culture jamming lineup at the cash

Is culture jamming a trademark? A commodity that is more in the domain of an Adbusters and Naomi Klein and Michael Moore and perhaps even Noam Chomsky as popular tastemakers? I doubt Naomi Klein is going to be seen in K-Mart and responding to the P.A. system’s “attention K-Mart shoppers”. Its a question of distinction. of taste. of consumption that reinforces the pyramid. What ultimately is the distinction between an Adbusters ad, Klein books, and say, American Apparel ads?…

We are really talking here about an anti-consumerism industry based on the critique of mass society, the general malaise; but it is all predicated on the existence of consumerism and mass consumption to ensure its existence. In fact, as Thomas Frank has asserted, they do not serve to undermine consumerism in the least, in fact, they reinforce it. Whether this is by design, by conscious marketing strategy, or through a simple absence of intellectual horsepower is not clear.What is, is that new consumer profiles are created based on a certain form of dissent towards mass society but stopping shy of the issues of miltarism, racism and consumption at the heart of a problem contemplated by the Thoreau’s and Whitman’s, and Rousseau’s and even Arthur Miller in Death of a Salesman.

Unlike Adbusters, there are true critiques, such as by Grace Lee Boggs, which actually refrain from actually   designing, making , marketing and hawking a product.  Adbusters is one of many  complex business models that are successful at marketing  trademarked material.Like Rolling Stone, or Vanity Fair they have accomplished this task while marketing “non-marketing” type products through a veneer of critique, but employing the same basis of standardization and differentiation through distinction their critical targets use.

---What can we conclude from all this? For one thing, the market obviously does an extremely good job at responding to consumer demand for anti-consumerist products and literature. But isn’t that a contradiction? Doesn’t it suggest that we are in the grip of some massive, society-wide, bipolar disorder? How can we all denounce consumerism, and yet still find ourselves living in a consumer society? The answer is simple. What we see in films like American Beauty and Fight Club is not actually a critique of consumerism; it’s merely a restatement of the “critique of mass society” that has been around since the 1950s. The two are not the same. In fact, the critique of mass society has been one of the most powerful forces driving consumerism for more than 40 years.--- Read More: image:

Adbusters only miss out on sales revenue one day a year, which is called “Buy Nothing Day.” However, they more than make up for this day of atonement, this down time, through product sales the other 364, 24/7 the same as other well known brands. Its simply a market based on its own form of distinction, an “anti-taste” and a certain snobbism since the marketing is geared for a particular segment which is essentially a white bourgeois youth protest market equally manipulated by others in the culture jamming industry; including the legitimacy and integrity of certain  artists  like a Ron English to piggyback and pretext a whole range of commercial considerations:

Does this type of advertisement register with the viewer primarily as a consumer of the Adbuster good or service. Is the symbolic inclusion of the tagger validate the lifestyle marketing guiding us through a whole range of consumer choices and involking dissent on the back of the same commercial wagon. Like a more left-leaning Rolling Stone?

—This demographic is also profitably mined by such brand as American Spirit Cigarettes, The Daily Show, Tom & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Burning Man, “Organic” of “Green” anything. Prominently among the (not necessarily self defined) “culture-jamming” crowd, we would place Shepard Fairey and our dear friend Ron English in this category. Shepard and Ron richly deserve to make a living off their brilliant work. They are actual artists as opposed to mere marketers like the BLF and Adbusters. They have also paid their “street dues” through numerous arrests and beatings by the cops. We don’t begrudge them their financial success. We applaud it. Adbusters, however, seems intent on completely cornering the market on “Culture Jamming” products and we view their ultimate goals with more than a little suspicion. Sorry to seem so cynical, but after all we’re in advertising!—Read More:

---But one of the largest segments of people who are jumping on board is the radical green wave: actually people who are having some kind of a mental break-down, people who are suddenly stressed out, suddenly going through a crisis of their life. This is a very, very fast growing part of the population. And even really young kids here in North America are suffering from mood-disorder, like about 10% of them are taking Retalin, because they are hyper-active. Now people are making a connection between the polluted mental environment, the commercialized life and an aggressive marketing. 3000 marketing massages coming into your brain every day, 24 hours, non-stop mass media influence. And many of these messages are very aggressive. People are realizing “I feel attacked. And that is part of my mood disorder problem.”---Read More: image:

Walter Benjamin wrote that the reproduction of an image in a new context completely changes the nature of that image and that that copies are qualitatively different from originals.   Andy Warhol found the right formula in a relatively simple tactic of recontextualizing the imagery and language of advertising and consumer culture.Much the same way as Bob Dylan would repackage elements of Americana. Waht we have with Adbusters and Naomi Klein is a flirtation with  the symbology of manufactured desire, using all the inventory of tropes  it relies   upon, re-formulates them with new packaging  when it’s pulled  out of the original context its creators engineered for it; Rousseau, Stuart Mill etc.

Kalle Lasn: We call ourselves cultural creatives and cultural jammers. One of the things we do is that we have created an anti-logo, we call it the blackspot. We have started manufacturing the Blackspot sneakers. The whole marketing philosophy is to steal the momentum of a mega brand, like with the Blackspot shoes, to unswoosh the momentum of the NIKE swoosh. We call this kind of a marketing technique “kick-ass-marketing”. We say “Let’s go there and change the sneaker industry. Let´s expose Nike for the real bad mega-corporation that it really is”. It is a powerful new technique which in the next few years will be used by people to also change the fast food industry. We have created a new kind of business dynamic which is still entrepreneurial. It still believes in market places, it still believes in capitalism. But it is taking market share and energy away from the mega-corporations and creating a more grassroots kind of capitalism. Read More:

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It can be questioned whether Adbusters employs the same kind of terror marketing, or what is termed toxic marketing which the criticize by using negative psychological triggers that catch those with vulnerable identities.ultimately this kind of journal can become quite predictable. image:


What we need to see is that consumption is not about conformity, it’s about distinction. People consume in order to set themselves apart from others. To show that they are cooler (Nike shoes), better connected (the latest nightclub), better informed (single-malt Scotch), morally superior (Guatemalan handcrafts), or just plain richer (bmws)….

---As Pierre Bourdieu reminds us, taste is first and foremost distaste—disgust and “visceral intolerance” of the taste of others. This makes it easy to see how the critique of mass society could help drive consumerism. Take, for example, Volkswagen and Volvo advertising from the early 1960s. Both automakers used the critique of “planned obsolescence” quite prominently in their advertising campaigns. The message was clear: buy from the big Detroit automakers and show everyone that you’re a dupe, a victim of consumerism; buy our car and show people that you’re too smart to be duped by advertising, that you’re wise to the game. This sort of “anti-advertising” was enormously successful in the 1960s, transforming the VW bug from a Nazi car into the symbol of the hippie counterculture and making the Volvo the car of choice for an entire generation of leftist academics. Similar advertising strategies are just as successful today, and are used to sell everything from breakfast cereal to clothing. Thus the kind of ad parodies that we find in Adbusters, far from being subversive, are indistinguishable from many genuine ad campaigns.--- Read More: image:

…The problem is that all of these comparative preferences generate competitive consumption. “Keeping up with the Joneses,” in today’s world, does not always mean buying a tract home in the suburbs. It means buying a loft downtown, eating at the right restaurants, listening to obscure bands, having a pile of Mountain Equipment Co-op gear and vacationing in Thailand. It doesn’t matter how much people spend on these things, what matters is the competitive structure of the consumption. Once too many people get on the bandwagon, it forces the early adopters to get off, in order to preserve their distinction. This is what generates the cycles of obsolescence and waste that we condemn as “consumerism.” Read More:

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