Culture jamming is the act of transforming existing mass media in order to produce negative commentary about itself, by using the same medium’s communication method. (Wikipedia). It’s literally attacking by using the same weapon. It can take different forms, from airing TV “subvertisements”, performing cultural interventions to altering existing advertisements (adbusting), a phenomenon which we are witnessing in Lebanon in our roads, streets and highways.
Historically, this new type of activism was first defined by a group called Negativeland.
It was described, in 1995 by Mark Hosler as “a totally natural response to growing up in a mediated world.” For instance, the mission statement of “Guerilla Media”, a culture jamming group, is: “Using satire as our main political tool, we primarily create and widely distribute parodies of daily newspapers, and government and corporate promotional materials.”
This practice is now very common in the world and is considered as rightful. Some examples from the world for instance, advertisements against MCDonalds like using the same logo to lately the March 14’s “I love life” campaign and the opposition’s counter campaign, emulating the same original logo, although culture jamming targets usually commercialism and corporate image, which is not exactly the case here.
Do they have the right to do it, there is no law that dictates not doing it (and by the way, who cares about respecting the law and rights here in Lebanon). Was it appropriate, creative or well executed esthetically? I’m not going to plunge into this debate since everyone has it own taste, which could also be biased depending on the political affiliation of the person.
But the question is: Is the culture jamming that we are witnessing achieving the same effects as the original traditional marketing and helping them in spreading the same ideas and principles. If so, we, Lebanese, are the real winners since we all love life and strive to live it in dignity, diversity and without debts.
Anyway, I’ll just leave you with some examples from the world illustrating culture jamming.