Unfortunately, a lot has changed since the Clinton years. We've had disastrous invasions of two Muslim countries; dissent is suddenly un-American; Al-Jazeera and Fox News have both entered our collective conscience; American children face an obesity epidemic like the world has never seen; Clear Channel's monopoly has expanded exponentially with its connections to the Bush administration; and millions of Americans still think it's cool to drive a Hummer. And that's just off the top of my head.
Enter Adbusters' "The Big Ideas 2005" issue, which articulately attacks all these social ills and the propagandists who downplay their destruction. In fact, it's too bad that the magazine is still strapped with the same name, because if this were a new magazine just hitting the streets, it would be bigger than McSweeneys.net and The Believer put together.
Yes, they still have the spoofy anti-mercials, but they are kept at a minimum and serve as punctuation for the intelligent cynicism that comprises their product. The aggressive marketing to today's youth, McLuhan-esque investigations into blog culture, media monopolies, and attacks on unrestrained consumption are typical topics among the issue's dozens of short essays. It turns out that Adbusters has evolved into an all-purpose, well-designed handbook for the revolution that should have started years ago.
With 51% of Americans and nearly 100% of American policy marching on despite our votes and our easily contained protests, nonfiction has become vital and energetic once again (think Fahrenheit 9/11 and Fast Food Nation). With "The Big Ideas" issue, Adbusters throws its hat into the ring as a periodical aiming to change the mind of a few who might later influence many.
Next week: We implore Thomas Frank to resurrect The Baffler.