Culture jamming

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Culture jamming, a protest form that capitalizes on mainstream culture and mass media to contest prevailing ideologies, primarily targets consumerism and corporate influence. Mark 3000 initially coined the term in 1981, though it is frequently misattributed to Don Joyce from 1984. This activist approach takes inspiration from various sources, such as the Situationist International movement of the 1950s and John Heartfield’s artistic creations. Tactics of culture jamming typically utilize components like memes and détournement to interrupt conventional thinking and trigger societal transformation. This can involve the subversion of familiar symbols, such as the golden arches of McDonald’s or Nike’s swoosh, to critique societal institutions and political presuppositions. Certain culture jamming methods even strive to confront and surpass the existing corporate hegemony in society.

Culture jamming (Wikipedia)

Culture jamming (sometimes also guerrilla communication) is a form of protest used by many anti-consumerist social movements to disrupt or subvert media culture and its mainstream cultural institutions, including corporate advertising. It attempts to "expose the methods of domination" of mass society.

Satirical billboard graffiti in Shoreditch, London

Culture jamming employs techniques originally associated with Letterist International, and later Situationist International known as détournement. It uses the language and rhetoric of mainstream culture to subversively critique the social institutions that produce that culture. Tactics include editing company logos to critique the respective companies, products, or concepts they represent, or wearing fashion statements that criticize the current fashion trends by deliberately clashing with them. Culture jamming often entails using mass media to produce ironic or satirical commentary about itself, commonly using the original medium's communication method. Culture jamming is also a form of subvertising.

Culture jamming is intended to expose questionable political assumptions behind commercial culture, and can be considered a reaction against politically imposed social conformity. Prominent examples of culture jamming include the adulteration of billboard advertising by the Billboard Liberation Front and contemporary artists such as Ron English. Culture jamming may involve street parties and protests. While culture jamming usually focuses on subverting or critiquing political and advertising messages, some proponents focus on a different form which brings together artists, designers, scholars, and activists to create works that transcend the status quo rather than merely criticize it.

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