I think it was plain stupid, frankly. The guys deserve to be arrested and fined just as surely as if they'd put a live bear in the middle of Storrow Drive.
I'm sorry, I just can't back you up on this, ibis.
The difference between this and releasing a live bear is that only an idiot would release a live bear thinking that it wouldn't disrupt people's lives, but you'd have to assume that everyone else in the entire city of Boston was a complete idiot for it to occur to you that someone might consider a Lite Brite to be a terrorist threat.
Neither the two guys in question, nor the marketing firm, nor Turner Broadcasting, are responsible for the hysterical overreaction of the men and women of Boston law enforcement, nor could they reasonably have been expected to see said reaction coming.
I mean, none of the other cities freaked out or thought it was a terrorist attack, and since the signs have been up for three weeks in all the locations you'd think they'd all have had plenty of time to notice them.
The one dude was from Arlington, for crying out loud... he should have known better than to SHUT DOWN 93.
He didn't shut down 93. The cops shut down 93. You're diverting responsibility away from where it belongs.
I also find it a little... interesting... how people are rallying behind these guys as though this was some sort of great culture jamming experiment. But it was just commercial advertising for a Ted Turner cable network, not the most counterculture thing I can think of really.
No, the advertising itself was not terribly counterculture. You could even argue that it's basically a commericialized derivative of the work of Invader, which segues into discussion about Invader's work reclaiming public space being repurposed by the Spectacle blah blah blah, etc.
However, the degree to which it inadvertently exposed the Powers That Be as a bunch of Keystone Kops is probably a better result than you could have gotten if it had been an intentional act of culture jamming, and, as grant points out, the press conference today was a brilliant bit of political theater. Mockery is so much more effective than outrage in the way it strips the dignity from the subject, and if there's any halo that needs popping in the US right now it's the aura of sanctity that's conferred upon paranoia.
This is one of those situations where no one comes out looking good - it was a stupid marketing idea, and a stupid overreaction to it.
I really don't see what was so stupid about it, and it kind of bothers me that even the people criticizing the response seem to feel it necessary to throw in those sorts of comments. "Well, obviously, they were stupid to do it..." No, they were not obviously stupid to do this, it wasn't an especially bad marketing gimmick, they weren't in any way out of line, and I think any concessions on that front set a very dangerous precedent. The government was 100% in the wrong, bears total responsibility for the clusterfuck that happened, they owe the artists and the city of Boston a serious apology, full stop.
I think they're gonna have a hard time trying to convince a judge or jury that the little Lite Brite things were deliberately meant to look like bombs, particularly when no one in any of the other cities paid them any notice.
The judge seemed skeptical at the hearing today. I think the prosecution is in for an uphill battle, and I can't say I'm unhappy about that.