Archive for culture jam

Why Harvard Needs The Culture Jam

Although by now it’s no longer accurate to hip-smugly call the culture jamming/Reclaim the Streets movement “underground” (Banksy was in the New York Times and the Yes Men were in the Washington Post for god’s sake), it’s critique, so nicely put together by Naomi Klein in her canonical No Logo, is still pretty terrifically viable despite coming together close to a decade ago and being severely rhetorically ripped a new one in Heath’s The Rebel Sell. In its broadest construction, the idea is pretty simple: we used to have a public space, which provided the positive room for discussion and creativity. But this got enclosed. We need to take it back.

Though it applies broadly to all sorts of situations, I think Harvard itself desperately needs active culture jamming, if not only because the space it creates is so symptomatic of this critique.

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My Way or the Pie Way

I was reading Ourspace by Christine Harold and found mention of this most excellent culture jamming group, the Biotic Baking Brigade. Their tactic is simple, beautiful, and…uh…delicious. When a politician, businessman, or public figure does something out of line, the Baking Brigade reprimands them with a simple pie to the face. An example:

Yep, that’s Micro$oft CEO Bill Gates with a lot of pie all over him. Other victims have included: Willie Brown, ex-mayor of San Francisco, Fred Phelps, Milton Friedman, etc.

Christine Harold makes an excellent argument for why this type of silliness is actually a more effective culture jamming strategy than, say, the glossy parodies of Ad-Busters. She refers to a pie in the face as “visual Esperanto”. A review of this book is DEFINITELY forthcoming.

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