Posts tagged ‘family guy’

March 17, 2013

More on Culture Jamming

It was brought up on page 84 of Alternative & Activist New Media that culture jamming has become a standard feature in pop culture.  Its ironic, parodic, “in on the joke” quality and pastiche have been appropriated by a number of mainstream entertainment programs, such as: The Simpsons (whose “Lisa the Iconoclast” episode I have actually been tested on in my Culture & Media class a few years ago… you can watch the episode here), Family Guy, American Dad, The Daily Show, and the Colbert Report.  And as we all know (or at least should have figured out by now…) I kinda sorta love the idea of culture jamming, so I figured I’d explore a little more.

Shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report smartly utilize your typical 5 o’clock news style (down to the dramatic music and overly-enthused attitudes) to get their points across.  And, from a previous post here, we know that the most successful jams use the same medium as the target.  As stated in this article I found, The Colbert Report writers and comedians disseminate dissident interpretations of current political events, potentially jamming the transmission of the dominant political brand message.  Like other culture jammers, The Colbert Report subversively employs emotional and aesthetic modalities similar to those employed by political branding itself, thus interrupting it from within.  Unlike many culture jammers, however, The Colbert Report’s reliance on a humorous version of parody means that they can add their voices to the conversation in a seemingly innocuous way (after all, it’s just a joke).

That same article goes on to explain how, according to Lasn, the primary goal of many culture jammers is détournementwhich is a French term that literally translates to “a turning around.”  Makes sense.  Jammers want to “turn around” the image or idea or conversation.

But animated shows do things a little differently.  They can’t rely on real people wearing nice suits and a smile to mock current events or popular culture.  So they primarily use satire to ridicule and criticize, but, as any good jam hopes to accomplish, much of the audience is unaware of the “prank.”  See above link to The Simpsons for an example episode.  Another episode that comes to mind?  Family Guy‘s FCC Censorship episode.  You know, the one where Peter is upset with the FCC enforcing strict censorship laws on television so he creates his own network which eventually gets shut down by none other than the FCC.  It proves, to me at least, that the show is a little more than toilet humor and poorly timed jokes.