Murder King – Cultural Jamming

When we walk down the street, when we drive a car, or take a bus trip, we may be thinking that that is all there it is – us, the other people and the town (streets, road, building etc). However, there is always much more that comprises our reality, and those are the symbols, the signs which prey on us from all directions. We think we may understand them or take them as a basic messages:” Oh another McDonald’s add,” or an advertisement of a beautiful girl posing for a famous clothing or shoe brand or a picture of a well-known smiling politician surrounded with slogans that are packed with positive sayings.

That’s why the term ‘cultural jamming” came up front, meaning; “a new way of conceiving the world’ and ‘ modifiying ..popular thought and mummified popular culture.’ (Gramsci, 1971 :417). Cultural jamming carries the influence of its predecessor art movements, such as Situationists and detourement.

The most well-known type of culture jamming is subvertising. Subvertisements are creative ads targeted at various suspicious ads which advertise one thing but the truth behind the thing advertising may be different or capitalistic societies and globally well-known slogans of gigantic corporations. These slogans are ironically or satirically modified. The aim here is to get specific messages to the consumers (us) to think twice or at least get us thinking about the things we buy and consume. Also to rethink the slogans and our opinion and awareness of major global corporations that are advertising themselves just about everywhere they can.

We separate three types of cultural jamming, political, social signs and signs of our time (Internet as an alternative medium of distribution for jams). Political jams are directed against government policies or formal political actors, such as political parties; against undesirable behavior in society; or even at times against minorities in society (Bailey, O., Understanding alternative media; 140).

Political Jam: The example below borrowed from the Adbusters.org, with the title The economists must learn to substract, shows such a anti-government and anti – economical advert. In this clip the advertisers shows the cruel opposites between the economy and the growing GDP and its effect in real life:” Every time the tree is cut the GDP goes up, every time the oil spill happens the GDP goes up, every time the cancer patient is diagnose, GDP goes up – is that how we measure our economical progress?”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0hTtAfjBhyo

 

Social / Cultural Jams: jams target the society, adverts, videos, films, street art etc. to show the satire, irony to get us to rethink the symbols we are used to seeing each day, so our reality of the world. Examples below target various global multi-national corporation companies’ slogans and our unstoppable desire for shopping and our obsession with it.

Finally we can talk about the The Internet as an alternative medium of distribution for jams: in a modern times Internet became indispensable for an average consumer in a developed countries, therefore Internet is important for distribution of jams and it spreads them like a virus from one community to the other.

Examples of subvertising are shown below:

In this ad a world famous golfs tiger Woods has his smile shaped into a Nike tick symbol. Suggesting maybe that big globalization firms are using famous sports people who sell themselves for the propaganda and waste money earnings.  

Very popular Burger King becomes a Murder King, questioning the substance and the quality of food  or maybe questioning the ingredients they are selling to their customers and the effect of these on their health. Can be even the cause of deadly illnesses such as cancer.

Four global multi corporation companies are satirically portrayed as an ideas driven by the capitalism.

Globaly famous Coca Cola ad, is suggesting to enjoy the capitalism that goes with it. In a sense spreading a drink is spreading a certain monopole system, ideology, economic and political view of a limited few.

Satirical advert is presenting so called “shopping human evolution”, where the straight standing consumer throw himself into a shopping spring, and ending up bend, physically smaller because of the burden of the all packages from the shopping he did. It’s the reverse biological evolution of the human species proposed by Charles Darwin in 19 c. Maybe it’s trying to show how in a way we are regression as oppose to progressing in human evolution.    

 

Comments below the subvertizing ads are my own interpretations of the way I see and understand these rather unique ads. Naturally, different interpretations are possible as well, I believe the aim here is to get an individual thinking and starts seeing an average images we are used to seeing on a daily basis as extraordinary, and questions it’s use.

What do you think about it? How would you interpret the ads, is there anything else you think that needs to be said here? All of you are welcome to participate…

 

References:

http://www.adbusters.org/

Bailey, O. G., Cammaerts, B. and Carpentier, N. (2008) Understanding Alternative Media.

Berkshire: Open University Press – chapter 10

http://tpduke.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/vc501-disseration-preperation-culture-jamming/

 

 

 

 

 

Alternative Foreign Channels – Our Enemies

Film, video and especially a television have been for the past fifty years in the developed countries and the last thirty to forty years in an undeveloped countries  a very important medium for the news broadcasting and entertainment   People get informed about the political, economic and environmental events via the television and news channels provided. Who is responsible for the selection of the news and also for the interpretation and the comments that accompany the news? How “objective” and “democratic” can be news that are broadcasted by the news channels belonging to the same cooperation and distribution companies and would like to continue to have a monopoly on world’s news?

A very interesting video got my attention just recently. In the video, Hilary Clinton, the U.S secretary of State is declaring that American television media and channels such as CNN and British BBC are under the “treat” and officially in the information war with the foreign media. The ones treating these Western mainstream media; who for a while, had a monopoly  for a short period in the world broadcasting world news, is an alternative media coming from the ‘enemy” countries such as Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela. These countries have established an international channels in different language, such as English, Spanish, Russian.. where they address same questions, events etc. with their own commentaries, that many times clash with the commentaries provided by the American and British news broadcasting giants.

Russia became worldwide known with its RT – Russia Today, which is registered as autonomous non-profit organization.  China’s CCTV (China Central television), broadcasting from Peking, has a network of 22 channels broadcasting different programs, such as news, documentary, entertainment. Similarly, Al Jazeera which is owned privately by Al Jazeera Media Network stated in Doha, Qatar.

In the name of USA broadcasting network news, Hilary Clinton supported by the American broadcasting cooperations, perceives  that having an alternative views broadcasting by a foreign media on the news and especially on the USA political moves and actions, as a war. Therefore America is in a way a “good guy” here and the foreign media is “an enemy”. Clinton goes with her definitions on the subject saying that Al Jazeera is winning; Russian’s open multilingual channel broadcasting, as did the Chinese. Apparently according to Hilary other influential countries are not supposed to be having an opinion on world’s events, opposing and criticizing the USA government and various events connected to it.  She speaks in such a way as if having a foreign media broadcasting in English would almost be a crime, not to mention a great threat to one-view oriented America and Britain.

As a result, CNN and BBC are making cuts, they are losing the public drastically, more and more people are hungry and searching for an alternative media outside these big news broadcasting companies that are no longer satisfying the general publish who started questioning single-minded one-view perspective on the world’s news. On the other hand, channels such as RT, Al Jazeera and CCTV are gaining more and more audience each day. RT has 550 million viewers in more than 100 countries, CCTV has an astonishing billion viewers.

 

Furthermore, what is interesting in the video with a Hilary Clinton, is the hostility she shows towards these non-American broadcasting channels, she goes as far as to call them “the enemies”, and sees the situation as the “We are in the information war and we are losing the war.”  So apparently, having a different opinion or giving a different comment to a situation being broadcasted on let’s say CNN, makes you an enemy, which I perceive as a strongly negative word, enemy is someone who wants to do you bad, harm you and your family and makes you in generally feel frightened. That diminishes the respect and credibility of the whole ideology as America being the role model of a democratic country in the world and even going as far as to “spread and fight for democracy in other countries.”

Can these foreign channels be classified as a radical alternative media towards the mainstream media? In a way, these channels are a mainstream media in their own countries, and truth to be told, they probably won’t stand the test of the Barber’s analytic categories such as agenda setting, exploring mutuality and affiliation and affection, witness and self-expression and community building. However, i am trying to show here that mainstream media all over the world, especially American and British one, may perceive others as a threat, and if they can’t stand difference of an opinion and criticize it so boldly, then this proves that alternative views are indeed necessary, otherwise why would American broadcasting made such a fuss?

Taking USA back in time when the media was still forming in the America. In American constitution is it written in a more freeway manner, that the media should be a “watchdog”, as to follow state’s flaws, mistakes, all and all criticize the government, follow and openly show the corruption in order to build a better and more democratic country. But is that really the case in the USA? The so called “freedom of speech” becomes questionable here, if we take Clinton’s words regarding the foreign TV channels, having a different opinion is not only bad is in fact a form of evil (hence the conclusion” our enemies”), America feels that they are out-communicated by their “enemies”, and therefore they have to defend their country, their interests. I would love to hear the further explanation of the USA  Head of Agency for foreign Broadcasting who in fact uses the term “enemies” regarding the foreign media, what exactly does it mean to be out-communicated? No one stops the CNN, FOX TV, BBC etc. to broadcast their news, it just that different views of points are available through different foreign channels and in a more accessible and easy to reach ways, such as internet, you tube etc.

Voices of other people from all over the world should and must be heard or at least they should have a chance to speak up and share their own experiences. One point of view of one country alone and one government cannot speak for the entire world; and if anything tolerance and respect should be practiced in worldwide broadcasting media news, to build a better tomorrow. As Martin Luther King put it:” Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

References:

http://www.listal.com/list/the-best-alternative-movies

http://tv.globalresearch.ca/2011/03/hillary-clinton-us-losing-information-war-alternative-media

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCyxfWa4yj8

 

 

Radio Favela – indispensable community radio

An interesting story coming from a small poor town named Aglomerado da Serra in Belo Horizonte in Brazil where a group of young black men in the beginning of 1980’s with the help of money given by one of boy’s mother to establish rather primitive radio station with a poor infrastructure. They named it FAVELA, which actually is a name for a slum, poor places filled with violence, drug dealing, murders etc. their aim was to connect people from the slum, to fight against violence and to stop drug dealing.

Furthermore, radio station turned out to become indispensable tool for the community that fought against poverty, severe electrical cuts, no running water and more. Favela radio station became a medium helping to locate missing children, calling ambulances for the injured and ill, locating the families, giving information for important issues. Even hospitals were sending the information about the victims of the accidents and attacks because they were not able to reach the family members other way.

Naturally, Radio Favela as a pirate radio station underwent many repression and attacks from the government police. One of Radio Favela’s founder Misael Avellino des Santos was arrested seven times, beaten and torture by a police. The police twice completely destroyed the radio station and even tried to connect the founders of the radio to a drug dealings and murders. After each collision, Radio Favela came back, mostly with the money collected from the local community, and the fight for radio’s existence continued for the next 23 years.

But why was the local government so intimidated by a rudimental radio station in one of many Brazilian favelas hiding up in the mountains? What was so powerful about the Favela Radio station that many saw it as a threat?

Radio Favela I think it’s a wonderful example of a community radio, young black boys started up a radio station that filled in so very necessary connection and help to the poor society they came from. That is exactly where the Brazilian government failed. Radio Favela was established with a rather modest financial input, yet because of its location up in the mountains it was accessible to variety of societies in a nearby cities, it soon became very popular among poor and also middle class. Favela was completely autonomous,   if anything government police was for years strongly opposing the Radio station and its founders. Furthermore, Radio Favela’s one and only main goal was to serve the community, being a voice, a medium of this community and therefore had no profit in goal intentionsListeners were not only supporters they were in a way Radio Favela, if they needed an ambulance they called the radio, if they wanted to talk to their friends and family, they called the radio, Radio Favela accepted over 500 calls all without censorship, calling to the Radio Favela meant connecting directly to the entire community.  Local music, local artists and community issues had always  the on air privilege before the national or international news. Radio Favela went even further, they hosted educational programs informing people about the cancer, their civil rights, women were informed about their rights against domestic violence, health, voting etc. in sum, Radio Favela gave their community more than the government education, police and media ever did. Because of all that, Radio Favela is a golden example of a community radio that no matter how many times it was shut down, destroyed, people suffering…it always came back, because it was so greatly needed by the favela’s community, people’s identity and their sense of belonging and gratefulness that someone did care about them and their existence.

Constant struggle, all the good the Radio Favela’s establishers  didn’t go unrecognized. After 20 years of day to day struggle Radio Favela got national and international attention. In February 1999 it was a cover story on Wall Street Journal, in 1998 it was the only Brazilian radio invited to the prestige Congress of Community Radios in Milan (Italy),  finally in 2001 it got a government permission, and the movie was shot in 2003 with the title Uma onda no ar ( A wave in the air).

Radio continues to exist today, it is more popular than ever, having nearly 4 million listeners, it has proved to itself and to the world that representing the community with no matter how modest means you may have as long as it is accessible to others, as long as context serves the listeners and as long as it connects and gives life to the community around it, a great changes can be made, the good will not go unrecognized.

 

Sources:

http://comdevbrasil.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/a-brief-story-of-radio-favela/

http://www.ipsnews.net/2000/05/communication-brazil-radio-favela-after-23-years-of-struggle/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8I4VRfbLxE

Alternative Media – Grassroots (case study)

Previous week Izmir Economy University department of Media and Communication organized a seminar (SMNP), where various guests both from Turkey and abroad with Mr. John Downing as an honored guest and main speaker, had a chance to introduce their work media related.

Many of the topics were relevant to the alternative media, and as MA students of media and communication we had a great chance to participate in the seminar. Personally I was impressed by many speakers and their work, such as Resistanbul, a group of activists who try to expose and fight against injustices happening to local as well as immigrant people in Istanbul.  Mister Erdinc Erdenc, an ex-mainstream media journalist who has abandoned the mainstream media and is now highly active journalist of the alternative media in Turkey, and many others.

I decided to take Marco Kuhne one of the producers of a graswurzel.tv, translated in English as grassroots.tv, as a study case of an alternative media in action. Marco Kuhne considers himself and his colleagues work as a video activists part of an alternative journalism. The reason being that they try to make video of different activist groups mostly in Germany and also in other countries throughout the Europe. They claim that mainstream media often shows the violent images of protesters and by doing that they are shown as hooligans, criminals in a way that police is trying to handle them and their behavior even by force if necessary. In this picture police becomes the hero and defender and stabilizer of national peace and security. The other approach of mainstream media towards the activist groups is that they completely or nearly completely ignore them; large peaceful demonstrations become just a side note in the newspapers or are not mentioned at all.

That is where Graswurzel or Grassroots enter in the scene. They try to show both sides of the activist movements and what activists have to say for themselves, they give them the space and chance to express their views and intentions. Grassroots follow the activists with cameras and try not to get involved in a sense by adding additional comments or notes to the videos, although sometimes it is necessary since activists are not always willing to give comments. Grassroots also don’t add any additional side effects to the videos, music and so forth, they try to be as close to reality as possible, in a way they try to be a clear medium through which the audience will get better understanding of the activists and their intentions. Mainstream media on the contrary is mostly all about commenting, censoring, even adding musical and video side effects to make the news more attractive lift the adrenaline in the audience and heavily representing as well as supporting one side of the argument strongly and therefore not creating the objectivity.

Since grassroots are not a mainstream media they don’t have a powerful, TV channel such as BBC News, CNN they have to rely on technology such as internet, and upload their videos on Web sites, YouTube, and ITunes etc. That doesn’t stop the audience, the number of views on YouTube for example show that many of the videos published by grassroots have been viewed by thousands of people. They also don’t work with sponsors and are not commercially supported, which of course limits the financial income, but on the other hand if they did so, they would no longer represent the alternative journalism which is mainly supported by donations and volunteer work.

Audience attending the SMNP seminar last week in Izmir was impressed and even humored by the video presented by Grassroots showing the rather unorthodox protest of hundreds of clowns against nuclear factory. Giving us the images and inspiring idea how protest can be a creative process, in which we are all invited, once we realize that we have a power to say no to environmental dangers, government/political decisions etc.

The small critique that I would add here would be the website of graswurzel.org, since the producers are all Germans and most of the protests are happening in Germany, the website as well is in a German language, I am sure that if English version on the website was available as well, they would attract wider, international audience hungry to see more.

Finally, it is important to have alternative media such as grassroots in every country, it is important to show both sides of the story and give the opportunity not just to the powerful, rich corporations and institutions but also to us – an ordinary people who make the majority of society, who question and criticize the government and environmental threatening decisions taken without the consensus and knowledge of majority of society. This kind of media and this videos may be seen as small attempts to break into society’s consciousness, but in a long run some of the videos and attempts may turn into historical events.

ALTERNATIVE MEDIA – HOW TO RECOGNIZE IT AND DEAL WITH IT

As an average consumer of media in general we tend to think that media consists largely of popular TV and radio channels, respectable newspapers, even songs and movies that are advertised and repeated numerous times either through tv advertising, ads and jumbo posters.

But are we really always limited to only these chosen few options (again chosen by whom and with what intention?)? Alternative media argues that this is not the case, that we average media consumers have a choice to look further and explore different spheres of media, namely alternative media. Now the questions arise: How to recognize that a certain product of media is and can be categorized as an ‘alternative media’? What are the criterias that classify certain media products as alternative media?  And is there really always a strict line that separates and files one media as a mainstream and the other as an alternative media? Lastly, once we have determined what the alternative media is, what can we expect from it; how can it add to our political, social, environmental etc. views and opinions?

Laclau and Mouffe argue that only one approach to define alternative media doesn’t give an overview of the components that construct the identity of alternative media, “ There is no single underlying principle fixing – and hence constituting- the whole field of differences (quoted in ) Understanding Alternative Media p. 5 Laclau and Mouffee 1985: 111). Therefore a new multi-theoretical approach model was proposed, classified in four sections: 1. Serving a community 2. An alternative to mainstream 3. Part of civil society 4. Rhizome.

If we take for example blogging, and try to test it against this four approaches to see if blogging can be categorized as an alternative media. Firstly, although blogging doesn’t acquire any specific geographical area, it exists in the virtual world, and can be said to be an online community, where people with similar interests, desires, similar mentalities join together without any restrictions. You can be poor, bald; a teacher with interests in fashion, a teenager with identification crisis… no one can prevent you to join the online community you are interested in. And as a participant in the media, even though it may be mico-media and your opinion may never be a cause of a great social or economic changes, as a participant of a certain blog, such as very popular Facebook or tweeter, you can express yourself, give a comment, entertain yourself and others and so in a way you shape the blog together with other participants.

Secondly, blogging can be against or in a conflict with mainstream media, since blogging is a small-scale and has usually a specific interest, more importantly it is not corrupted or bought by wealth advertising and economy companies, and therefore it is not responsible or restricted in its content. However, not all blogs match the above description; many are created by commercial owned companies and therefore serve the purpose of people with different interests.

Thirdly, blogging can be a part of civil society working against the hegemony, talking or reacting against the power elite. It certainly applies the bottom-up process, voices of people from lower classes can be raised, and an ordinary person can express his or her opinion, comment with other blogging members , contributing to the build up of civil society in general.

Lastly, in the fourth approach offered by Deleuz and Guattari with metaphor of rhizome, blogging is not hierarchical, everyone is equal, user becomes a producer. Therefore we can say it’s heterogeneous, there is no big center around which the production would be circling, on the contrary, every member of blogging can raise a new topic, question or open a discussion.

In conclusion, alternative media offers a choice to oppressed, suppressed, or simple to an ordinary people who would like to express themselves through media no matter how small the impact of their voices may be. However, I believe we should be cautious when defining what an alternative and what mainstream media is, or at least we should see them as processes rather than a complete, unchangeable. As stated in the Bailey (2008; p.18) “what is considered ‘alternative; at a certain point in time could be defined as mainstream at another point in time.”