Readers interested in the effect of the media environment on our lives will appreciate OurSpace: Resisting the Corporate Control of Culture, a critical examination of the public discourse surrounding the influence of multinational corporations, marketing, and branding. At the center of this examination is a reconsideration of the insurgent cultural and political movement loosely known as "culture jamming," and an analysis that questions the practicality of its strategies.

Support The Portland Mercury

Author Christine Harold organizes her argument into chapters addressing three specific responses to contemporary capitalistic control: sabotage, appropriation, and intensification. Her exploration of the first strategy focuses on the artistic and political subversives of Situationist International, people like Guy Debord, tracing their influence to present-day brand saboteurs Adbusters. Her discussion of the second strategy revolves around pranking and pirating, exemplified by media hoaxers and performance artists like Guerrilla Media, Joey Skaggs, and the Barbie Liberation Organization (the group responsible for infamously switching Barbie's and G.I. Joe's voiceboxes). Finally, her argument for the third strategy examines a "free culture" movement inspired by open source software, using innovations in artistic licensing through Creative Commons, a project housed in Stanford, as an example.

In her final assessment of each section, Harold makes convincing cases for the shortcomings of several activist movements. The sabotage tactics of Adbusters, inspired by Situationist International, "subversive as they may have been in their original time and place, are now quite home in the vernacular of advertising," writes Harold, citing examples of brand campaigns that "jam" themselves throughout. Ultimately, Harold finds the "intensification" of marketing logic and rhetoric the most compelling version of culture jamming available, stating that "open content frees markets... in such a way that disallows the hoarding of resources that makes contemporary capitalism, for most culture jammers, so unjust."