Recently, I read an article regarding culture jamming by Kalle Lasn. Broadly speaking, culture jamming is our “belligerent attitude” towards authority, or our instincts to go against authority where information flows from the “powerful to the powerless” in a trickle down style. Culture Jammers are then those who take big risks and commit themselves to “small, spontaneous movements of truth.”
Lasn states that culture jamming may be relatively new term, but it is an old movement. Take for example the punk hippies movement, the Surrealists, Anarchists, and so on. However, the most important movement is the Situationist International founded by Guy Debord. These individuals believed that the reflexive way of acting and reacting, living and existing in capitalist societies were killing the “real” way of living life and concentrated on the “novelty” as a way of life. The SI spoke of the everyday way of life (advertising, tv, and commodity consumption) as “spectacles” and were thoroughly against it.
So without, getting into too much detail, what do these jammers do in order to revive the authenticity of life? In order to break free of this mass-culture, what do you do? The idea was called derive or “the drift” which was borrowed from the Dadaists but was defined by the SI as “locomotion without a goal.”
You float through the city, open to whatever you come in contact with, thus exposing yourself to the whole spectrum of feelings you encountered by chance in your everyday life. Openness is key (Kalle Lasn).”
Lasn talks about Marcus’ idea about the “democracy of false desire,” that is how our society and all the media in large offer us the illusion of choices, however, in actuality reducing them to a select number of products or commodities such as action movies, political scandals, ball games, and so on.
Fast forward into actual practice, Lasn talks about Demarketing Loops. Uncooling what is considered cool now and bringing back the authentic version of life. No more Nikes and Calvin Kleins, privately owned media, fast food, cars, and essentially, consumption. So, not buying basically means not buying into consumer culture, which losens the grip of corporations on us as “consumers (Lasn).” Downshifting into the slow lane of life, thinking green, consuming green, thinking about social costs and benefits, family life, and so on. The more you have does not equal to more happiness or joy. Forget McDonalds, make your own burgers. Walk into a class room lecture dressed as a professor (in a satirical way, ofcourse) and talk about educational propaganda. Or wake up in the morning and jump into a tub full of water and ice. Shocks the body, doesn’t it?
This is exactly what Lasn talks about. Jumping into the tub is a mindful, spontaneous decision and doesn’t follow the mentally learnt schemas of culture and society.
Basically, then, we want to “reverse the spin cycle… Demarket our news, our entertainments, our lifestyles and desires – and eventually, maybe even our dreams” that have been constructed by the media. Everything is a simulation of life: a hyperreality, where the goal to be achieved in the capitalist system is so ideal that it does not exist except by enhancement through digital technology.