A Mutual deceit being played out to the hilt? Are they all just business models? The Culture Jamming trademark has clearly been established in the realm of Adbusters. The necessity of a young, white, demographic to be part of a movement. It’s a movement that is ostensibly anti-capitalist but yet markets, designs and sells product to their customer base. A complex business model that is quite adept at marketing trademarked goods and services to the protest and dissent industry, playing to the anti-redeeming values that the modern world is striving to recover. They are achieving this not insignificant task while hawking anti-marketing or non-marketing products.
And Jay-Z? Basically plying identical waters to his customer base. He is the king of trademarked Outlaw Culture to borrow the phrase from Bell Hooks. Rap here allowing white middle class to tease into the black erzatz culture while working through their own identity issues. Jay-Z as a revamped Bill Cosby or the old colonial African king. In any scenario he serves to reinforce the stereotype and reflect the values of male patriarchy, misogyny and sexism that serves white America so conveniently. And he makes a pile of cash doing it.
Andrew Potter: What do Jay-Z and Adbusters magazine have in common? On the face of it, not much. Adbusters is a small magazine published out of Vancouver, while Jay-Z is one of the most successful media moguls in the world. Yet both Adbusters and Jay-Z have seized upon the economic and psychic dislocation caused by the grinding global recession as a means of extending their brands and product lines, with wildly different results.Adbusters is credited with having conceived of the Occupy Wall Street protest that began in New York in mid-September. The protest against unemployment, inequality and the power of the financial elites was nicely captured by the slogan “We are the 99%” and was a natural extension of the magazine’s main product line — strident screeds against branding, marketing, and the symbolic flotsam of global capitalism….
The Occupy meme proved highly viable, and it quickly spread to other cities in North America and Europe. But anticipating that anything this popular must have commercial value, some members of the protest in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park quickly applied for a trademark on the phrase “Occupy Wall Street,” to prevent it from being co-opted….
Adbusters, for all their huffing and chest beating, only misses out on sales one day a year, a kind of day of atonement, the so-names buy nothing day. However, they make up for this shortfall the rest of the calendar year 7/24 the same as say Coca Cola or Budweiser. Its an artifice, Potter and Heath’s “Rebel Sell” style marketing maneuver that zeroes in on a fairly affluent protest market, one which has been also exploited by what is the culture jamming industry such as Jon Stewart, Burning Man Festival, Greenpeace, Naomi Klein Inc., Michael Moore, as well as some with a more savory level of integrity like Shepard Fairey.But Adbusters, is the most blatantly obvious in desiring to corner the market on Culture Jamming goods and is worthy of the most cynicism and suspicion.
…But if the decision to trademark “Occupy” led to a moment of soul-searching among the participants, Jay-Z’s attempt at getting a piece of the action snapped participants out of their existential gazings. In mid-November, he was photographed backstage at a concert wearing a shirt that read “Occupy All Streets,” and announced plans to make the shirts available through his clothing label, Rocawear. But while the company said that the point of the shirts was to remind people that “there is change to be made everywhere, not just on Wall Street,” it said it had no intention of sharing the proceeds of any sales with the Occupy movement itself….
Still, there is something slightly minstrel about his parading around the media championing his past as a drug dealer. He still wears the crack dealer badge with honour, despite stating the contrary. Perhaps no one or nothing else in pop culture, save for the movie Scarface, has effectively mythologized drug dealing better than he has….
…One of the biggest songs of the past year, his “Empire State of Mind”, contains stylized references to cooking and selling crack cocaine
�catch me in the kitchen like a Simmons whippin’ pastry”). So do virtually all of his songs and catch phrases unbeknownst to most listeners.Decoded is an insightful look into the stories and characters that inspired his lyrics – part analysis, part memoir. It’s an intriguing work that serves to illustrate his personal past and the ’70s/’80s socio-economic conditions that birthed hip-hop culture.
However, he and the genre’s biggest stars continue to deny responsibility for its rampant misogyny, sexism and violence. While it’s warranted that hip-hop is informed by larger American culture and institutional racism, at some point the culture has to accept at least a fraction of responsibility for its negativity. With Decoded, Jay-Z comes very close but still fails to do that.Read More:http://swaymag.ca/2010/11/speak-on-it-jay-z-still-a-hustler/
The backlash against Jay-Z was so fast, and so vicious, that Rocawear quickly pulled the T-shirts from its website, only to quietly re-introduce them a few days later, with still no commitment to supporting the Occupy movement. For his efforts, Jay-Z has been immortalized in bronze by the artist Daniel Edwards, whose sculpture Mogul (Jay-Z Occupies Occupy Wall Street) depicts the blinged-out rapper at the base of a totem pole, with busts of cartoon plutocrats Richie Rich, Scrooge McDuck and Monty Burns balanced on his head….
… The Adbuster’s advertising and imagery reaches us as a consumer of their product, even if the jabs at corporatism are ironic and clever- in a Dada way- they are effectively promoting themselves as the rebel brand of hip consumption. They use stylistic cliches of the genre which we tend to relate to lifestyle and products that help us construct our identity…
Potter: It is hard to see, though, just what Jay-Z has done wrong. After all, in looking to profit off anti-capitalist sentiment and popular discontent with consumer culture, he is merely aping a marketing strategy that Adbusters did not invent, but has long since perfected. What is Adbusters selling? Most obviously, it is selling a bimonthly magazine that retails for $8.95. But the magazine is itself little more than one long advertisement for the organization’s true product, which is the idea of rebellion.
Founded in 1989, Adbusters is the flagship publication of the culture-jamming movement. In their view, society has become utterly permeated with capitalist propaganda, to the extent that the culture as a whole is designed to reproduce faith in the system. The goal of culture jamming is to monkeywrench the system by subverting the messages used to reproduce this faith, by blocking the channels — advertising and the mass media — through which it is propagated.
Culture jamming takes various forms, most often various forms of graffiti or defaced advertisements. But Adbusters’ most successful innovation is “Buy Nothing Day,” which falls on the Friday after the American Thanksgiving holiday, and which is reputedly the busiest shopping of the year. Buy Nothing Day is pretty much as billed — it is a day when citizens are invited to spend no money at all, as a way of jamming what would otherwise be a large-scale orgy of consumerism. Adbusters has since expanded its anti-capitalist rhetoric into other areas, most notably the Occupy movement. But in an inspired bit of brand extension, the magazine has just launched its “OccupyX-mas” campaign. Through various pranks that will include mall sit-ins, flash mobs, credit card cut-ups and poster campaigns, it aims to “unseat the corporate kings on the holiday throne.”
So what does any of this have to do with Jay-Z’s crass attempt at profiting off of the Occupy movement?
Only this: Since 2003, the Adbusters website has been happily accepting orders for the Black Spot Sneaker, its own signature brand of “subversive” running shoes. When the shoe launched, Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn described the sneaker project “a groundbreaking marketing scheme” that would “revolutionize capitalism.” There are now three Blackspot shoes, retailing for between $75 and $99, and Adbusters has made Blackspot into an “open-source brand” that can be used by anyone, to sell any product whatsoever.
But when it comes to profiting off anti-capitalist sentiment, it is hard to see what distinguishes the Blackspot sneaker from Jay-Z’s “Occupy All Streets” T-shirt. For that matter, it is hard to see what distinguishes either of these from other successful businesses that arose out of a desire to “do capitalism differently,” from The Gap and Starbucks to the Body Shop and Whole Foods.
Perhaps, then, the difference is simply this: More than almost any other mogul alive, Jay-Z has always known that his success rests on maintaining a careful balance between his street cred and his marketability, and with his “Occupy All Streets” shirt, the self-styled “black Warren Buffett” has for once misjudged his audience.
It would seem that when it comes to selling rebellion, even Jay-Z has nothing on the Warren Buffett of counterculture, Kalle Lasn. Read More:http://www.ottawacitizen.com/story_print.html?id=5756277&sponsor=
One critic, in fact, contendsAdbusters is a self-appointed position as cultural arbiters; which is a similar play to the Franz Kafka idea in The Castle. Here, K had no legitimate right to have his position, to be entitled to it, since he was never appointed to it. But, by ruse he was determined to get it. Hence, what K was claiming was really part of a fraud, a scheming deception; a perpetrated ploy. Kafka the rebel. Like Thomas Frank’s Conquest of Cool. K’s two His two assistants, Arthur and Jeremiah, that K meets in the village and whom he refers to as snakes, assigned to him by the Castle, are not his old helpers, but appear to be part of the sneaky underhandedness that K has devised in his efforts to become heir to the post he covets in the Castle. Jay-Z as K?
Kafka’s narrative of the victory of fiction over reality is a central element in the story’s plot. Basically, K. is a stranger, an outsider with a murky past, maybe criminal who suddenly appears on the scene. K’s motives are unclear, probably illegitimate and definitely obscure.
One has to be suspicious, since the original order is baseless, a ruse, and any shred of evidence regarding his appointment does not exist. …
But Adbusters knows that its market won’t respond to regular brand advertising. You are not buying a foreign-labour-made knock-off shoe, you are buying a share of an ‘anti-corporation.’ You see, each shoe gives you a half-share in the Black Spot Shoe anti-corporation. What is the difference between a corporation and an anti-corporation? In a corporation, as a shareholder you are entitled to vote for the board of directors, voice your opinion at annual general meetings, receive accurate and audited quarterly financial reports and can pool your shares with other like-minded people to transform corporate policies. In an anti-corporation, you get to take part in a web forum while CEO and Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn does whatever he pleases.
The Black Spot Shoe Company is merely a division of the non-profit Adbusters media foundation, Kalle Lasn, prop. (Assisting Mr. Lasn on Adbuster’s three-member board is his photographer pal and his lawyer.) It is answerable to no one and, as a non-profit, has no requirement to pay income tax like, say, a foreign shoe company.
‘Imagine a chain of restaurants serving only locally-sourced food. Or an artist-controlled radio network. Or a consumer co-op for organic clothing.’—from the same Adbusters ad.
Adbusters doesn’t want to inspire business owners to create locally owned, locally controlled companies. It wants to replace well-established brand chains with their hipper brand chain. If you think it’s a joke, go back to the third paragraph. I’s not a joke.
Nobody is saying that the employees of Adbusters can’t make a living. If Kalle wanted to say, ‘I want to start a company that uses my ideals of Adbusters and demonstrates how it works in the real world,’ well, Godspeed. Instead, he is using thousands of his cultural jamming automatons as an ATM. Black Spot is creepy. Buy the shoe and sell your soul. Read More:http://onlymagazine.ca/Last-Stand/56/black-spot-crap