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Commodify Your Dissent: Salvos from The Baffler (1997)
by Thomas Frank (Editor), Thomas Frank (Introduction), Matt Weiland (Editor), Matt Weiland (Introduction)
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393316734, Paperback)In this thought-provoking collection of essays, editor Thomas Frank and other contributors to the contrarian journal the Baffler examine the unprecedented ascendancy of business as the dominating force in American life. If the closest historical parallel is with the Gilded Age and its all-powerful robber barons, Frank and his ilk clearly see themselves as the muckrakers out to expose the absurdities and abuses of big business. Today, however, advertising has come to permeate every aspect of our society, and corporations are in the business of manufacturing culture--what Frank calls the "Culture Trust." These essays analyze the ways in which this Culture Trust has co-opted the power of dissent by appropriating the language and symbolism of nonconformist youth culture, from hippie slang to grunge fashion; in other words, when the media markets rebellion, it becomes just another consumer choice. As evidence, the essayists explore the image of consumer as rebel pioneered by publications such as Details and Wired, as well as the preeminence of "revolutionary" business gurus such as Tom Peters. The result is a highly original book, a satirical and savage indictment of '90s consumerist culture.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:05 -0400)
In the "old" Gilded Age, the barons of business accumulated vast wealth and influence from their railroads, steel mills, and banks. But today it is culture that stands at the heart of the American enterprise, mass entertainment the economic dynamo that brings the public into the consuming fold and consolidates the power of business over the American mind. For a decade The Baffler has been the invigorating voice of dissent against these developments, in the grand tradition of the muckrakers and The American Mercury. This collection gathers the best of its writing to explore such peculiar developments as the birth of the rebel hero as consumer in the pages of Wired and Details; the ever-accelerating race to market youth culture; the rise of new business gurus like Tom Peters and the fad for Hobbesian corporate "reengineering"; and the encroachment of advertising and commercial enterprise into every last nook and cranny of American life. With its liberating attitude and cant-free intelligence, this book is a powerful polemic against the designs of the culture business on us all.
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