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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Media Carta

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

NPH has always been challenged by Adbusters. It's a foundation-supported publication that asks the difficult questions about our mass media system that mainstream media outlets can't ask: who controls what gets on the air? What rights to citizens have in relation to broadcast media? What effect is our mass media environment having on our ability to think rationally and live responsibly? The Media Foundation, which publishes Adbusters, describes itself like this:

"We are a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters,
students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new
social activist movement of the information age. Our aim is to topple
existing power structures and forge a major shift in the way we will
live in the 21st century."

While NPH has always admired the publication and what it aims to do, we've also been a tad put off at times by the extremism of the thing. Of course, the foundation's aim is extreme--toppling existing power structures isn't a middle way, last time we checked.

Here's the next big thing from the Media Foundation: The Mental Environment Movement. The centerpiece of M.E. is the Media Carta, a treatise on media ownership, use, and governance that is straightforward and demanding. Also employed by M.E. is a series of television spots, all of which were rejected by the networks to which they were submitted (you can hear the rejections on the site).

Here is an example of somebody trying to do something with media advertising that media advertising simply can't do. All of the rejections say, in effect, "We can't run ads that tell people not to buy things and to turn off their televisions. We can't offend our sponsors." What Adbusters wants to do with these ads (raise public awareness and challenge corporate culture) is impossible in the present media environment. The internet will allow the ads to be seen by a different kind of audience, but only the kind of audience that already agrees, the kind of audience who goes looking for it.

These spots make no effort to disguise the fact that their values are at odds with the values of the larger culture, and that's precisely why they'll never see the broadcast light of day. But NPH respects what they're doing, moreso than we respect attempts to cozy up to the larger culture so as to whisper in its ear. That may "raise interest," but it lacks integrity.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 6:22 AM


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