Culture Jamming is arguably the most popular subgenre of
miximal forms and represents the edgier side of miximal expression, it is by far my personal creative center and the genre that helped inspire me to begin my miximal research. The
typically darker notion of culture jamming frequently entails the
transformation of recognizable and iconic artifacts of mainstream media into
new forms that yield ironic or satirical commentary about their source. The miximal artist typically brandalizes (vandalizes) the source material in an effort to transform or infuse the original iconic meme with new and typically subversive meanings.
Culture jamming is by far the most elusive and exotic of miximal genres. Like bolts of lightning they burst into existence and are frequently extinguished by corporate copyright trolls who intentionally confuse art with piracy. The purpose of culture jamming is to substantially change the original work in very defined ways. This is a decidedly different practice than redistributing—in whole or part—the untransformed copyrighted works of others in an effort to cheat the content owner of their entitled revenue. So the argument of piracy simply does not apply here, infringement however, is another story. Welcome to the gray area of the law, subject to random opinions as to the legal definition of de minimis-use and/or fair-use which may or may not apply. The one thing that is clear; a blanket slash and burn mentality on behalf of corporate lawyers is simply wrong—wrong legally, wrong culturally and wrong historically.
If Campbells soup had sued Andy Warhol out of existence, would it be a better world we all live in? Would Campbells Soup Company's net valuation or market share have somehow been larger? More profitable? Is it possible to imagine that the pop-art cultural phenomenon of Warhol's soup cans may, just may, have sold at least one additional can of soup? Perhaps even made the brand more enduring and more popular?
Culture jamming video, film, photos and other works popup into the web-sphere, only to be taken down due to perceived infringement, and magically popup again and again by the self appointed curators and preservationists who defend and preserve these classic works of art. The legal whack-a-mole serves no purpose. It is an unending epic battle of good and evil, the a circle of life, re-uploading and reviving these fine art forms only to have them relentlessly destroyed again and again by misguided and ill-informed media conglomerates.
Each time these works are taken down, the original metadata (descriptions, background, author, etc.) and other important information disappear or become altered, never to be properly entered into the cultural record. Some of the examples on this page have been uploaded and taken down many multiple times, so I give no warrantees on the viability of the links and in some cases the metadata and authorship identified here.
The easiest way to understand the genre is to experience some of the better examples such as the masterpiece known as Darth Vader Feels Blue by Billy Faithfull which was taken down after 5,517,894 views by Fox and FuturaNetworks, a fake copyright troll company who describe themselves as "promote[ing] innovation and responsible participation in digital culture." Except for the copyright trolling part apparently. The question remains, why is FuturaNetworks repeatedly at the center of copyright takedowns of works in which they have absolutely no ownership? Cash bounties? Misguided ideology? Assholism? Its similar to the abhorrent practice of Christians destroying classic greek sculptural nudes because they disapprove of wieners.
The Andy Griffith Show was re-visualized as a backdrop to the song Fuck the Pain Away by singer Peaches. This classic was originally created as an unofficial music video directed by Erik Huber. He posted it, then took it down, it was then reposted by 10Gertrude10 and then again in 2012 Erik finally reposted the video on his own channel. Hey Erik, the world needs to know "Who's the girl?" please post some additional metadata on your channel, thousands of fans are waiting for the back story of this total gem.
Great examples are found in almost every media franchise, but Star Trek is an exceptionally rich source of “brand violation.” Of the tens of thousands of clips from which to choose, a few jewels come to mind. The clip Star Trek + Nine Inch Nails = Closer asks, “What if they hadn’t made it to Vulcan in time?”—the reference being that of Spock experiencing pon farr (the Vulcan once-every-seven-years mating cycle) and, in this case, being late arriving at planet Vulcan. Spock finds himself sexually fixated with Captain Kirk and, well, you’ll just have to see it to know how it ends. The sound track is the Nine Inch Nails song Closer (“I want to fuck you like an animal”), with a careful reproduction of the original Closer video’s scratchy sepia-tone art direction. Variations of the Closer video are a rich vein of inspiration on YouTube, with hundreds of different interpretations, but this one is certainly in my short list of favorites. One of the striking aspects of this culture-jam delicacy is the obviously encyclopedic knowledge of quintessential moments from the StarTrek TV show selected by the clips creator that are mingled with very brief moments of soft-core male erotica.
Another Star Trek favorite is a 2003 clip created by UK-based starcrossedgirl, Star Trek on Drugs, re-uploaded as Star Trek's White Rabbit which, again, exhibited an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek moments fussily cut to the song White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane. Unfortunately, in 2009, YouTube removed the video due to a takedown notice. In a rare show of activism, YouTube members angrily emailed and blogged their outrage to the point at which YouTube relented and reposted the video but suppressed the audio track with the overlaid text, “NOTICE: This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by all copyright holders. The audio has been disabled,” revealing that Warner/Chappell Music, owner of the publishing rights for Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit had been the source of the complaint, rather than the Star Trek copyright holders. YouTube routinely adds dynamic “Buy this song” links to any music electronically detected on YouTube clips which acts a marketing referral for purchasing the songs, and indeed many other clips with songs owned by Warner/Chappell Music continue to survive on YouTube, apparently Warner/Chappell Music took offense in this case in that the song, about drugs, was used on a clip about—drugs. Go figure.
The creator of the video, starcrossedgirl, later reuploaded the video, now titled The Musicvid Formerly Known as White Rabbit, with a new audio track of Revolution Song, by Circ, as she states, “with irony in mind.” The music is applied using YouTube’s audio-swap feature, described by YouTube as “a service...where users can switch the audio track on a video they uploaded with professional tracks from cooperating artists and record labels.”
This is a trend you’ll be seeing as more and more of the big-media corporate lawyers begin to discover the miximal Internets above and beyond the obvious file-sharing services they have so expertly eliminated. *Wink*. I want to commend and personally thank Viacom, Paramount, the producers, stars, and the Star Trek copyright holders for recognizing the important miximal audience engagement advantages, brand longevity and brand valuation by supporting, or at least not blocking, the user-generated contributions of works based on their franchise.
In this same genre is the clip Captain Kirk Has Taken Too Much Fucking LSD by fallonyoursword. Unlike Star Trek on Drugs, the clip contains an original musical track using a “cutup” technique of audio samples taken from the original Star Trek dialog employed as the vocals. Although the clip has an original music track, it too has been taken down by YouTube but remains available at the time of this writing at fallonyoursword’s website as well as random reposts on YouTube.
I am specifically limiting examples that are informed by any Disney properties, although Disney brand violation is perhaps my very favorite target of culture jamming. I do not wish to be an agent of destruction and lead the Disney brand police to my stockpiles of coveted minced-mouse nuggets. But one video I must include is Naughty Little Mermaid (Little Mermaid Parody) by user Epicus - with the reworked theme song Part of Your World overdubbed with new lyrics: "Up where they bang, up where they bone, up where they stay up at night all alone. I've never cum, wish I could have, a vagina."
The term culture jamming can be applied to many forms of expression, from political activism to brand and media vandalism (my personal favorite) or even elemental forms of potty humor, but, in all cases, it attempts to comment on established institutions, including media icons, corporations, governments, and religions, in an attempt to reveal their subversive or negative dogma or to simply make fun of the conventional societal memes associated with the source subject matter. Culture jamming frequently plays off of corporate America’s attempted obfuscation of its biggest defects. Ever wondered who the guy is that has to answer the question "can you hear me now?" Check out "can you hear me now?"....."YES!!!!"
The current fad for corporate public relations is to “turn lemons into lemonade” by issuing paradoxical and oxymoronic statements, such as Morgan Stanley’s “one client at a time” (bankruptcies)? Or AT&T’s “more bars in more places” (we suck less)? Together with “Nationwide is on your side” (not!) and the ever-popular “FOX News, fair and balanced,” these and other forms of idiotic propaganda are the sweet and savory ingredients found in the culture-jam delicacies joyfully spreading across the collective corporate toast.
One ingenious and brilliant example of corporate jamming is Re-code, an arts installation and performance project by Conglomco Media, a collaborative team of tech-savvy artists, activists, musicians, and pranksters based in the US and UK who were sued into oblivion by Walmart, the Kellogs corporation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Trade Commission. Check out the Re-code.com Commercial it's a five minute video that illustrates RE-CODE.COM who stated their offering as "a free web service that allowed its customers to share product information and create barcodes that can be printed and used to re-code items in stores by placing new labels over existing UPC symbols to set a new price."
Culture jamming is a subgenre of its parent forms, but culture jamming also contains its own set of defined subgenres, known as subvertising, detournement, scratch video, and dubtitling, to name a few.
Also be sure to check out the tabTV playlist CultureJam, that has many of the above works as well as many more not found here.