks Brewing Company, SanTan Brewing Company, Sleepy Dog Brewing, Mudshark Brewery, and Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. (deemed “The World’s Best New Brewery” by Esquire magazine last year). For more on Arizona craft beer, check out this feature in the June 2014 issue of PHOENIX magazine. Bottom line: Out-of-town visitors were done a severe disservice by having to drink Bud when some of the best craft beer in the country was on tap a just few blocks away at Angels Trumpet Ale House. I’ll fully disclose that 1) I’m a prominent member of Phoenix media who sees firsthand how branding and being beholden to access affects coverage (NO major media outlets in this market covered Laser Twitter), and 2) I love Arizona craft beer and think Budweiser tastes so inferior that I won’t even drink it for free, and 3) I participated in Laser Twitter (I had to see if it worked; you may have noticed my LaserTweet — “Stop consuming, start caring” — in the video above), and 4) I think Laser Twitter is very important in giving the people a voice and I hope they continue to find ways to give grassroots as big a platform as the Super Bowl (hey, this is my blog, so this is my opinion).

Super Bowl XLIX may be over, but I have a feeling Laser Twitter (and the entity that created it, ONOMOLY) isn’t. At least I hope not. As a woman in her late 30s, I remember the pre-Digital era, when subversive, self-published “zines” would make their rounds across the country via snail mail, when people would exchange handwritten letters and homemade mix tapes without fear of prosecution for piracy, when “independent” news had to be verified through multiple primary sources before being dispersed around the globe in the blink of an eye (how many times has that Kanye West dude died in the past five years?), when a person had to pick up a phone and actually call another person for the fastest and most efficient form of communication. Now we’re a world of soundbites and short-sales, of wannabe one-percenters and unconscious consumers, of texts in 140 characters or less.

In this Digital Age, who are we, as “a people,” really? And what do we really want? Do we even know? Hell, I don’t know what I want some days from hour to hour. But I can tell you what I do know: Smart people don’t want to be force-fed corporate crap, and the technological and digital landscape does not belong wholly to corporations. Not yet. As long as subversives like Laser Twitter continue to agitate the establishment by giving free reign to freedom of speech, there’s still hope for humanity — or at least for the notion that our minds are not for sale to the highest-paying brander.

Related stories:

“Top 12 Tweets #LaserTwitter Imposed on Brandville During Super Bowl Week”

“My city hosts Super Bowl XLIX today. From star-studded private parties to the social media protests of #LaserTwitter, here’s what it feels like from the inside-out.”

One Response to “Laser Twitter: Media of the people, for the people, by the people.”


  1. ONOMOLY shines a light on the NFL and mocks Bud Light with Laser Twitter » Laser Twitter - Interactive Laser Billboard - February 8, 2015

    […] The Phoenix EDGE: Laser Twitter: Media of the people, for the people, by the people. […]

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