Addicted to novelty since 2001

Why the Culture Can’t Be Jammed

This morning, I heard a fascinating CBC interview with the authors of The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can’t Be Jammed. They had some pretty fascinating and contrarian ideas about consumer culture:

Guaranteed to incense both the followers of Naomi Klein’s No Logo, as well as their right-wing counterparts, The Rebel Sell argues that decades of countercultural rebellion have not only been unhelpful, but counterproductive. Heath and Potter offer a startling blend of pop culture and political manifesto as they consider the birth of the rebel consumer, the enforcement of norms within the counterculture, the need to untangle questions of social justice from the countercultural critique, and what it will really take to turn consumers into citizens.

What sucked me in was when one of the authors said that “Martha Stewart is an anti-materialist”, because she encouraged her audience to make things from scratch. They went on to highlight how both Adbusters and Mother Jones magazines are now selling shoes. As they put it, “anti-consumerism is a great sales model”. Here’s an article from This Magazine on the book.

5 Responses to “Why the Culture Can’t Be Jammed”

  1. Chris

    Thanks for the pointer to a very thought-provoking article.

  2. julie

    Trying not to laugh too hard at the Martha comment. I’m sorry but Martha is the queen of consumerism – even if she tries to use a raffia bow on the sales pitch. Cynisism talking, perhaps.

    And those adbuster sneaker’s? Funny how they would use on of Vancouvers “counter-culture” icons to design them – seems ironic to me.

    Thanks for the link to the article – as a “counter-culture rebel” (tongue firmly in cheek as I say that) I was nodding my head in agreement, though I think they lost me about the time they went on about SUV’s – I don’t think taxing advertising is going to stop consumerism (for instance) culture spreads by word of mouth. How do you tax that?

  3. Mark

    Thanks – this is a great link. In case you haven’t read it yet, the Q&A on the authors’ site is very interesting reading.

  4. Declan

    Yeah, that was a great article. It seems like they’ve really done thier homework.

    Removing the tax deductibility of advertising is a great idea, and it will reduce the amount of advertising (if something costs more, less is made), and less advertising will lead to less consumption of advertised goods (if not, this would imply that all advertising dollars are entirely wasted).

    In order to move past consumerism, we really need to ban all push advertising (spam, junk mail, telemarketing etc.) and then ban all content linked advertising (magazine, web, tv, etc.) but that’s probably way too radical for the present consumer culture, so removing tax deductibility of advertising would be a good start in the right direction.

    Thanks for the tip on the Q&A Mark, it was interesting as well.

  5. Andrea

    Did anyone read Martha’s letter to the judge? She suggests that she helps people from all economic backgrounds enjoy a better life and more rewarding lifestyle. From what I’ve seen, the Martha movement requires a high economic standing. To make the crafts, foods, and have dinner parties, you need a good disposable income. If you have lots of money to do that, you still need to have the time to do it. So, for the most part, you need to be a stay-at-home spouse with an affluent spouse, a high income earner who can afford to outsource to meet the Martha standard, or an absolutely stressed middle income earner who stays up all night making cookies, costumes, and cuisines. How has this freed the average North American family? It’s the super mom syndrome all over again.

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