January 6, 2006

Culture Jam

Let me introduce you to Adbusters founder, Kalle Lasn. Done. Now let me introduce you to his book, Culture Jam. So far, so interesting. He speaks of America as not a diverse country but a powerful brand that is causing a global pandemic and even manipulating us into consumer obsessers who live "designer" lives. His bottom line? Our culture is headed in the wrong direction and he wants to create a movement of people who become "culture jammers." People who are dedicated to the "uncooling of America." I love that idea. He proposes a way out by uncooling consumer items, demarketing fashions and celebrities and by breaking the "media trance" of our TV-addicted age. He writes, "Our mass media dispense a kind of Huxleyan 'soma.' The most powerful narcotic in the world is the promise of belonging. And belonging is best achieved by conforming to the prescriptions of America. In this way a perverted sense of cool takes hold of the imaginations of our children. And thus a heavily manipulative corporate ethos drives our culture. Cool is indispenable--and readily, endlessly dispensed. You can get it on every corner (for the right price), though it's highly addictive and its effects are short-lived. If you're here for cool today, you'll almost certainly be back for more tomorrow."

Similar ideas and thoughts have invaded my mind over the last couple of years as I've traveled, been endlessly sickened by American "cool" and felt the pressure of acquiring certain consumer goods. And up to this point, these endless thoughts have been laying dormant in frustration. My questions began multiplying.

Does anyone else think our culture is sliding into a giant pit? How many parts of my day are involved with a corporation? What influences my decision to buy certain goods? Have I been branded myself? Is my personality and core values more a reflection of the person I was created to be or a culture obsessed with cool?

Can anyone else relate? In the middle, I think this book will touch emotions that need to be awakened by practical ideas. For too long, I have let my frustrations turn to cynicism, which of course, leads to indifference. I hope this doesn't last. So cheers to being a culture jammer in 2006. Anyone care to join?


Joe said...

You Bet. Case in point...


JohnLDrury said...


Right on with culture jamming. I have been trying to uncool since 2003 when Mandy and I unplugged our tv. Living lives without commercials is so freeing!

Have fun finding your own way to culture jam this year!


::athada:: said...



I like that article that you linked her name to. I'm attracted to a sustained, sensical activism.

I often boast about how many commercials and TV shows I have NOT seen... but the INTERNET is making solid investments into my everyday life. I'm wondering if it is any better.

Onward with discussions on CultureJamming. I want to write a little ditty on "downward mobility" this month.

::athada:: said...

Joe -

Kuntstler... he was on "The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream".

Have you seen that?

JJ - Check out "The End of Suburbia".

Brock Sheets said...

I haven't had TV for at least 5 years now. But I still think iPods are cool!!


Joe said...


I have, his books are pretty good too ( Check "Geography of Nowhere"). His blog "Cluster****" Is an interesting weekly read. However, his mantra can get a bit weary.


::athada:: said...

I read the Jan. 2 entry. Yeah, the mantra gets old REAL fast.

Jeremy R said...

I don't know if any of you remember these days, but, middle school and high school were filled with trying to be cool. It mostly focused having the "right" clothes. I.E. the most expensive brand names. Then all of a sudden there was this movement (I don't know what else to call it) that began doing the opposite (maybe that is culture jamming) by buying their clothes at thrift stores. Josh, I know you were into the thrift stores, remember buying sweat cords even though the waist was 48 inches, and safety pinning them?

Anyway, I would like to say that the problem has been clearly stated. Although I don't believe the solution is the right direction either. The "cool" crazed consumer american that has been described is mearly a sympom of the real disease, the real problem. I believe the problem is in our belief system. All people, all over the world have a deep need to belong; to be loved and connect to others. Unfortunaly we are willing to do whatever it takes to experience it. What I believe our hearts truly desire is Christ. Our hearts long for a deep, intimate, unity to Christ and all of the spiritual blessings that come from knowing him. Will knowing Christ bring significance, belonging, fullfillment, purpose, love? I think it does.

Anonymous said...

Some people work even harder than the "cool" people to be "uncool". Judging, rolling eyes, smirks at the Gap people.

Josh said...

It's nice to hear from some fellow culture jammers out there. Thanks for the ideas and links! I hope to find new ways to jam this year - I'll keep you posted.

Jeremy - Good to hear from you!! Yes, I'm still a thrift store shopper. It's my primary way of finding fabric to cover up my nakedness (isn't that the point of clothing anyway?). I understand bringing in Jesus to this...he can be ultimate satisfaction. But, most of the Christians I know are stride for stride with those who don't follow Jesus in consuming. Not even Jesus has cured this in most people. So it seems we can go about fixing this by:

1. Teaching people what Jesus taught about money, posessions and time.
2. Speak out against a consumerism that steals our identity, time and prevents us from using our resources for good in the world.
3. Living out simplicity and generosity at the deepest level: everyday life.

Maybe we can join together. You focus on #1 and I'll tackle #2 and #3.

Anon - Not sure what your point is. If you have something to say, please stand up and say it. We're not trying to judge...just trying to be a voice of dissent in a matter that has crept up on America and left 80% in debt, identity crisis and without any leftoever means to help people. This isn't about people who work at the Gap or being "uncool" for the sake of trying to be cool.

Brandon & Jennifer said...

Hey Josh!

I saw a comment you made on Matt Carder's blog about how you like "In N Out Burger", so I thought I would visit your blog and see if I could pay you to ship me a burger and fries!! Maybe you could sell frozen In N Out Burgers online - I would be be a regular!

Remember our trip to CA in 1998 to look at colleges??? I think that might have been when I first developed a love for In N Out!

Just sayin' "hi" (sorry I'm not great at staying in touch or updated on the blogs). Later on, -B

Post a Comment