Midweek Media: Rule the Air


The ad shows a gamut of young women, mostly mid to late teens, in various shapes, shades, sizes and settings. They all speak toward the camera, each delivering portions of this message:

“Air has no prejudice. It does not carry the opinions of a man faster than those of a woman. It does not filter out an idea because I’m sixteen and not thirty. Air is unaware if I’m black or white and wouldn’t care if it knew. So it stands to reason my ideas will be powerful if they are wise, infectious, if they are worthy. If my thoughts have flawless delivery I can lead the army that will follow.”

Then we get a voiceover, another female voice, and a screen with a globe with a banner reading “rule the air” and what appears to be a cell tower broadcasting on top of it: Rule the Air. Screen flashes to the Verizon name and check mark logo, with ruletheair.com below it. Voiceover: Verizon.


    • says

      Yeah, out of context, the ad is pretty neat. But this is actually one of the most cynical co-optings of equality activism to serve corporate greed I have seen since… well, ever. And I was around in the 80s, when greed was good and equality kvetching was for losers who didn’t know how to take what they wanted and not worry who they had to step on to do it.

      It’s important to understand a couple of things about net neutrality, which the FTC wants to ensure but Google and Verizon want to block. Net neutrality, which we currently have, means that my site can get served to you as quickly as CNN, if I invest in the same hosting and technology CNN uses to make their site load uber-quickly. Of course I can’t afford that currently, but it’s an option I have if ever the site brings in more money. But the suspicion of many learned webmasters who have poured over the Google/Verizon proposal, is that G&W want to make it tougher for me. They, webmasters suspect, want me to also have to pay THEM to let my site reach their internet users as quickly as possible. If I don’t, then no matter what I do to make my site quick-loading, the end user will have trouble reaching the site – slowly, and sometimes not at all – and give up. Whether this is G&V’s intent is not certain; it certainly could be done under the proposal they’ve written (linked at the article unusualmusic linked to).

      It is also worth noting that Google is not some overseer of the internet. They are actually a competitor site to every website online. Interesting that they would support a proposal that makes it harder for the competition to get its message across.

      So if you buy into this Verizon ad, you’re actually supporting the very opposite of what it suggests: niche sites with niche messages, such as those that matter to young people and PoC and women, will not be able to afford prime access to the internet, which has heretofore been free for all.

      I have never been so pleased that a couple of months ago, I dropped my shitty Samsung and Verizon’s shitty network to get an iPhone. Not that I think highly of AT&T or Apple (all big companies essentially function like psychopaths, they really do), but at least Apple stores hire diversely in terms of color, race and even ability. (Can’t recall ever seeing an employee in a wheelchair in any other retailer.)

      • sbg says

        1) I hate Google. There, I said it.

        2) This commercial smacks of “I’m blowing smoke, but look – aren’t I doing it prettily with fancy rings and such?” to me.

      • Dom Camus says

        In fairness to Google it’s worth pointing out that their proposal might be a very good thing.

        The reason is, it pretty much safeguards net-neutrality in the non-mobile space. Now OK, that’s winning only half the battle, but Google are overwhelming pro net neutrality (whatever conspiracy theorists might say) and if this is their preferred option that might be because they see a very real possibility of losing the battle outright and ending up with net neutrality nowhere.

        Similarly, you’re a bit too kind to the FTC. They ought to be doing what you say, but in reality they’re doing very little. Possibly due to lack of real power or possibly due to lack of will. It’s not clear from the outside.

        As far as the actual ad goes, I think you’re spot on. It’s a perfectly targetted attempt at the soft end of the feminist market. Sort of ironic that feminism’s success has made it a better tool for manipulating people.

        • DSimon says

          The reason is, it pretty much safeguards net-neutrality in the non-mobile space.

          Well, the proposal safeguards the pretty weaksauce status quo of neutral non-mobile space, but also safeguards a bunch of potentially exploitable loopholes, and cuts a lot of the FTC’s potential power to enforce neutrality (which it isn’t using well enough to begin with, but that’s no reason to make things even worse…)

          • Dom Camus says

            No, not because they say so, but because their wordwide staff are overwhelmingly composed of technical people for whom this is a critical issue.

            I don’t know which of the problems with alleged anti-competitiveness you’re referring to, but the numerous cases I’ve seen (literally too many to list) all revolve around alleging that Google has an obligation not to promote itself in its own search results. Even if you agree with that claim, it’s hardly a net neutrality issue.

          • says

            No, nothing to do with Google not promoting itself. You’re only reading the stuff our regulators are actually smart enough to notice, and neglecting the stuff that’s going over their heads for the moment.

            I’m talking about stuff like the paid text link fiasco, which is too complicated to get into here. Briefly, a few years ago, selling text links – a practice which has been around since before Google – became more profitable for many webmasters than AdSense. Google started “penalizing” sites that they believed were selling text links to ensure Adsense’s continued dominance. And they didn’t enforce the penalties regularly – sites like Fark sold completely irrelevant text links, but that was fine. Basically, the company that directed 80% of all internet traffic was telling its own competitors: “If you do business in a way that profits you instead of us, we, uh, might not be able to send you all that lovely traffic anymore. Unless we really like you. Cheers!”

            It was kind of like emotional abuse: hard to see from the outside, but when you’re the one being forced to change your methods or risk penalties from someone who could squash you without noticing, you know.

            The attached link gets into it more than we can really justify in this thread.

          • Dom Camus says

            Fair enough. As you point out I’ve drifted too far off topic! Suffice to say I think that’s a complex issue and am not at all convinced I know what policy would be best.

      • DragonLord says

        This is an article that plays the other side of that discussion

        Personally I’m of the opinion that http(s) traffic should be treated the same regardless of which website it comes from, as should e-mail, ftp, bittorrent. However I don’t necessarily think that they should all be treated the same way (e.g. bittorrent should have a lower packet priority than http(s), VOIP, or online games, but games and VOIP should equally have a lower bandwidth but higher priority than some of the other stuff)

  1. The Other Patrick says

    I didn’t even think about net neutrality here, all I could think of was: “If your ideas are good enough, they will be heard, so don’t complain about unfair treatment – there is none. The reason why women/poc/etc aren’t represented equally is because of the quality of their contributions.”

    Net neutrality is only the cherry on top.

    • Brand Robins says


      I mean, I love something of the commercial. I love the idea of young women using new media to promote new values, new visions, and get their voices heard.

      But I don’t see Verizon actually helping.

      And more importantly, sure… in a perfect world it would be true that the best idea wins. But this isn’t that world. In this world those who scream the loudest, who play the crowd the best, who reinforce the paradigm with the most brutality… they tend to be the ones most heard.

      • says

        And who can scream the loudest? Those who already have power and resources.

        This is why “But we’re just chasing the dollar!” is not a truly neutral, and therefore morally sanctioned, method of business. If we truly had a free market, it *would* be neutral. But the free market is undermined by the connected system of social privilege that keeps certain people more empowered and better insured than others. One can’t seriously contend that the wealth they’re chasing is purely a matter of who earns and who seeks out which goods, as the entertainment industry claims. We’re not in that equal/free a world yet.

  2. Sam L. says

    Some people say not to worry about the air, some people never had experience with



  3. I. Scott says

    In air, higher frequency(pitch) sounds attenuate more quickly with distance than lower frequency sounds…

    A telecom company’s ad ending with ‘rule the air’ strikes me as rather ominous.

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