November 26, 2006

Culture Jam

Lets start jamming.

A few years ago the notion of "jamming" culture arose, from Kalle Lasn's book Culture Jam: How to Reverse America's Suicidal Consumer Binge and Why We Must. An alternate title for this book is Culture Jam: The Uncooling of America.

This post was inspired by the end of my observance of "Buy Nothing Day", which is now two days observed on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. Observing this was easy for me, it is a time when the shops are crowded and the traffic is unbearable. I loathe shopping, simply because the American tradition of shopping is so grotesque. If I lived in Europe, I would be able to meander the streets and shops of some small city center, stopping to sip coffee at a quaint cafe, enjoying the personal treatment from the shops, perhaps having a meal at a locally owned restaurant. In that environment I would get out and do more shopping than I do now, but I would still avoid the crowded times. In the U.S, shopping is such a bland, ugly, unethical task, it's easy for me "voluntarily" avoid that distraction.

"Jamming" differs from voluntary simplicity movements in consciously opposing modern popular culture, essentially created by corporations to stoke consumption -- of corporate logo apparel, unhealthy food and habits, exploitative entertainment, competitive sports, etc. The idea is that by withdrawing from consumption and the use of what drives the moneyed economy of profit one could pursue an authentic life of simplicity and frugality. Simplicity is not merely a subjective phenomenon or a matter of personal taste. The premise is that the individual succeeds best (and the world benefits) when conscious of the sources of the products he or she consumes.

Being conscious of simplicity and the degree of change it brings in the world as well as to the individual is a useful model for solitaries like myself, who already have a psychological disposition for what young people call "jamming."

7 comments:

BSB said...

I've been to Europe and they also have those HUGE shopping malls. In the big places of course.

I really didn't like the people in Paris. Here in Qu├ębec, we don't speak the same type of French and they feel superiour to us. Well anyways The Parisien's feel superiour to many.

I wanted to go in a little shop and there was an elderly woman opening her shop.. so I ask "What time do the shops open" she replies "It depends on the shop" So I say "Oh really, like that everyone can open their shops when they like?" and she says "Why don't you go back to Canada and they'll tell you what time we open our shops" ??? I looked over at my aunt and I couldn't believe it...

I think that the desease "consumerism" has hit every developped country... it's unfortunate.

Every year at school we have a day that we ask students NOT to buy anything for the vending machines. As educators it's our job to bring this consciouness to our youth...

Have a great day Nick.. xoxoxox

niCk (Mem Beth) said...

I have been to Germany, Austria and England, and I remeber those place having the big shopping malls also. But they also had the downtown shopping areas that I liked. In the U.S. the downtown areas are blighted and crime-filled becuase everyone gave up that type of shopping in favor of malls.

And I do remember a lot of people having attitudes against Americans, but I still preferred that type environment.

Catch you later, hugs

BBC said...

Living in a small town, even our Walmart is small.

I did buy the camera but it was a one day only sale. But most days are no buy days for me so I figure I'm ahead of the game. Hugs.

pissed off patricia said...

I guess I participated in the protest without even knowing about it. We try to buy things that will be around a long long time or things that can be recycled. At least that makes us not feel so guilty.

azgoddess said...

i refuse to shop on black friday...boycott it every year it's existed....

Minou in France said...

bsb - even the French hate Parisians, I worked in Paris for some years, and my colleagues, all French, all agreed that the Parisians are a race apart!!! They can be extremely rude and ignorant. When driving we try to avoid their cars like the plague, identifiable by their registration numbers of 75, 92, 95 etc, because they have so little respect for others on the road!!

nick - I live in a small town in France and we have markets and small shopping streets where you can amble and take a coffee or something stronger - it is a nicer experience of shopping in my view, I hate shopping normally. And dogs are adored, not treated as aliens, so you can often take them into some shops, sometimes I've been invited to take my dogs in, although I don't normally like to take them into a food shop.

Supermarkets and shopping malls have taken the life out of towns generally speaking, it's a shame. And you hit the point - it's all done unconsciously (I'm not sure of the spelling!), no-one really notices what's happening until it is too late.

jessica said...

I think the term "Jamming" is a bit more active than you described. Though I do agree about the lack of service and personality from big supermarkets and shopping Malls. I personally would much rather shop in a small store where the clerk smiles and at least acknowledges my presence. I just watched this video about Culture Jamming, and it is more of a way of taking what is out there in the mass media and altering it in a way that you're taking a stand against it. If you're interested in the topic, check it out: http://travelistic.com/video/show/2369

It might make an interesting blog topic!