Artist pranks LA Best Buy stores with 'useless' gadget

Five Best Buy stores unknowingly played host to a thought-provoking art exhibit that questions our obsession with gadgets.

Christopher MacManus
Crave contributor Christopher MacManus regularly spends his time exploring the latest in science, gaming, and geek culture -- aiming to provide a fun and informative look at some of the most marvelous subjects from around the world.
Christopher MacManus
3 min read
How many useless plastic boxes do you own? Plastic Jesus

Consumers visiting five select Los Angeles-area Best Buy stores last Friday encountered a "useless" gadget unlike any other.

Intending to inspire people to think twice about having the latest and greatest piece of tech, street artist Plastic Jesus secretly placed empty black plastic boxes, complete with realistic Best Buy info sheets, near items such as GPS units and tablets at the various stores.

The faux device, labeled as a $99.99 "Useless Plasticbox 1.2," likely fooled people who didn't give the item a second glance. It appeared similar to many streaming devices and other tech items with forgettable aesthetics. Of course, if anyone read the amusing description near the product, they would likely have realized it was a total fake.

"Another gadget you don't really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of use," said the sheet. Nearby, a warranty notice delivered another punch to consumers: "There is no warranty with this piece of crap. If you are dumb enough to buy it you deserve all you get." Certainly not the most charming text, but it does remind me of a few tech products I've purchased in the past.

In a conversation with CNET, Plastic Jesus spoke about his motivations for carrying out this unique example of "product bombing."

"Like many people out there I have bought every new gadget available, and each one is always heralded as the gadget that will transform our life. The hype for the newest piece of kit often starts weeks before with a build up similar to a Hollywood blockbuster," said the artist. "However, once we spend, often hundreds or thousands of dollars on the item we find that it is not as we were sold, either there are functionality issues, compatibility problems, and in-fact the frustration the item brings us far out weighs any benefit it will bring to our life."

An example of what some consumers saw last week at several Best Buy stores in Los Angeles. Plastic Jesus

Plastic Jesus also described how gadgets can cause more frustration than joy, especially if you need to call customer support to fix any problems.

"This is backed up by the fact that often only days after launch the manufacturer will issue a firmware update to rectify problems. The buying public seem to be the testers for many gadgets," Plastic Jesus said. "The Best Buy 'product bombing' was a very visible way of making a statement. I'm sure If I called Sony, Apple, Samsung or who-ever and complained that their product was a piece of crap they wouldn't listen to me. And try calling an overseas 'Help center' to get help!"

A Best Buy representative confirmed to CNET that a few Best Buy stores were affected by the prank and said the chain was "flattered that Best Buy is so top of mind for Mr. Plastic Jesus."

Said the artist: "I'm blown away with the support my action has received -- I've even had some messages of support from Best Buy staff." Check out more amusing photos of the prank in action at the official Plastic Jesus blog.

(Via Yahoo News)