Times Square is one of the most iconic locations in New York. I was there recently, standing amongst crowds so thick that police officers needed to be present at all traffic lights to ensure that the people didn’t mob the intersections and block all the cars.
The vibe was electric: noise; colour; excitement; thousands flocking to see this image of iconic America. As I stood there, I was struck by a sense of comic irony, which soon turned in to a kind of grave wariness. Times Square is more representative of America and the west than I had realized, and in a rather sinister way.
It stands, gloating, in one of the greatest cities in the world, as a shrine to capitalism and consumerism. As I gazed up at the bright lights, I asked myself suddenly, ‘What am I here to see?’
Thousands flock daily to Times Square to look at advertisements.
That’s all it is. Dozens of luminous billboards, sky high, telling us what we need and who we should be. And it’s a tourist magnet.
I think lots of us like to believe that we’re somehow above and immune to the advertising machine, but Times Square, to me, proves that we’re not. And the scariest thing? We waltz on in, take our selfie, and walk out… claiming all the time that we are not a pawn in the very hand that just moved us.