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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Freedom in the 21st Century - why and how
Everything this book covers you probably know already, but reading it here, presented as it is, will crystallize it rock solid. With anger and conviction, Kalle Lasn shows how corporations, orginally created by people to serve them, have turned the tables and enslaved us. After reading No Logo, Captive State, Amusing ourselves to death, Fast Food Nation, all very good...
Published on 22 Aug 2001 by Graham King

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars simplistic
I'm afraid I must agree with some of the other reviewers here. I read Adbusters, Lasn's magazine, for quite a while and then gave up. I think it is increasingly masking its lack of focus under the guise of "radical design" - eg lots of fragments posted about the page puncturing articles and stories. Indeed, the author has a book on this subject out now and it is all...
Published on 24 Nov 2006 by Mr. M. J. Bowen


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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Freedom in the 21st Century - why and how, 22 Aug 2001
By 
Graham King (Vancouver, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Culture Jam: How to Reverse America's Suicidal Consumer Binge - and Why We Must (Paperback)
Everything this book covers you probably know already, but reading it here, presented as it is, will crystallize it rock solid. With anger and conviction, Kalle Lasn shows how corporations, orginally created by people to serve them, have turned the tables and enslaved us. After reading No Logo, Captive State, Amusing ourselves to death, Fast Food Nation, all very good books in their own right, Culture Jam takes the central issues and shows exactly what you can, nay MUST, do about them. Part philosophy, part eco-economics, part activism manual, this is an inspiring book.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extreme but life-changing, 24 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Culture Jam: How to Reverse America's Suicidal Consumer Binge - and Why We Must (Paperback)
So, conservative reactionaries may experience a gut-instinct reaction to hate this book. Lasn certainly puts his point forcefully, and while his conviction is apparent, his examples often seem unreasonable.
But Culture Jam is one of a selection of recent books ("No Logo", "Faster", "Captive State") to examine the effect corporate capitalism is having on us all as human beings and come away with the conclusion that all is not well.
And it's a warning well worth heeding, as violence and depression continue to dog our society despite the outward appearances of productivity and profit that corporations promote.
Lasn argues that concerned individuals should take a two-pronged "pincer" approach, attacking issues from the top using the media and using grassroots "meme warfare" to foster new attitudes amongst the population.
If his vitriol and self-assuredness manages to convince other readers as it has me, Kalle Lasn could find himself the leader of an internationally-renowned army of culture jammers. A hopeful thought.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars simplistic, 24 Nov 2006
By 
Mr. M. J. Bowen "middle name : NR" (some NOT RANDOM room) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Culture Jam: How to Reverse America's Suicidal Consumer Binge - and Why We Must (Paperback)
I'm afraid I must agree with some of the other reviewers here. I read Adbusters, Lasn's magazine, for quite a while and then gave up. I think it is increasingly masking its lack of focus under the guise of "radical design" - eg lots of fragments posted about the page puncturing articles and stories. Indeed, the author has a book on this subject out now and it is all radical anarchy symbols and scrwaled "ask yourself this!!" questions.

This book is meant to be his founding philosophy laid bare. He alludes to all the right people (Guy Debord, Marx) but in such an off hand way you wonder how deeply he has engaged with these guys. You come to think, rather, that Lasn would like elevate himself up to thier stature without the kind of well-developed world-view that has made their works endure over time. This is evinced by his status as a 'culture-jam' (urgh) leader and the slew of reproduced "subvertisements" which I think are exercises in stating the obvious - not work which truly "detourn" perception. A bit like Banksy really. This is not an insignificant point - if his cause is

to stimulate free thinking in others then his presence as 'Mr Adbusters' should be less stamped everywhere. If he really was worthy of idolisation it would be through work which really embodied the kind of ideas he describes. As it is he communicates them second hand.

However - this would be a good read for a teenager who has been awakened by No Logo or something of the same. It would introduce them to the situationists - which would be a good thing at any age! I just wonder if a a big bold book with cliched iconography (look! a man with a barcode on his neck!)is really the kind of thing which can be considered as a challenging book and not just a rent-a-side rant.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Divisive yet insightful........., 9 May 2004
By 
R Jess "Raymond Jess" (Limerick, Ireland.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Culture Jam: How to Reverse America's Suicidal Consumer Binge - and Why We Must (Paperback)
Kalle Lasn's 'Culture Jam' is indeed a call to arms for a 21st century generation that seems more distracted than ever by the pervasive power of mindless consumption. Adbusters magazine has been at the forefront of consumer critique, developing a manifesto that obviously strikes a chord with a growing readership, given its current circulation of over 120,000.

In the opening introduction Lasn makes some rather remarkable statements: "For us feminism has run out of steam" p.xii; he then goes on to state "The old political battles......- black versus white, Left versus Right, male versus female - will fade into the background" p.xvi. This is an ignorantly optimistic conjecture in a world where aparthied still existed in Africa's largest economy less than a generation ago, a world where the vast majority of women are denied the same political rights as men and in the U.S. where they don't even have a universal healthcare system. Lasn seems to suffer from the same illusions as his heros the situationists, that somehow, in the West at least, basic human needs have all been satisfied i.e. freedom from poverty, hunger and homelessness. This may not be a wild idea in Canada where Lasn and Adbusters are based. Consistently touted by the U.N. as the best country in the world in which to live, Canada's reputation for higher standards of living is in part due to the pioneering campaigns of noted left-wingers like Tommy Douglas. Douglas, a former premier of Saskatchewan brought in a cheap and affordable healthcare system for his province in the 1960's, which soon spread throughout the rest of Canada thereafter.

It is true to say that much of the time identity politics operates in a postmodern culture obsessed with diversity in and of itself, rather than any notion of universal revolution. A position which plays into the hands of largely right-wing libertarians who see greater diversity as an opportunity to develop new markets. But to believe that gender, race and class are no longer issues that affect the first world gives those on the right too much comfort.

Other dubious assertions include Lasn's belief that daily exposure to media violence shapes the way we feel about crime and punishment "even though I can't prove it with hard facts" p.18

On the more postive side of the book, there's an interesting piece on how we in the West are increasingly finding it more difficult to appreciate our immediate surroundings without framing it with a camera viewfinder. Lasn also uses the example of a poet who read his poems at parties and no one listened to him, but when he played recordings of himself, everyone listened (shades of David Cronenberg's 1982 film 'Videodrome').

Where Lasn is at his strongest is in his study of the development of corporate power under American law. The 1886 ruling by the Supreme Court in the U.S. which granted the private corporation the rights of a 'natural person' under the U.S. Constitution, has had profound effects on American political and economic culture since then. Unlike most individuals, corporations have huge financial resources and as a consequence have a much greater say in the running of the economy, greater stamina in the courts and greater access to the media (which they probably own anyway) than any individual could hope to have. Globalization is the effective spread of this corporate disease throughout the rest of the world.

Another important area that Lasn tackles is how we measure prosperity. Classical economists seem to believe that there is no shortage to the Earth's natural resources and even if we did deplete all of them we should still be able to develop the technology to provide for everyone on the planet. The problem with classical economics is that it is not a science i.e. it is not concerned with an understanding of nature, but simply with an understanding of models. The best example of which is the concept of GDP, which increases everytime money is put into the economy for whatever reason; war, illness, cleaning up environmental damage and so on. A better way of measuring prosperity would be the ISEW (Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare) which takes into account factors such as pollution, depletion of nonrenewable resources and industrial related health costs.

Despite his attacks on the traditional Left, Lasn seems perfectly happy to hold true to explicitly Marxist sentiments such as living not as an object of history but as a subject: "That's about as good a working definition of the culture jammers ethos as you'll ever hope to find" p.100. Lasn also makes a welcome attack on the Slacker generation whose disdain for any kind of earnestness in politics has become the apathetic norm. We should use our irreverance pointedly but a surfeit of irony contributes to social corrosion and a general malaise in putting the effort in.

It is in the media world where corporate power has its most obvious influence, especially in the U.S. It's almost impossible to find objective news on American commercial T.V. The only reason that CNN runs Adbusters' commercials for Buy Nothing Day is that Ted Turner likes to think of himself as a bit of a liberal in comparison to his arch-nemesis Rupert Murdoch. Lasn's difficulty in getting airtime elsewhere for his Adbustes' commercials shows an open ideological bias at work within media conglomerates, whose primary function is not to provide news but to sell advertising space.

Lasn's tract is useful in highlighting the increasing hegemony of corporate power in America. Although his lefty-bashing has less impact for many of us in Europe where left-wing governments can still initiate large and meaningful changes. However, American foreign policy influences the whole world and 'Culture Jam' makes us more aware of the forces that shape it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All mouth, less meaning, 5 Jun 2008
Uncooling. Media trance. Demarketing. In his eagerness to create catchy new words and phrases, Lasn seems remarkably similar to the advertisers he so insistently puts down in 'Culture Jam', one of the weaker of the recent crop of anti-corporate, anti-capitalist books. What he's saying is fundamentally worthwhile, but his keenness in using the techniques of the 'enemy' to try and quash it serves more to emphasise the strength of the advertising industry than to offer a truly viable method of protest.

The book claims to be a manifesto, and certainly has to be read as such - one hopes for intelligence and ranting from books like this, but Lasn provides much more of the latter than the former. There are good points in this book, although not unique ones, but they are smothered by hundreds of anecdotes which distract from the actual content. Lasn may discuss the decreased concentration spans of MTV-addicted youth, but he writes for such an audience. This book lacks the sustained, detailed argument that makes Georges Monbiot or Naomi Klein worth reading, and as such fails to achieve very much at all.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening, 15 Sep 2003
This review is from: Culture Jam: How to Reverse America's Suicidal Consumer Binge - and Why We Must (Paperback)
In short, I found this book to be very enlightening, written a clear and accessible (but still powerful) style, and, most importantly, that it makes the reader question what he/she absorbs through culture and the media. I think it is also one of a number of titles I've read recently that helped me to realise that the forces and organisations that govern the lives of the world's population care only for and are controlled primarily by money, and that humanity will go off the rails if something doesn't change soon.
It's been a while since I've read it but I'll try to synopsise as best I can. Lasn, the founder of the Adbusters organisation in the states (the centre of a global network of 'media activists' that aims to weaken the tremendous societal control exerted upon us by the media) essentailly argues that advertising and consumer culture are destroying America and the world; that (to paraphrase Bill Hicks) the media is a largely a tool used by the government to keep the people stupid or unaware; and that the majority of multinational corporations and big business, interested only in their profit margins, wield far too much power in our lives and in our governments.
There is much more in the book that I haven't commented on here (I found the discussions of memes in the media and the fundamental problems of the current neo-classical economic system particularly interesting), and Lasn goes on to suggest that we need to pick up on the momentum of recent movements such as equal rights for women and the anti-smoking lobby, and suggests ways in which we could use the media to weaken the grip of our controllers.
I would recommend this book to anyone. Even if the opinions I've stated above are completely innacurate, I'm confident the book should at least give you food for thought.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All mouth, precious little trouser, 30 Jun 2003
This review is from: Culture Jam: How to Reverse America's Suicidal Consumer Binge - and Why We Must (Paperback)
Uncooling. Media trance. Demarketing. In his eagerness to create catchy new words and phrases, Lasn seems remarkably similar to the advertisers he so insistently puts down in 'Culture Jam', one of the weaker of the recent crop of anti-corporate, anti-capitalist books. What he's saying is fundamentally worthwhile, but his keenness in using the techniques of the 'enemy' to try and quash it serves more to emphasise the strength of the advertising industry than to offer a truly viable method of protest.
The book claims to be a manifesto, and certainly has to be read as such - one hopes for intelligence and ranting from books like this, but Lasn provides much more of the latter than the former. There are good points in this book, although not unique ones, but they are smothered by hundreds of anecdotes which distract from the actual content. Lasn may discuss the decreased concentration spans of MTV-addicted youth, but he writes for such an audience. This book lacks the sustained, detailed argument that makes Georges Monbiot or Naomi Klein worth reading, and as such fails to achieve very much at all.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars revolution, 12 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Culture Jam: How to Reverse America's Suicidal Consumer Binge - and Why We Must (Paperback)
anyone with a sense that all is going wrong in the world, that society and governments are increasingly the puppets of corporations should read this book.
it will, rightly, make you question how you live your life.
the more people who read this, the less likely it is that the corporations will hold onto their undeserved strength for much longer.
culture jammers: unite and fight!
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