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Commodify Your Dissent: Salvos from The Baffler Paperback – October 17, 1997
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[Frank is] ... perhaps the most provocative young cultural critic of the moment, and certainly the most malcontent... Although he has been to graduate school ... both his thinking and his prose hark back to a time when the radical left was something more in America than conferences and seminars attended by Foucault-steeped professors. Frank has thrown off the mandarin jargon; for him it's about wealth and power, haves and have-nots, loud and simple--it's as if he were channeling Herbert Marcuse and C. Wright Mills and Thorstein Veblen through a boom box. -- The New York Times Book Review, Gerald Marzorati
Top Customer Reviews
The problem is that the left is remarkably short on solutions, or even the feeling that solutions are possible. _Commodify Your Dissent_ is a collection of essays whose premise is that the U.S. situation is hopeless:
* as many other authors have said, our main means of dissent - our writing, particularly irony - has been swallowed up by our enemies; it's now hip to be ironic, so advertisers adopt irony about advertising as their pose toward the world. So we can't use irony anymore.
* In the U.S., "identity" now means "what car I own and what clothes I wear." We define ourselves as consumers. Once again, we've moved so far in this direction that it's impossible to imagine a way out.
* The culture of business dominates American discourse. We look up to American business leaders as our new gods, and we assume that The Market will correct everything. Resisting The Market is futile, because it is infinitely more intelligent than any policymaker. Hence, leave the world to the Bill Gateses.
* Music is corporatized junk.
and so on, ad nauseum, for a couple hundred pages. After a while, we - or at least I - get numbed to it. Great, so the world has been utterly cheapened by corporations. Sure, corporations own the political process. And? What do I do about it?
_The Baffler_ has no suggestions, which in the end makes it a shrill mouthpiece of powerlessness. We've grown up on a steady diet of powerlessness. The left would assert that this is because the power structure *wants* us to think we're powerless; it helps them when few of us resist.Read more ›
This book is bound to anger a lot of readers because, it's gutsy, direct, and ruthless in its battering of the misused tropes and recycled clichés that enable legions of consumers, workers, and managers to feel like they're breaking the rules when in fact they are merely conforming to and reinforcing them. I know it's a hard fact to face, but buying a recycled pair of bell-bottoms is not an act of rebellion.
While it is certianly true that US citizens lead the world in having more of everything than they could possibly want or need and being *so* upset about it, the writers of The Baffler have a genuine gripe: that dissent has become one lifestyle choice amongst many, with a thriving support industry. The best sections of the book are the ads and market report promoting a dissent products and services company; all too credible.
This collection provides a very valuable insight into the Amrican psyche: I would heartily recommend it to any Europeans who were wondering just what is is that the Americans are complaining about all the time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Critiques of media and popular culture in the 90s are still as relevant as ever.Published 11 months ago by Pablo
Insightful commentary of our present culture. If you want a intelligent perspective on hidden motivations current in our systems then these are the people who you will hear no... Read morePublished on April 24, 2013 by William T. Brown
Geez, Tom, didja notice something? That corporations SELL stuff back to folks -- and they'll TAKE whatever they can USE, to do so?
Issit because ... Read more
I'm not sure if The Baffler is still being published regularly and, if not, too bad because it was a small magazine that regularly published thoughtful and provocative essays of... Read morePublished on June 13, 2006 by MontanaMountain
I actually agree with most of the analysis of culture, media, and business that Frank and his frat boys turn out but it doesn't change a thing as long as they are replicating the... Read morePublished on December 10, 2004 by Always Reading
A collection of some of the best writing from the magazine known for its scathing critiques of modern business and media practices. Read morePublished on August 30, 2004 by J. Bosiljevac
Here we go again. The media giants are evil. They have consolidated to the point where a handful now own all the major information venues. Read morePublished on January 9, 2003 by Dan Trachtman
If you don't get it, don't worry. Practically the whole of western popular rock 'n' roll "culture" is geared to your tastes. Read morePublished on October 24, 2001 by Nicholas R. Hunter
Fun stuff, if occasionally verging on a bit of a guilty pleasure. Presents a needed populist critique of bizcult that doesn't require a grad seminar in Foucalt (though nothing... Read morePublished on March 29, 2001 by M. Golosinski