The Ambivalent Intermediary: ADBUSTERS and the Pursuit of Counter-Hegemony

Sarah Elizabeth Perry


Emerging from the Fall 2001 seminar in Visual Culture, thispaper contemplates the success of the subversive culturejamming movement as evidenced through the ‘resistant’ Adbusters magazine. Adbusters’ true potential for inciting revolt against Capitalist domination is questioned in light of the magazine’s paradoxical reliance upon those products which are central to commodity culture itself (namelyadvertising). Rather than offering an innovative, galvanizingcampaign, it is argued that Adbusters occupies an inherentlyambivalent realm which allows the magazine to denounce thedominant regime whilst simultaneously profiting from itscommercial approach. Such an ambivalent stance permitsanalogy to Fanon’s (1967) delineation of the colonialsituation, and prompts the suggestion that resistance andultimate counter-hegemonic emancipation are unattainableconsidering Adbusters’ firm entrenchment within the Westernculture industry.

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University of Victoria