Culture Jamming

Culture jamming, vidding, remixing and adbusting is a creative, eye-opening and fun way to look at and bring out certain aspects and issues within our society, as reflected through our culture. Through cultivation, we are so used to seeing pop-culture like TV shows, movies, ads etc portray women in sexist ways; focusing on their beauty and appearances, sexualizing women and girls, showing them as helpless or vulnerable needing a man to rescue them and so on.. We see this so often that it becomes our frame of reference; we take these images and stories for granted; we think this is the norm. But, it is just the effect of being raised and being exposed to patriarchy, sexism, misogyny and androcentrism all life. Culture jamming tries to expose this. It tries to change the way we look at “ordinary” things in our culture, like TV-shows, movies and ads, to tell a new story.

By altering something familiar and popular to highlight and bring out different messages than the intended, culture jamming becomes a very effective tool to make people see the actual undertones and underlying messages of our culture, and thus, our society. Especially with the new media, using remixing and vidding to transform and alter material available online (so pretty much anything) and then spreading these new creations on social media platforms, is very affective in getting at tenting and gaining a wide audience, which is the key. I would definitely consider culture jamming a form of media literacy, since it deals with critically examining all kinds of media and the messages it sends out to the audiences, this is just a creative and fun way to do it, and I feel like more people would be susceptible to culture jamming than let’s say a more critical, analytical, educational (“boring”) approach, like an article, writing about the exact same underlying tones and messages in the altered videos. These remixed and altered videos and pictures of ad-busting are very likeable and sharable – it’s pop-culture! – but still gets the message through nonetheless, and I think that to reach out to people, especially the younger ones like myself and people in my generation, using creative ways like this would be the best way to catch our attention.

For example, one of my favorite remixed videos was, to no-ones surprise, the Twilight/Buffy remix. I have seen it around the web before, I just had no idea there was a word (remixing) and a context (culture jamming) behind it. I might be biased in this case, (I was never a fan of Twilight, not the book series nor the films, but I’m still a huge fan of Buffy!) but I have many friends who like(d) the Twilight-series. Now, I could try and have an argument with them, explaining why I never liked sparkly Edward and why I think their whole relationship was not romantic or interesting at all, especially when there are so many other good shows/films/books out there about the same subject, and so on, but I’m sure not many of them would give a crap or even listen to me. However, if I were to show them this remixed video, I think I would get a different response – and just to be sure, I made an experiment and showed this to my roommate who really liked Twilight, and yes, now she actually got a bit of my point! Success!

Another video that I liked, one that I hadn’t seen before, was “If Men Menstruated”. At first I just thought it was funny, but then, just like Titanic and the iceberg, it hit me! If men actually menstruated, these little scenarios depicted in the video could totally be true! Living in our patriarchal society, where men are valued more and where men’s interest is at the center, why couldn’t something like this be true? If it affects men, it’s important and therefor worth noting and celebrated. If it concerns men, it’s okay to talk about it, spend money on it, care about it and take it seriously. I understand this video might be an exaggeration, but still, it really opened up my eyes wide to really see what androcentrism really implicates…

If I had time, I would love to do some sort of remix with all the popular songs that are constantly played on the radio and in clubs, and combine it with images, clips or just maybe even writing out the lyrics completely.. By really concentrating all the lyrics in one place, one after another, I think you would really be able to see how highly sexist they are… Even though words like “shit” or “bitch” are taken out from the lyrics to make them kid-friendly, what about songs that objectify women and women’s bodies for example? I’m planning on doing something similar but simpler on this issue for one of my zine-pages btw…

(Originally posted on 2014/10/28 for Melanie Klein’s class blog “Women and Popular Culture”)

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