Advertisements pervade the world around us. Some people complain, some people consume, all people see. The general public has little say over the images and messages that fill our day, and companies pay for the right to that presence.
Graffiti proliferates in urban areas, and wherever else vandals find themselves. People (those in power/with money) complain about graffiti, and other people (who rely on the former people to earn their livings and promotions and generate business) are concerned enough about it to spend money to have it cleaned up, painted over, covered, and post police officers, motion sensors, and video cameras in strategic locations to prevent it.
Graffiti is the poor man's advertising. It is his control over the aesthetic of his environment. He is not selling a product, but is rather exerting his very presence through paint. Handstyles, throwies, and stencils say my name is ***** (never a legal name,) and I am here. And here. And up here, too. His message is not complicated or offensive (usually,) but it is generally objectionable because he has no right to touch things that aren't his. Producers are not happy about having to acknowledge that their systematic right to resources can be subverted.
As subcultures catch on and mainstream youth are influenced by counterculture, graffiti is appropriated for marketability. Glyph fonts sell 3 ring binders to middle schoolers. Graffiti is commodified. ***** is commodified. If ***** were a product we could purchase, would his self-advertisement suddenly become less of an eye-sore? If ***** saw his branding as a reductive attempt at exerting his self-identity, would he question his actions?
By copyrighting the local graf tagger's mark, I call the attention of people who constantly unsee things they do not understand. By interacting with someone else's work, I engage them either in what they may perceive to be collaboration or competition. The street art world (which typically designates arranged collaboration as "So-and-So vs Otherguyoner") has rules, and I may be breaking them. By choosing wheatpaste posters, I show solidarity with their craft. I am not defacing their work and covering it up. I am joining them in their irreverence for that wall and the concept behind the fact that some unknown body owns it. Nobody is going to tear my work down without going through as much effort as it would take to erase that *****. Maybe, though, ***** will sense the threat of his mark being coopted, or worse, unrecognized and glossed over. Maybe he will think bigger.