Purpose: Adbusters advocates numerous social, political and environmental causes, simultaneously dissenting from just as many other pressures faced by citizens in a capitalist society. This publication illuminates what meek “truth” still survives in the resistant underground; it campaigns for “clean mental environment” in the developed world essentially run by corporate bullies. The title is far from subtle — Adbusters wants to eradicate mindless consumerism and advertisement pollution.
Audience: I can’t top what’s already been claimed on Adbusters.com: “Our readers are professors and students; activists and politicians; environmentalists and media professionals; corporate watch dogs and industry insiders; kids who love our slick ad parodies and parents who worry about their children logging too many hours a day in the electronic environment.”
Adbusters is infamous for its “culture jamming” network of admirers who cling to their liberalness and usually are involved in some sort of activism. At its roots Adbusters is about examining the relationship between media and its effect on the mental world.
Kudos: I’ve heard critics say that Adbusters relies too heavily on style to make up for mediocre content, which I think is a copout complaint. The art isn’t dominant, it matches the content — provocative and revealing of what goes largely unnoticed because of societal norms. The big buck to boot here is the fact that Adbusters reaches across oceans and mountains to reach readers and contributors; the result is an international blog-like pool of writers, designers and photojournalists that provide what no corporate product ever could. The substance is natural, postmodern in its fragmentation and design inconsistency and blends the rhetoric techniques logos, mythos and ethos.
Draw Backs: There is the possibility that Adbusters oversteps its chutzpah. I wouldn’t go as far to call it arrogant, but it’s attempting to further an anti-consumerist ethic that it fundamentally belittles by being a successful, top-selling magazine with advertisement treatments of its own. In all its ironic glory, Adbusters’ genuine appeal just so happens to fit into what the “mainstream” seems to be: trying really, really hard not to be like everything else. Less importantly, Adbusters is released quarterly. To me, this means a long wait between new editions and the issues covered within are general trends versus time-oriented events.
Bottom Line: “Culture jamming” is a cool concept too complex to be elaborated in the limited space of a few lines. I recommend this magazine very highly — thoroughly pleasing and more substance in one edition than most of my classes. I’m a happy Adbusters subscriber.
Staff writer Griffin Faust can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.