Commodify Your Dissent: Salvos from the Baffler

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9780393046212: Commodify Your Dissent: Salvos from the Baffler

The most vital and perceptive new magazine of the nineties--THE BAFFLER--fires sharp, satirical broadsides against the culture thrust. With its liberating attitude and cant-free intelligence, THE BAFFLER is a powerful polemic against the designs of the culture business on us all.

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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.

From the Back Cover:

The 1980s and 1990s have seen an enormous increase in the power of business over the American mind. Not since the Gilded Age have the robber barons of business accumulated more wealth or won more popular attention. But where the tycoons of yore built railroads or banks, today culture stands at the heart of American enterprise and mass entertainment has become its economic dynamo. For a decade The Baffler magazine has been an invigorating voice of dissent against these developments, in the tradition of the muckrakers and H. L. Mencken's The American Mercury. Commodity Your Dissent gathers together the best of its excoriating criticism of the new American cultural order, exploring such peculiar developments as the birth of the rebel consumer as hero in the pages of Wired and Details; the dramatic rise of "alternative" culture in the post-Nirvana era; the appearance of new business gurus like Tom Peters and corporate fads like "reengineering"; the ever-accelerating race to market youth culture; and the encroachment of advertising and commercial enterprise into every last nook and cranny of American life.

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