April 8, 2013

Culture Jamming Billboard Bandits

Billboard liberation in action

The lies and excesses of advertising have been known for a long time.  Today, a small group of activists are fighting back in a direct and highly visible manner. Advertising's toxicity is  being revealed by culture jammers such as guerrilla artists, monkey wrenchers, and billboard liberators.

Mark Dery, who writes about the visual landscape and 'unpopular culture', describes the group of whacktivists that are hitting back:
"Billboard bandits, pirate TV and radio broadcasters, media hoaxers, and other vernacular media wrenchers who intrude on the intruders, investing ads, newscasts, and other media artifacts with subversive meanings are all culture-jammers."   

Move along, or not. Either way, nothing to buy here.
An increasing number of people are refusing to be lulled by advertising into perpetual discontent and the work/spend cycle that can lead to debt and destroyed lives. They are finding ways of filtering the noise and bother from their lives.

As Jack Napier, of the Billboard Liberation Front says, "Your brain is the ultimate editing device. Use it. The corporations, the government, the religions, your Mom, none of them can occupy and control your mind unless you invite them in…"

Monkey wrenchers put the environment (and people) before profits

We can all engage in a little culture jamming wherever we are. We can spread the word by being happiness hackers, people unafraid of deploying a healthy dose of subversive silliness in order to awaken the slumbering consumer class.

The Barbie Liberation Front (BLO) is a group of culture jammers that gained notoriety by changing the voice boxes of talking Barbie and GI Joe dolls. After performing 'surgery' on the dolls, the BLO returned them to store shelves in what they call reverse shoplifting, or shopgiving.

Teen Talk Barbies were programmed to say things like, "Vengeance is mine!" instead of "math class is tough".  The hacked GI Joe dolls proclaimed, "The beach is the place for summer", and "Let's go shopping". The BLO said they wanted to reveal the Stone-Age thinking behind the cultural stereotypes that the dolls represent.

Rocket scientist Barbie had no problem with numbers, but
getting pay equity was another thing...
The ultimate culture jam is being a guerrilla fighter for enough, for limits to desires, for radical contentment. It is monkey wrenching consumerism by refusing to participate in this environment-and-soul-destroying system. It is making that system obsolete by developing better, and more fun, ways of doing things.

Happy culture jamming! Be creative. Spread the message. Change the world.


  1. May I just repeat I LOVE THIS BLOG!?

    1. By all means - repeat it! Thank you.

  2. Anonymous4/09/2013

    I Agree!!!

  3. Anonymous3/27/2015

    Wonderful - love it!

    - Bida


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