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Old 01-27-2008, 09:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Culture-jamming

Letís discuss culture-jamming Ė the practice of using mass media as a tool against itself. It is a form of activism which most consider to be the antithesis of commercialism.

The Whoís The Who Sell Out is considered an early venture in culture-jamming. Other bands like Negativland, and the Gorillaz are some of the more recent music groups to engage in culture-jamming.

In print, publications like Ad-busters Ė a magazine which publishes without advertising but prints altered print ads, and Naomi Kleinís book No Logo bring the message of culture jamming to light.

Some have even argued that Borat is/was an exercise in culture-jamming.

Personally, I enjoy it. I like the idea of ordinary people going up against large conglomerates by defacing their advertising and altering their messages. Iíve never engaged in it myself, but I could imagine that if the opportunity presented itself, I probably would.

Have you ever engaged in culture-jamming? If you did, what did you do? If you havenít, would you?
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Old 01-27-2008, 01:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Excellent topic. I, too, love culture-jamming. It's radicalism against what some consider oppressive institutions, such as corporations and so forth.

I'm a Human Rights/Civil Rights activist myself, and am completely turned-off by the disgusting notion of "pop. culture" which is directed by commercialism, political agenda, and so forth.

Culture-jamming, I do it in my own way, part of my cynical aspect of my sense of humor. Using religious dogma in my everyday sarcasm, and using corporate mottos for profanity lol.

"'I had my break today' and gained like 5lbs" to "Did you Just Do It and break your leg? Maybe you should have Just Thought About It first"

lol. Ironically, I'm a business major with a concentration in Marketing Management. Marketers and advertisers, ourselves, have actually caught on to culture-jamming after the success of groups like the Gorillaz, Rage Aginst the Machine, Truth, Negativland, and so forth.

We call it "Anti-Marketing" or "Ugly Marketing". Marketing that isn't the gimic-y and expensive pretty designs that older people are impressed. Instead, using the cynicism, radicalism, choatic and "un-pretty" styles that modern teens and young adults are attracted to, for our advertising and Brand management designs.

MySpace.com, is mentionably something we consider anti-marketing. Allowing our young users to do whatever the Hell they want to do to their pages to keep them active and interested on MySpace.com, while marketers and programmers collect information on them and their computers to use to generate advertising, sales leads, and strong market research for corporations.

Which is the ironic twist. I have a saying, "beware the investor, because you have no idea how he invests, and what he invests in...could be the very ass you sit on."

Myspace.com is the corporate adaptation of culture-jamming for profit. There are still Big Brother groups that do get on the nerves of the institutions they are after by using culture-jamming. Truth.com is a popular example.
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Old 01-27-2008, 02:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I've read and enjoyed Kalle Lasn's "Culture Jam", I own a stack of Adbusters magazines and various other publications under the Adbusters banner. I even took part in Buy Nothing Day for a few years.

But I no longer subscribe to their publications nor to their ways of thinking.

The ideas of fighting against corporate ownership of everything, public access to television/radio networks, protecting our minds from 24/7 advert brainwashing...all of these are important topics but there really is but so much that you can say about these issues without acquiring a sort of Us Vs. Them attitude.

My breaking point came shortly after Adbusters released an issue of their magazine that was comprised solely of first person accounts of daily life after the the collapse of the stock market. Every character romanticized the death of money, tedious jobs, drug laws, worldwide communication...

It's one thing to fight for change and another entirely to alienate everyone you'd hope to convert by getting so caught up in your ideas that your message comes across as nothing but a convoluted and pompous mess.

Quote:
Personally, I enjoy it. I like the idea of ordinary people going up against large conglomerates by defacing their advertising and altering their messages. Iíve never engaged in it myself, but I could imagine that if the opportunity presented itself, I probably would.
I defaced trains, buses and MTA adverts for years and eventually I came to the conclusion that while I liked the idea of reclaiming public spaces back from major corporations - there are much better ways to go about it. And you aren't exactly raging against the machine by defacing adverts with paint that was manufactured by another major corporation.
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Old 01-27-2008, 02:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Like this?


I comprehend the words, but I'm not sure I quite grasp the concept. Is it the selling out that you're speaking of, or when the media becomes the news? Or am I lost in space?
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Old 01-27-2008, 05:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I wonder if this is anything like what the lower ranks of the military do by integrating pop culture and policy together into goofy, bitter sarcasm?

Biggest and most popular example.

Other examples are "Army of nOne" and the "Kilroy was here!" thing from WW2.
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Old 01-27-2008, 06:15 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jewels443
I comprehend the words, but I'm not sure I quite grasp the concept. Is it the selling out that you're speaking of, or when the media becomes the news? Or am I lost in space?
I'm with you. I'm not sure what culture jamming is exactly.
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Old 01-27-2008, 06:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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This is a good example of culture jamming:

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Old 01-27-2008, 07:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Turns out the intarblog is chock full of nutty Photoshopped "culture jamming" examples.
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Old 01-27-2008, 07:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Ah, but crompsin, photoshopping is not culture-jamming. Someone needs to tell those poor, suburban, pasty-skinned, misguided misanthropes to get out there with a can of spray paint and actually do it.
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Old 01-27-2008, 07:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Oh, but going to jail for vandalism because you were "fighting the man" is a bad idea.

I know what you mean by Photoshopping not counting. I'm search-lazy tonight.
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Old 01-27-2008, 07:09 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I've never culture-jammed overtly, but I do it in my head all fucking day long.

Anybody know how I can get it to stop?
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Old 01-27-2008, 07:09 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JumpinJesus
Ah, but crompsin, photoshopping is not culture-jamming. Someone needs to tell those poor, suburban, pasty-skinned, misguided misanthropes to get out there with a can of spray paint and actually do it.


Fighting the good fight against gentrification.
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Old 01-27-2008, 07:11 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crompsin
Oh, but going to jail for vandalism because you were "fighting the man" is a bad idea.
This is why we deserve to live under the oppression of the corporate state.
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Old 01-27-2008, 07:12 PM   #14 (permalink)
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This is why we deserve to live under the oppression of the corporate state.
Excuse me? Have you been to jail? The soap is absolutely horrible on my dry skin.
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Old 01-27-2008, 07:16 PM   #15 (permalink)
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You are all culture jamming my thread.

Except manic_skafe. He gets it.
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Old 01-27-2008, 07:33 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Do people really take this seriously?

I can't imagine anyone over 25 doing something like this.

I'm sure the sign industry thanks you for your support.
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Old 01-27-2008, 07:35 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Do people really take this seriously?

I can't imagine anyone over 25 doing something like this.
Screw you, Dad! You never let me do what I want! I need to express myself!

*slams bedroom door plastered with Coal Chamber and Tupac posters*
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Old 01-27-2008, 08:32 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Crompsin wins the thread with "Skippy". Y'all should follow his links.
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Old 01-27-2008, 09:28 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Damn, I wish I got it. I've read this thread like 3 times, and I'm still not sure I "get it."
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Old 01-27-2008, 09:47 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Damn, I wish I got it. I've read this thread like 3 times, and I'm still not sure I "get it."
Join the club.
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Old 01-28-2008, 05:13 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Oh, come on. It isn't that hard to understand.

You take a corporate symbol and modify it to express the opposite.

Sony makes TVs. TVs kinda enslave everybody. Use that angle.

McDonalds makes "food." Food that makes people fat. Use that angle.

This is about using graffiti to stick it to the man with his own symbols.
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Old 01-28-2008, 05:15 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenny_Lyte
Join the club.
Quote:
Culture jamming

Adbusters has been described as "the flagship publication of the culture jamming movement".[19] Adbusters is particularly well-known for their culture jamming campaigns,[20] and the magazine often features photographs of politically-motivated billboard or advertisement vandalism sent in by readers. A "culture jammer" is a person who "disrupts the status quo of corporate influence."[7] It takes the form of clever billboard modifications, google bombing, flash mobs and fake parking tickets for SUVs. The aim of culture jamming is to create a large contrast between the corporate image and the real consequences of corporate behavior. It is a form of protest, so the culture jammer aims to be as public as possible. Adbusters calls it "trickle up" activism, and encourages its readers to do these activities, and honors culture jamming work in the magazine. In the September/October 2001 "Graphic Anarchy" issue, Adbusters were culture jammed themselves in a manner of speaking: they hailed the work of Swiss graphic designer Ernst Bettler as "one of the greatest design interventions on record", unaware that Bettler's story was an elaborate hoax.

Adbusters' 'brand' of culture jamming has its roots in the activities of the situationists and in particular their concept of detournement. This means the "turning around" of received messages so that they communicate meanings at variance with their original intention. In the 'culture jamming' purview this means taking symbols, logos and slogans that are considered to be the vehicles upon which the "dominant discourse" of "late capitalism" is communicated and changing them - frequently in significant but minor ways - to subvert the "monologue of the ruling order" [Debord].
Adbusters - Wikipedia
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Old 01-28-2008, 05:30 AM   #23 (permalink)
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My anti-consumerism is evident in my actions. I won't wear anyone's name plastered across my chest, on my ass or shoes. Wouldn't that be the ultimate pop culture buster?

By defacing ads that are paid for, what's accomplished? More publicity for what you're proclaiming to be against? Maybe I'm missing something.
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Old 01-28-2008, 06:09 AM   #24 (permalink)
 
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détournement.
it's more than reworking adverts.
it's a way of life.

look it up--that way you have to find out about the situationist international.
i'd help, but it's monkey reset time and i gotta go.
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Old 01-28-2008, 06:16 AM   #25 (permalink)
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I did read quite a bit after the first post.

Quote:
Liberal and radical viewpoints tend to dominate subvertising, as one of the ideas behind the concept is to incite change by presenting easily recognizable and understandable images that can be shocking and even disturbing in their frankness. However, some people believe that subverts that are mockingly reminiscent of corporate or political symbols are simply giving those symbols undue publicity. People in this school of thought often argue that subverts serve no real purpose, and that, by bringing those icons forward in the public consciousness, subvertising in fact ends up supporting that which it was trying to destroy. Less commonly , subvertisements are used by conservatives. For example during the U.S. presidential election of 2000, the Republicans made signs Sore Loserman, for the Democratic party's candidates Gore/Lieberman, to express the uncertainty of election results.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subvertising

Although I can understand it from an artistic viewpoint, I guess I don't get it as "jamming" since it gives "those symbols undue publicity".
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Old 01-28-2008, 06:30 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jewels443
I did read quite a bit after the first post.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subvertising

Although I can understand it from an artistic viewpoint, I guess I don't get it as "jamming" since it gives "those symbols undue publicity".

The intent is to take those symbols and utilize their power (which lies is making subliminal their true message) and force those that watch their commercials and view their adverts to actually consider not only what they're being sold but what sort of effect all of these messages have impressed upon them.

While these "culture jammers" are often too concerned with "freeing minds" from "corporate slavery" - I think it's important, especially in these times, for people and especially children to realize the true intent and meaning of all these messages that are forced upon us.

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Old 01-28-2008, 06:35 AM   #27 (permalink)
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My personal form of culture jamming is that I ignore the crap I don't want or like. The rest of it seems like a silly game and useless except to get a laugh from your other culture jamming buddies.
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Old 01-28-2008, 07:20 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BadNick
My personal form of culture jamming is that I ignore the crap I don't want or like. The rest of it seems like a silly game and useless except to get a laugh from your other culture jamming buddies.
I think this is true to some extent. Those people who are most likely to have a favorable reaction to culture-jamming would be those who are already aware and in favor of it. For others, they either don't believe they are susceptible to messages or they don't care and see fighting it to be a waste of time.

But in saying that, I don't to leave the impression that I don't think culture-jamming is worthwhile and valuable. Like I said, I do it all the time in my own little world and I'm one of the most cynical anti-marketing, anti-consumerism bitches you'll ever meet.
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Old 01-28-2008, 07:33 AM   #29 (permalink)
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I read an article about a culture jammer who printed up a bunch of Wikipedia "Citation Needed" stickers for use on advertising. For example:

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Old 01-28-2008, 07:43 AM   #30 (permalink)
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So can culture-jamming be considered a form of sub-culture in itself? While I get what they're doing, and in some of the more creative versions find it amusing, it reminds me of people who dress "goth" to be different from everyone else. They're different from everyone else, except the people who are just like them.

Perhaps I don't get what they're doing as much as I think I do.
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Old 01-28-2008, 08:13 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manic_Skafe
I think it's important, especially in these times, for people and especially children to realize the true intent and meaning of all these messages that are forced upon us.
We had a course in school which taught about planned obsolescence, the media, marketing and advertising that was required in order to graduate high school. As parents, isn't it our job to pass this along to our kids?

For those of you that are into culture jamming, I truly want to understand how and why you think it's effective. The Sony pic that JJ posted (#7), for example. "There's nothing good on TV." Cute. Clever. Funny. But do you really think that anyone's not going to buy a Sony or not watch TV because of that?
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Old 01-28-2008, 08:20 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Seems rather stupid. I always get chafed at the idea that I'm thought of as some corporate slave. It's an insult to my intelligence for somebody to assume that I'm buying any product based on a billboard or some corporate logo.
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Old 01-28-2008, 08:27 AM   #33 (permalink)
 
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I wish I could form my thoughts as well as Miss Media does..

I believe that this term, and subsequently action, 'culture- jamming' can,
and will be as varied, subtle,or down your throat 'not so subtle'

as the advertisements themselves are. Sometimes my humor is so dry I end
up taking myself seriously...

It can be effective in the short term to help people to question what they are seeing...and I believe it can take something quite shocking to garner
some peoples attention than others...

I have a headache now..from thinking....'Apply Directly To The Forehead'
indeed.
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Old 01-28-2008, 08:40 AM   #34 (permalink)
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I'm happy I said I was lost. Thanks to everyone who has explained. As it turns out, I have "culture jammed" a number of times, usually in the car, some radio ad will be "heard" and the jamming begins.

I think it does have it's place, but (as already stated) it's among those who already don't agree with the way corporate business, marketing, and media go about their business.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jewels443
We had a course in school which taught about planned obsolescence, the media, marketing and advertising that was required in order to graduate high school. As parents, isn't it our job to pass this along to our kids?
I'd have to say that you were pretty lucky. In my schools I remember seeing signs that reminded us to buy pop from one of the machines or at lunch. And, yes, it is the parents job, but only if they are aware of it in the first place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Randle2I
So can culture-jamming be considered a form of sub-culture in itself? While I get what they're doing, and in some of the more creative versions find it amusing, it reminds me of people who dress "goth" to be different from everyone else. They're different from everyone else, except the people who are just like them.
This, I would say, is just how it happens. The first group of Goths were truly trying to be "not like everyone else." But like every good idea, it gets borrowed, added to, taken away from, and made into a other market the corporate business use to make money. However, I can't see them "making fun of themselves" for a few extra sells - and because of that culture jamming might not be able to make it's way into a mainstreamed sub-culture. If we're lucky, it's stay a normal old sub-culture and continue to make people stop and think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manic_Skafe
I think it's important, especially in these times, for people and especially children to realize the true intent and meaning of all these messages that are forced upon us.

That image just blow me away. And because of that, I think it would help people see what these ads are really selling us. So again, I'd have to agree with the point of culture jamming. And I'll also have to take some more time and look at the different "hows" of it.

Thanks for starting the OP. I love it when I learn cool shit without trying.
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Old 01-28-2008, 10:09 AM   #35 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuasiMondo
It's an insult to my intelligence for somebody to assume that I'm buying any product based on a billboard or some corporate logo.
Perhaps you don't, but there are many people out there that this works on. No matter what the level of advertisement at some point in your life it's going to have an effect on your purchasing decision. It may be that when you see a BMW M series you quietly think to yourself "Ultimate Driving Machine", it might be something less intuitive like not buying an iPod because you associate them with elitist snobs, an idea reaffirmed by their advertising but not outright in spoken word. I myself have gone out of my way to order parts from certain Ford dealerships because they advertise on & support the SCCOA. So while you may not be a corporate slave I'm fairly certain that at some point in time advertising/name recognition/logo's have effected your purchasing.

*edit* Remember boys & girls to proof read :smacks forehead:
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Old 01-28-2008, 11:18 AM   #36 (permalink)
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Perhaps you don't, but there are many people out there that this works on. No matter what the level of advertisement at some point in your life it's going to have an effect on your purchasing decision. It may be that when you see a BMW M series you quietly think to yourself "Ultimate Driving Machine", it might be something less intuitive like not buying an iPod because you associate them with elitist snobs, an idea reaffirmed by their advertising but not outright in spoken word. I myself have gone out of my way to order parts from certain Ford dealerships because they advertise on & support the SCCOA. So while you may not be a corporate slave I'm fairly certain that at some point in time advertising/name recognition/logo's have effected your purchasing.
The best way for me to NOT buy something is to over advertise it, but I know I'm not immune, really no one is, thats why the adds work.

For me the issue is, so what? We live in a time of insane prosperity by any past standards. I recall reading that an 'average' middle class lifestyle today would have required 125 slaves to maintain in ancient Rome. How they came to this figure I do not recall but its an interesting thought that for all our whining, even the poor are fat, healthier (despite their greater problems), and better educated than almost anyone up until this century. A big part of that are these corporations which people like to malign, but they have done FAR more good for people than harm. Its a system that overwhelmingly works.

So I'll raise my glass of Miller Lite, while watching the Superbowl on my Sony HD TV, and give thanks to the corporations that made it possible. They don't have to love me, they don't do it to be nice to me, but it all works out in the end.
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Old 01-28-2008, 11:54 AM   #37 (permalink)
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I think there are two levels of culture-jamming. There's the serious, and there's the just for fun. I prefer the second, as I doubt the first will ever have any effect.

For some great examples of the second version, try Improv Everywhere (they were just in the news for No Pants 2K8), as well as the audio-only Free Speech For Sale (part of the Snuggles collective, inspired by Negativland).
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Old 01-28-2008, 01:56 PM   #38 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Redlemon
I think there are two levels of culture-jamming. There's the serious, and there's the just for fun. I prefer the second, as I doubt the first will ever have any effect.

For some great examples of the second version, try Improv Everywhere (they were just in the news for No Pants 2K8), as well as the audio-only Free Speech For Sale (part of the Snuggles collective, inspired by Negativland).
I don't know. That seems like one level to me, because depending on who's looking at it that "serious" piece of culture jamming looks like a joke, and how often are "jokes" taken seriously.

So there may be are two level in production, but that would be very limiting in perception.
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Last edited by dd3953; 01-29-2008 at 05:04 PM..
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Old 01-28-2008, 02:29 PM   #39 (permalink)
Getting it.
 
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I am short on time now so I can't spend time on this but I will say that Culture Jammers, like most counter cultural efforts to bring down "consumer culture" miss their mark completely. I believe they fundamentally don't understand how capitalism and pop culture works.

Capitalism thrives on alternative culture, coolness and rebelliousness.

If you truly want to bring down capitalism, the key is to radically conform.
Buy nothing? feh. Earn nothing. This will truly bring down the "system".
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Old 01-28-2008, 04:24 PM   #40 (permalink)
Pissing in the cornflakes
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlatan
Earn nothing. This will truly bring down the "system".
I have to wonder if any of them ever ask why they want to bring it down and what it can be replaced with thats better.

Stupid kids.
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