Spectacle and Disruption

In my discussion here on Society and the Spectacle, I will discuss the role of mass media and commodity culture. I found an interesting quote from our friends at Wikipedia about commodity and consumerism, “In a consumer society, social life is not about living, but about having; the spectacle uses the image to convey what people need and must have. Consequently, social life moves further, leaving a state of “having” and proceeding into a state of “appearing”; namely the appearance of the image” (Wikipedia). Although Debord’s text was published in 1967, its ideology still lives on. People wear the brands because of the portrayal by media. People act in a certain way because of what they see within media.

This brings up the idea of adbusters. We watched videos in class of creating art over billboards. I find those acts, along with the ideas of uncommercials and anti-advertising, fascinating.  Adbusters have the mission of changing the status quo. They blame, “advertising for playing a central role in creating, and maintaining, consumer culture” (Wikipedia). Basically, the idea is that advertising controls how we live. Can we live without the influence of ads? Without advertising, each person has a unique and original taste in their interests. With advertising, people are conditioned to look, “to external sources, to define their own personal identities” (Wikipedia).

Mass media and advertising has control over our sense of style, what we want to do, and virtually where you spend your money. Two of my favorite campaigns by Adbusters include the culture jamming and the blackspot shoes campaign. Culture jamming involves removing people from the “isolated reality of consumer comforts.” This movement allows people to expand their interests beyond mainstream consumerism, into their own interests and ideas. What is the difference between a cotton t-shirt with a nike logo and no logo–we pay an extra $10 for the logo. Art here involves vandalizing and re-creating advertisements and billboards to make fun of and expose corporations and the consumerist culture.

The Blackspot shoes campaign involves re-branding shoes to make them look like mainstream brands–like Nike or Converse.  The idea is to, “‘Rethink the Cool’ inviting wearers to join a movement, and two spots – one for drawing their own logos and another on the toe for ‘kicking corporate ass.'” (wikipedia). This idea of moving away from mainstream looks and brands to create one’s own look. This is a big move away from the mainstream status quo.

Adbusters is intriguing to me because it is a revolt against those who control our culture. These corporations and big businesses control our looks, what we eat, what we drive, and how we spend our money. Adbusters fights back and basically makes fun of each company’s mission through photoshopping their logos and making them look bad. Many are humorous, I love their work!

wikipedia links:




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