Culture Jamming

I took an alternative media class over last summer that really opened my eyes on different ways to communicate your message.

Culture jamming, which is term coined in 1984, is a tactic used by many people where a part of the anti-consumerist social movements to disrupt mainstream cultural institutions such as corporate advertising. A well-known group that is active in culture jamming is Adbusters. Adbusters describes itself as “a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age.” They have numerous spoof ads up on their website that are designed to comment on popular culture.

Culture jamming is so much more than just “subvertising.” Many culture jams are created to expose the questionable political assumptions behind some of the commercial culture. As you can see from this example, different tactics include re-figuring logos, writing commentary on fashion and product images in order to challenge assumptions about the freedoms of consumption or lack there of.

Other forms of culture jamming can include transforming mass media to produce ironic or comical commentary about itself, using the same medium of communication as the original. An example of this could be an activist creating a President Obama or Kim Kardashian twitter account and tweeting about topics that make it seem like they are making fun of themselves, producing satire. The culture jammers are creating a space where they can spur reaction in the public against social conformity for example.

 I personally though this notion was intriguing because I had never seen or heard of anything like it. Culture jamming can have an effect on the public in very real way. If done correctly, jamming can hit people on an emotional level, which sparks thought; then generates action. Any good ad in general needs to be able to do this. Advertising is a function of consumerism, yes, but it is also an effective way of building the foundations of millions of companies in our world. Our world runs on capitalism and I doubt that will change in the near future. That’s just how it is. Culture jammers try to break that truth.  They incorporate satire and humor to change the views of publics to create change in society.

The Adbusters website is filled with spoof ads and different campaigns people could join everyday. Currently they are extremely involved in the Occupy Wall Street Campaign and continue to challenge the “restrictions” of consumerism in our world. I salute them for their efforts and I guarantee they will not stop in the near future.