Directed by Jill Sharpe • Documentary • 2001 • 52 minutes
A new breed of revolutionary stands poised along our information highways waging war on logos and symbols. They're 'Culture Jammers,' and their mission is to artfully reclaim our mental environment by causing a bit of brand damage to corporate mindshare. CULTUREJAM: HIJACKING COMMERCIAL CULTURE punctures the illusion of free speech in public spaces, yet gives us new hope at the same time. Scream at the TV, but don't touch that dial! Yet.
We follow three outlandish jammers: media tigress Carly Stasko, Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping, and Jack Napier with the Billboard Liberation Front. Armed with anti-ad stickers, custom neon, and stuffed mice on crosses, these jammers hijack, subvert and reclaim corporate media space.
Ultimately Culture Jammers wage a war of meaning. They use the tools of the medium to re-wire the message. Will Disney's Mickey represent a 'world of laughter' or will he become the anti-Christ representing 'sweatshop labor practices.' The verdict of public perception lies in a battle between billion dollar PR campaigns and guerilla tactics of rebel activists.
A relatively young movement, contemporary Culture Jammers first appeared in the early 1980s in San Francisco. But the court jesters of medieval Europe, and movements like Dada, Surrealism, and the Situationist International of Paris, as well as the recent range from punk to 'post,' all provide a philosophical lineage for this new brand of rabble-rousers.
Hard hitting, controversial, wacky and engaging, this film captures the drama of jammers in action and asks: Is Culture Jamming civil disobedience? Senseless vandalism? The only form of self-defense left?