In response to the recent news that SkyMall –the single greatest consolation for flying budget airlines in the United States– may soon be no more, I decided to revisit the premise of a project proposal I wrote a few years ago that never really took off.
The basic idea is that the primary virtue of the SkyMall catalogue is its incredible inflight entertainment value, which is based on the ridiculous capitalist ventures it presents. These so-bad-they’re-goods perfectly illustrate the notion that commercial products don’t have to be necessary or useful in order to succeed; they just have to be profitable. But, despite the dubious nature of products designed to appeal to a captive consumer, who may or may not have medicated themselves with Bloody Marys and sleeping pills prior to cracking open the catalogue, a lot of the products featured in SkyMall are also fantastic examples of the limitless potential of human ingenuity.
So, rather than simply getting rid of SkyMall, I propose that those who oppose the kind of capitalist culture that SkyMall represents should combat the catalogue’s influence by simply shopdropping (reverse shoplifting) their own DIY zines, featuring tutorials for making homemade SkyMall-esque products, into the pages of SkyMall catalogues before placing them back in the airplane seat pockets for the next budget airline patron to stumble upon. This way we can take some of the needless consumerism out of our domestic travel experience, while preserving the much-needed levity provided by this infamous catalogue.
Now I’m finally following through on this idea by creating my own DiyMall zines to shopdrop into inflight magazines in airplane seat pockets the next time that I fly. The first zine I’ve made explains how to make your own DiyMall zine, so in the meantime, if anyone reading this is flying anytime soon, feel free to use my tutorial to make your own zine, or you can even print out a copy to fold and distribute yourself. Let’s keep the the absurdity airborne!