counterculture criticism continued March 3rd, 2008
for context on this post, read “allow me to disagree…” from March 2. much of this post has been inspired by the book mentioned in that post, “Nation of Rebels”, by Heath and Potter.
i’m writing this post from a unique place, not emotionally- geographically. we’re on vacation just outside of Vail, Colorado. it’s a really beautiful place. we are staying at this nice house that belongs to the family of some friends of ours.
my criticism of “counterculture” continues today with a critique of the anti-corporate ad “guerilla tactics” promoted by Adbusters and other organizations.
First, let me be clear- I HATE MOST ADVERTISING. it’s ugly, annoying, demeaning, and frustrating. it represents a mentality that is beyond unhealthy, the basis of which is “keep buying stuff to stay happy”. it’s a bit ironic for me to be writing about this, as i don’t exactly corner the market on happiness either, but i have addressed that in other posts.
the points are as follows:
1. most advertising sucks- this i agree with Adbusters on.
2. it feels good to tear down ads, to “culture jam“, and it may even change a few minds to do these acts of rebellion against corporo-pop culture.
3. culture jamming is not the most effective way to bring change to this sphere
4. as with the examples mentioned in my previous post, direct action can be fun, but real change happens when people pursue legal means within the system rather than outside of it. this is NOT always the case, but in this one it is.
would we be better off with less advertising? yeah. is it “mental pollution”? yeah. if i put anti-coke stickers on a vending machine is that going to change anything? probably not.
but what if i begin networking with people who want to see ad culture shrink, and we use the courts for leverage, as Heath and Potter suggest? the authors suggest that if corporations were only allowed tax breaks on half of their advertising budget, instead of 100%, then they would spend less money on advertising. less incentive, less spending, less ads.
this strikes me as a real, practical solution (or at least an avenue worth pursuing). has anybody tried this? or do we just have too much fun blocking traffic, spray painting over billboards and silkscreening our own un-brand T shirts? Don’t get me wrong!!! i love that stuff. i’ve done it, and may continue to do so. i just don’t think that it’s really going to change anything, and if i want to really see change in this area i need to pursue legal action.
IMPORTANT: i don’t believe that any problem can be “settled in the courts”. for example, the civil rights movement, before and after victories in the courts had to take that fight to the streets. Perhaps i will write more on the differences between the two, but i don’t think i will do that at this time- i have a headache.
the short version of the reasoning of the culture jammers is, “you cant use a broken system to fix a broken system- we need to overthrow everything”. that is the basic root of disagreement that i have with counterculture.
more on that in a future post.