Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Culture Jamming

In our final day of class with Dr. Paxton, we discussed and examined popular culture and culture jamming. We also found out a bit about modern monopolizing and that all the media we are exposed to are owned by not much more than six major corporate powers. 

These six corporations own almost all the media we see daily!
We watched a short film about "cool hunting" which is one way in which companies try to find the new trends. They look in streets of urban cities and look for certain types of teenagers. There are innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. The "cool hunters" look for the innovators and early adopters and have to act fast because once the new, cool thing gets to the majority, it becomes uncool. Because of this cycle, the true power is in the youth. Teenagers are both where they get their product ideas and who they sell them to.

Dr. Paxton used jeans as an example of a complicated and contradictory topic. Jeans have lasted decades and are still owned by almost everyone. They do not fit into the normal cycle of becoming uncool. Originally, jeans were made for manual labor. Those who actually do manual labor in the room were supposed to raise their hands... About five people do. Sometime later, jeans became a fashion statement. Different styles of jeans arose and people started to customize them. This is unique because it is one of the only times in the fashion world that people are being both individuals but also acting the same. The expensive jeans are usually made in the same sweatshop as cheap jeans and are rarely actually limited edition. The only difference is the label on them.

We learned about culture jamming next! Some famous examples of culture jammers who brought attention to controversial issues were the Bhopal disaster in India and the Yes Men. Dr. Paxton actually knew one of the Yes Men and was there to see one of their first culture jamming pranks where they replaced all the signs on a main street to "Malcolm X Street" to bring attention to the controversy of changing the name of another street to "Martin Luther King Jr." 

Hollaback PSA in the subway
We had two guest speakers, Rochelle Keyhan and Anna Kegler who work with a nonprofit called Hollaback which works to end street harassment. There are Hollabacks all over the world and they earn money through fundraising and grants. As a company, they try to include everyone who may get harassed in the streets in their advertisements. There are flawed depictions in the media, such as only men harassing females or all construction workers doing it. They told us about how sexual harassment is a form of oppression and showing power. Hollabacks is through a feminist lens and they never blame the victim in their campaigns. 

After lunch, we had a speaker named Filip Kovacevic. He had been sitting in on our feminist classes all week after coming all the way here from Montenegro to talk to us with his wife, Olga. First, we went over the two books we had read Monday and Tuesday, Crack Capitalism and An Essay on Liberation.He also told us about his life story, which I found interesting. After facing some trouble in Yugoslavia, he moved to Ohio at 17 and learned American culture and our language. He went to school in California and graduated with a concentration on political science as one of the top in his class. He found that in order to make the world a better place, he needed to first learn how the world works. He moved to Russia to teach classes and met his wife, Olga. He settled with her back in Montenegro, where they were marginalized because he might corrupt the youth so he had to start again from nothing! Now, he teaches at the department of tourism. We discussed a lot of complicated issues of Montenegro and some of the activism that goes on there as well. Overall, today was quite interesting as always!

1 comment:

  1. As your father wrote, jeans have been around since the California Gold Rush more than 160 years ago.

    Jeans have always been known as a part of the uniform for the working man and woman for the same reasons they were invented so many years ago: they’re comfortable and they wear well in w working environment.

    Starting in the 1950s they became a fashionable item to be worn by teenagers but they really didn’t become a fashion statement until the mid 1970’s when someone would throw a fancy label on them or stitch a fancy pattern on the back pockets and charge an arm and a leg for them in some fancy clothing store.

    That lasted for a few years before they became “less fashionable” but you can still find overpriced jeans at most clothing stores.

    There have been plenty of variations of the Levi Straus brand of jeans (Wrangler, for example) but most of these have been functional changes as opposed to fashion changes. The way they fit or whether they’re designed for a specific usage is why these jeans became popular. As an example, if you ask about anyone from Texas what brand they wear they’ll tell you Wrangler because that’s what’s worn by “cowboys” and the like.

    How many times have we seen where neckties have changed in width or length—all for the sake of fashion. It’s not that a necktie ever really wears out so in order to get us to buy new ties the industry has to change what we perceive as “cool” or fashionable. Today the tie is super fat and tomorrow it’s ultra thin.

    The same can be said about the width of the lapels on our suits or how many buttons they have.

    I’m sure the same can be said about women’s fashion, too.