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OurSpace: Resisting the Corporate Control of Cultureby Christine Harold
Synopses & Reviews
Culture jamming is so twentieth century! What's next?
When reporters asked about the Bush administration's timing in making their case for the Iraq war, then Chief of Staff Andrew Card responded that "from an marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." While surprising only in its candor, this statement signified the extent to which consumer culture has pervaded every aspect of life. For those troubled by the long reach of the marketplace, resistance can seem futile. However, a new generation of progressive activists has begun to combat the media supremacy of multinational corporations by using the very tools and techniques employed by their adversaries.
In OurSpace, Christine Harold examines the deployment and limitations of "culture jamming" by activists. These techniques defy repressive corporate culture through parodies, hoaxes, and pranks. Among the examples of sabotage she analyzes are the magazine Adbusters' spoofs of familiar ads and the Yes Men's impersonations of company spokespersons.
While these strategies are appealing, Harold argues that they are severely limited in their ability to challenge capitalism. Indeed, many of these tactics have already been appropriated by corporate marketers to create an aura of authenticity and to sell even more products. For Harold, it is a different type of opposition that offers a genuine alternative to corporate consumerism. Exploring the revolutionary Creative Commons movement, copyleft, and open source technology, she advocates a more inclusive approach to intellectual property that invites innovation and wider participation in the creative process.
From switching the digital voice boxes of Barbie dolls and G.I. Joe action figures to inserting the silhouetted image of Abu Ghraib's iconic hooded and wired victim into Apple's iPod ads, high-profile instances of anticorporate activism over the past decade have challenged, but not toppled, corporate media domination. OurSpace makes the case for a provocative new approach by co-opting the logic of capitalism itself.
Book News Annotation:
Harold (speech communication, U. of Georgia) examines and assesses strategies of resistance to the cultural control of the marketplace, which is the product of an "emerging shift from disciplinarity (which spotlights the political rhetoric of the nation-state) to control (which increasingly relies on the visual rhetoric of the market)" She identifies three modes of intervention against cultural control: symbolic sabotage such as that carried out by the magazine Adbusters, the appropriation of commercial rhetoric by pranking (as in the activist Yes Men's impersonations of corporate executives at trade shows and elsewhere) and pirating, and the augmentation and intensification of certain aspects of markets through the invocation of "the commons." It is the last of these strategies, exemplified by the Creative Commons movement and open source technology projects, that she finds the most valuable because they avoid seeing publics and markets in terms of strict dichotomies. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Christine Harold is assistant professor of speech communication at the University of Georgia.
Table of Contents
Introduction. The Brand Politics of Consuming Publics
1. Detours and Drifts: Situationist International and the Art of Resistance
2. Anti-Logos: Sabotaging the Brand through Parody
Intermezzo: And Now a Word from Our Sponsors
3. Pranks, Rumors, Hoaxes: “Dressing Up” and Folding as Rhetorical Action
Intermezzo: A Sequel
4. Pirates and Hijackers: Creative Publics and the Politics of “Owned Culture”
5. Inventing Publics: Kairos and Intellectual Property Law
Conclusion. From Private Rights to Common Goods: OurSpace as a Creative Commons
What Our Readers Are Saying
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