Culture-Jamming and E-Literature Essay

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Culture-Jamming and E-Literature

It is an act of sympathetic magic performed in the name of all who are obliged to peer at the world through peepholes owned by multinational conglomerates for whom the profit margin is the bottom line.

-Mark Drey, “Empire of Signs”

What is Culture-Jamming? #1

When we look for the roots of the term culture-jamming, we find that what began as billboard alteration and has come to define a host of activities which we can call media activism. Here is a look what was possibly the first billboard ever “jammed”: www.billboardliberation.com/actions/facts.pix.html. Why billboards? Billboards are representative of a unidirectional communication process in which moterists and any other nearby recievers
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The phrase “culture-jamming” was coined (of course there is contention as to the originator) by Negativeland, "to describe billboard alteration and other forms of media sabotage. On Jamcon ’84, a mock-serious bandmember observes, ‘. . .The skillfully reworked billboard…directs the public viewer to a consideration of the original corporate strategy. The studio for the culture jammer is the world at large.’” (Drey, “Empire”).Ron English, who has recently written the book Propaganda: Art and the Subversion of Culture (www.popaganda.com), refashions the iconography of Disney cartoon characters to show how the images of multimedia companies are affecting our awareness. When we discuss the power of marketing images, it might be helpful to look at the logical extreme of this process of corporate encultration:

[f]or the repurposing of blockbuster movies such as the Batman series, the goal is to have the child watching a Batman video while wearing a Batman cape, eating a fast-food meal with a Batman promotional wrapper, and playing with a Batman toy. The goal is literally to engage all of the child’s senses. (Bolter and Grusin 68)

This kind of “engagement of senses” is not exactly naïve, since it rests upon an exorbitant profit of which its producers are fully conscious. To forward the profit paradigm, an “empire of signs” is constructed and maintained by large multimedia communications companies (among others) to control as much of the communication process as

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