Upon reading Ann Elizabeth Moore‘s awesome polemic, Unmarketable, I’m tempted to create a new blog category, “clusterfrak.” This would be necessary for posts in which I feel compelled to document nefarious marketing practices that have infiltrated the counterculture, but in doing so am forced to give free publicity to the offender. What is one to do?
Moore’s book is a passionate plea for the return to integrity. As a former Punk Planet writer and most excellent journalist, Moore brings in her passion as an activist who believes strongly in community spaces free of corporate marketing. She laments (as do I) the inevitable commercialization of community spaces that she holds dearly. She decries further the willingness of scenesters to sell out their peers for a buck, noting that in her own social experiment that she was able to get zine-makers to give away all their rights to her in exchange for free candy.
Moore articulates a sound criticism of culture jamming and Adbusters, which echoes my own rants on this blog. Essentially culture jamming ends up creating more mindshare and attention for the brands they intend to criticize. Even a book like Naomi Klein’s No Logo becomes a primer for ad agencies on how to market to the anti-marketers. Talk about a clusterfrak!
I think the one unarticulated irony that results from reading Moore’s book is the fact that punk has always depended on capitalism for its existence. Just as Satanists need Christianity to define themselves, punk depends on an industrialized system to justify itself. With postmodernism that all ends because you no longer have a clear target or something to bounce off of. That is is why I always refer to punk as the last rebellion of the Industrial Age. Note, I’m not saying the “last rebellion,” just one that can claim a distinct space outside of corporate control. Clearly that is no longer the case.
Speaking of which, what initially compelled the writing of this post was another blog post about Groove Armada offering its music for free on the Web, but the catch is that you have to register into a Bacardi social network site to get your “free” stuff (BTW Mog appears to also be advertising the Bacardi ruse– actually, it’s not a ruse at all, which is even more depressing). Unlike Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails who did offer their albums for fee on their own Websites, this is clearly a Bacardi marketing ploy that surely paid Groove Armada well.
At first I felt like ignoring this, not wanting to draw attention to Bacardi who, thanks to me, has a little more free advertising. But because I find it reprehensible that musicians remain blinded to the devil’s pact they make with alcohol companies I feel the need to speak up. Considering how much alcoholism and drug abuse has ravished the music scene, I just find it unconscionable that music magazines and artists continue to support the alcohol industry.
Which leads me to the conundrum of how to draw attention to this without giving Bacardi more air time than it deserves. I suppose the only thing I can do at this point is to warn you that that the Groove Armada track really sucks. OK, I actually didn’t even listen to it, but I’m offering this preventative measure as a last ditch effort to remind you that the first one is always free…
To paraphrase former Homeland Security tzar Tome Ridge, You’ve been warned!