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Editorial    by Royce Carlson

February 20, 2000

Kill Your Television!

The average American child sees 20,000 thirty-second commercials per year on television. Each of these commercials promotes the purchasing of commodities and the shows themselves do that, too. Television is being used by big corporations as a tool to promote a lifestyle of consumption. It is being used as a colonization tool in third world countries and it is the most important tool for the dissemination of propaganda. We are constantly bombarded by ads.

Television isnít the only culprit. Billboards, radio, telemarketing, junk mail, door-to-door salesmen, e-mail, web-site banner ads all want our attention. It all seems to be about the commodification of culture. Whatever begins to become popular is nearly immediately seized by the big corporations, re-packaged, and sold back to us in diluted form. Writer Charles Bukowski wrote, "America is not a free country Ė everything is bought and sold and owned."

There is a counter-cultural backlash to this overload of advertising. Itís called culture jamming. Adbusters is one of the better known culture jamming magazines consisting of advertising spoofs and "un-commercials" that bring to our attention the hold that media like TV have on us. In the fight against corporate dis-information some groups are fighting fire with fire by putting out their own anti-corporate advertising and literature. Hoaxers, hackers, and pranksters are working to subvert the corporate communications machine.

There are organizations out there like Junkbusters that can help you stop unwanted junk mail and telemarketing and there is one site that provides convincing arguments on why to lie on marketing surveys. All can be used as tools against the constant mental bombardment of advertising.

If you are a little concerned about the fact that American children spend almost twice as much time watching TV as they spend in school then you might want to visit Zenzibarís Culture Jamming category. The Guerrilla Art category also has some culture jamming sites. And why not turn off your TV for a week? Read a book, take a walk, create art, talk with your family and friends. You can free yourself from this technological tyrant and free your mind.

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