from Stuff White People Like: #82 Hating Corporations

If you plan to engage in lengthy conversations or get high with white people it is recommended that you read No Logo or one issue of AdBusters. Failing that, it is acceptable to buy a copy to leave on your coffee table. When white people see it, they will recognize you as someone who can see through the advertising and has a proper perspective on life.

Christian Lander













Reviewed by
Marshall Kitchens

Harold organizes her argument into five chapters, moving from futile resistance to countercultural commons.

In Chapter 1 (Detours and Drifts: Situationist International and the Art of Resistance) she identifies the germination of the culture jammer movement in the Situationist International (SI), the French Leftist organization led most ostensibly by theorist Guy Debord, author of The Society of the Spectacle. Harold provides a concise history and overview of the SI movement and deftly defines and explicates key terms such as détournement and dérive as ways the situationists offered of resisting the false consciousness of the Spectacle. Ultimately, though, within the current context of late capitalism, she sees these strategies as being inadequate to address the complexities of the current control society of postmodernity: "given the persuasive ubiquity of late capitalism, the dream of the outsider hero, who sees through the false consciousness of branding and the alleged dissolution of the public that accompanies it, seems increasingly phantasmal" (26).

Chapter 2 (Anti-Logos: Sabotaging the Brand through Parody) examines contemporary attempts to engage in neo-situationist techniques: sabotage and parody, as well as pirating and pranking through appropriation. Citing examples such as Adbusters' "Buy Nothing Day," subvertisements such as the Breast Cancer Fund's "Obsessed with Breasts" public awareness campaign, and the Blackspot sneaker campaign. Here, Harold returns to an expanded discussion of Deleuze and Foucault and their distinctions between sovereign power, disciplinary power, and the control over communication. While sabotage and parody may have been effective in an era of disciplinary power, the strategies of parody evident in Adbusters campaigns (or even campaigns such as the Seattle WTO protests) do not take into account the cultural shift to a branding based economy, and subsequently fail to "take the image rhetoric of advertising seriously enough" (52). However, Harris refutes claims by those such as Heath and Potter that dismiss the efforts of fair trade and ethical marketing such as the Blackspot campaign: "Adbusters deserves credit for updating their political strategies for the new brand economy" (69).

Chapter 3 (Pranks, Rumors, and Hoaxes) and Chapter 4 (Pirates and Hijackers) examine practices of culture jamming that illustrate moderately effective responses to the shift from disciplinary societies to control societies. While Chapter 3 focuses on appropriation, using "tools of the mass media and marketing to call attention to the constructedness of the spectacle," Chapter 4 focuses on "pirating" and "hijacking" as practices that use tools of control toward different ends. In these two chapters, Harold cites groups such as the Barbie Liberation Organization that switched voice boxes between Barbie and G.I. Joe dolls, the Biotic Baking Brigade known for pie-ing "pompous people," the Yes Men performance pranksters, and the Truth anti-tobacco campaign. She also discusses the practice of copyright infringement as a form of sampling similar to the hip hop riffs of Public Enemy and DJ Spooky. Harold concludes by posing Creative Commons as a method of augmenting "copyright law in an attempt to intensify the circulation of resources" (132).

In Chapter 5, "Inventing Publics: Kairos and Intellectual Property Law," Harold proposes a re-invisioning of "public" as Michael Warner has theorized, redefining the public sphere as discursive textual spaces involving intersections of various texts rather than the monolithic sphere suggested by Habermas. This pivot from sphere to textual spaces calls on a protection of the commons through open content as encouraged by the Creative Commons movement. In this sense, intellectual property becomes rooted in kairos (situation) rather than chronos (time). "Creative Commons," Harold argues, "is an attempt to designate a multiplicity of ways to share art, information, images, and music. It makes more complex and detailed the current zero-sum model of intellectual property" (144). Harold sees this creative commons movement as a way to safeguard the body public from the influences of corporate power. While Harold lists a number of ethereal activities in the pro-choice copyright movement such as open source literature, music, and research, the ultimate benefit of this pivot in relation to the goals of the previous resistance groups such as the Situationists, the Barbie Liberation Organization, and the Yes Men performance pranksters, is ultimately unclear. The reader is left to wonder how the discursive practices of the Creative Commons movement will be grounded in lived experiences to result in progressive social movements.

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