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Culture Jam: How to Reverse America's Suicidal Consumer Binge--And Why We Must Paperback – November 7, 2000

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (November 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688178057
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688178055
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #446,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Featured in the PBS documentary Affluenza, Kalle Lasn, whose documentaries have been broadcast on PBS, CBC, and around the world, has won 15 international awards, and has been profiled in Time. As publisher of Adbusters magazine and founder of Media Foundation and Powershift Advertising Agency, Lasn has launched social marketing campaigns like Buy Nothing Day and TV Turnoff Week. He and his wife, Masako Tominaga, make their home in Vancouver, Canada.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

161 of 164 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
If you're looking at this book, chances are you've already come to the conclusion that there's something deeply, seriously wrong with modern American culture. Community is disrupted, economic principles favor the wealthy few over the working many, and government is unresponsive to our demands. The environment is in freefall, education is a joke, and you can't talk to your loved ones because they're too damn busy watching the idiot box. Now you want to do something about it.
This book consistently fails to tell you how.
For the greatest part of the book, public-interest advocate Kalle Lasn holds forth on the problems with our society, from the small (mindless TV addiction) to the medium-sized (allowing fashion companies to dictate our ideals of beauty) to the monumental (destructive, unsustainable economic practices). All this is useful, enlightening stuff to know, but let's be frank, we wanted to read this book because we already had an idea of these facts. Now we want some ideas of what to do about it.
The subtitle on the front cover promises to tell you "How to Reverse America's Suicidal Consumer Binge." Good luck finding that. Lasn is fond of patting himself on the back for his past efforts in that direction, but he doesn't really tell the reader what an individual, with an individual's budget of money and time, can really do. He says something at one point about things that can be done, but he speaks of really big options. Take media conglomerates to the World Court? If I had that kind of budget and know-how, I wouldn't be reading this book, now would I?
In giving us the detailed information on the flaws of society, we are having the gaps in our knowledge filled in, and that's handy.
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71 of 75 people found the following review helpful By James Schulze on December 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
I nearly jumped out of my chair while reading the first few pages of this book. No one had expressed the current state of the American mental environment or the break-down of personal and family relationships as well as Lasn had. There is nothing quite like the feeling of thinking you were isolated in your opinions, and then realize that someone else believes passionately in the same things. Lasn's descriptions of a media-saturated world in which family life has become a dull joke, where self-esteem is in a constant state of assault by advertisers, and our culture is being stolen are very, very powerful. Unfortunately, Lasn ultimately fails in his search for meaningful ways to deal with these issues.
For starters, I found myself cringing slightly when he used the phrase "Culture Jammers" to describe those who participate in anti-media action. For someone who wants to "uncool" America, that phrase is a little, well, *cool*. Even if I did paint over billboards, I'd never want to be labelled a "Jammer." Isn't labelling part of the problem?
Lasn also despises television and it's numbing parade of images and commercials, yet he combats this by...making more commercials? He speaks of "meme wars," but television memes are inherently hollow and disposable, and I fear the more Lasn tries to participate in the logo and opinion-in-less-than-30-seconds culture we've gotten ourselves into, the more anti-media activism will be reduced to, ironically, another media fad.
Ultimately what Lasn doesn't touch on enough are the personal solutions to these problems. Turning off the television and the CD walkman are a lot harder than I thought, but in the end it feels great to minimize those things in one's daily life.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Elissa Chasen on February 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
If, for some reason, I was able to create a law whereby everyone was required to read the book Culture Jam by Kalle Lasn, I strongly believe that the world would be a better place. In his book, Lasn points out to his readers all of the errors that our society has made in the process of creating our culture.
He touches many of our culture's problems (consumption, poor body image, environmental issues) and examines how the media has had its affect on each of them. The media has become the people. By this, I mean the people live through "brands, products, fashions, celebrities, entertainments." These things "are our culture now. [The people's] role is mostly to listen and watch-and then based on what we have heard and seen, to buy (p. xiii)." The media has turned us into lean mean buying machines-always striving for the newest and the coolest item on the market (which isn't even cool until the media says so).
People have separated themselves from their natural environment, and now live mostly through a consumptive, technology based world. In many ways this impacts the environment negatively, but mostly because "If the Earth felt less like something out there and more like an extension of our bodies, we'd care for it like kin (p. 6)." With all of the problems in our natural environment, people still pretend not to acknowledge or care about it.
The way the media works, Lasn explains, is first by creating fear; fear of not fitting in, not being cool, fear of traveling to foreign places (terrorism), and fear of corruption. "Fear breeds insecurity-and then consumer culture offers us a variety of ways to buy our way back to security (p. 17)." The fear implanted on the people guides their actions everyday. People have become "mediated self-constructions (p.
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