Friday, June 13, 2008

What do you think of radiohead?

And also, what do you think of the culture jam movement?

Radiohead is the jam, by the way. I think. *snark muffled by sincere respect for radiohead. . .*

I've some pretty mixed feelings about adbusters, the organization who's page hosts this. Here's a documentary about them, if you're interested. . . I find it's a pretty good concise exposition, at about 40 minutes.

So here's my gripe about culture jam. Is it enough? Is it everything someone can do? Is it effective? At all?

And I confess, the cheerful font of the sticker that said "enjoy debt" on the ATM was pretty striking. But most of the work they do? Not so much. I don't think soundbites will ever be enough to convert someone away from capitalism. Without development of the ideas behind it--without an understanding of the reasons one would wish to deface ads, and background for the alternative message presented--it doesn't come to much.

Perhaps some of my resistance comes from the book culture jam, which is simply not well written, and the official adbusters website, a recently de-slickified construct full of what look exactly like ads and--paradoxically--selling their own brand ("black spot") of products. I believe them when they say they aren't in it for the money, but it feels very odd to support someone who uses the Exact methodology they're dedicated to fighting.

It's not that I don't appreciate what they're trying to do, but it's a superficial makeover. Alone, it's no more than a pitiful attempt to turn vast impressionist sweeps of advertiser's image building into a dialogue. .. but a dialogue where no one ever says anything that takes longer than those two seconds it takes you to look at an ad.

It doesn't work.

Is deconstructing and elaborately mocking adds the best way for a cultural revolutionary to spend their time?

And then comes another question: exactly what are they proposing instead? Economic suicide isn't useful for much, and to support only ethical companies, at this point, is still economic suicide for most of us. The votes of dollars will never be enough until supported by a real public discourse, and meanwhile the majority of our time and our dollars go to the enrichment of those same people we "jam." In perspective, it's like leaving informative little notes in bigoted history texts as a protest against their use in public education. . . except, following that metaphor, all the textbooks would have to be bigoted, and they would have to be most of what was available. Hmn.

I can see it as a useful tool, but only when used more substantiatively. . . in conjunction with a more substantiative discourse, and a more substantiative plan for action.

P.S. Also, everybody shout out a big happy birthday for my sisters number three and four, for birthdays yesterday and today, respectively. They rock, each in their own awesome way. :D

Sunday, June 08, 2008