Culture Jamming

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Yesterday I went on a wee tirade about language and pronunciation. Because I was thinking so much about the word “jam” and its various uses, I remembered working on a blog project from my last master’s degree. We had to get into groups and write a blog (a new media outlet) demonstrating our learning from that term (which was a lot about culture jamming).

Culture jamming is, according to the University of Washington definition:

“Culture jamming is an intriguing form of political communication that has emerged in response to the commercial isolation of public life. Practitioners of culture jamming argue that culture, politics, and social values have been bent by saturated commercial environments, from corporate logos on sports facilities, to television content designed solely to deliver targeted audiences to producers and sponsors. Many public issues and social voices are pushed to the margins of society by market values and commercial communication, making it difficult to get the attention of those living in the “walled gardens” of consumerism. Culture jamming presents a variety of interesting communication strategies that play with the branded images and icons of consumer culture to make consumers aware of surrounding problems and diverse cultural experiences that warrant their attention.

Many culture jams are simply aimed at exposing questionable political assumptions behind commercial culture so that people can momentarily consider the branded environment in which they live. Culture jams refigure logos, fashion statements, and product images to challenge the idea of “what’s cool,” along with assumptions about the personal freedoms of consumption. Some of these communiqués create a sense of transparency about a product or company by revealing environmental damages or the social experiences of workers that are left out of the advertising fantasies. The logic of culture jamming is to convert easily identifiable images into larger questions about such matters as corporate responsibility, the “true” environmental and human costs of consumption, or the private corporate uses of the “public” airwaves.”

This sort of “jam” rather than “yam” is pretty cool although I am not particularly creative enough to go down this road. I just thought it would be fun to revisit the blog my group created over a year ago. My post naturally went way over the word limits but did get to incorporate the Yes Men – love them!

And rather randomly connected with one of the guys from culture jamming musical pioneers, Negativland, thanks to knowing something about culture jamming.

Misused Words | J = Y | Don’t Double Down Until You Double Check

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Misuse = Abuse = You Are a Boob

Everyone is brutalizing my beautiful husband, the English language!

How is it that something reads “collegiate” when “collegial” is meant? I know how it happens. You think you heard it or saw it that way and eventually start using it with confidence. And next thing you know you’re throwing your misheard/misused word around all over town. But it’s wrong and could be fixed by just checking and confirming it in a dictionary first. Just to be sure, even if you are sure you’re sure.

I am almost always sure, but I like to double check. (Or, to jump in and use a phrase I hate – and discuss below – Don’t double down until you double check.)

I saw a job ad today that put itself out there as a high-end, exclusive luxury branding manager kind of role. But then in the bulleted highlights, it read: “collegiate environment”. I dunno about you, but if I were going to take on a luxury-goods senior brand management role, I don’t want to feel like I’m back in college – kegger anyone? Which is what “collegiate” means.

In a similar vein, my mom did some work for a writer who wrote the line, “She reached into her brazier” when he actually meant “brassiere”. He was offended when she corrected it. But, pardon the pun, would you rather look like a boob… or actually use the right word for what is essentially… a boob holder?

The Swedish J to Y

It isn’t that Swedes cannot say “J” as in “just” or “judge” or “jet lag”. In some constructions, depending on where the “j” comes in the word they want to say, they say the “dj” sound. In many others they pronounce it “y”. Many Swedes pronounce it “y” always. So it’s “yet lag”, “yust”, “yudge”, “yoy” or “enyoy yourself” – or, as I heard today, “yam” when “jam” was meant. There was some discussion that employed the word “jam” – and it was all I could do not to laugh when people quite earnestly said “yam”. Candied yams all around. I should be used to this now, and for the most part I am. I never so much as flinch when I hear the common words from the mouths of Swenglish speakers every day. But this may well have been the first time I heard “jam” as “yam”.

Doubling Down on Dumb – Vernacular Abuse

I was none too pleased quite some time ago when KFC launched a sandwich called the “Double Down” – it is basically two fried chicken patties in place of the bread that would normally house a sandwich. The media has enjoyed the launch and limited-time relaunch of this “sandwich”, with The New York Daily News going so far as to question what constitutes a sandwich, and The Guardian calling it “controversial”, almost as much as the eating, feasting public likes the (as described) “bunless, protein-rich, fat-filled” concoction.

Double Down on coronary artery disease

Double Down on coronary artery disease

All that aside, and my point for even bringing it up, I am not at all a fan of the term “double down”. I noticed it creeping into everyday language a few years ago (and wrote about it) – especially from the babbling mouths of political pundits, usually criticizing other politicians who had a bad idea and then “doubled down” on the same bad idea. (“Double down” is a gambling term – doubling the bet on whatever one was wagering on.)

Double Down Under” – The Crystal Method

Now, this build up of “doubling down” has finally reached its peak (or given how poorly I think of it, its nadir). I sat in a corporate meeting today and TWO executives mentioned that we will “double down” on some part of the strategy. Can we get a collective Nancy “My life really began when I married my husband” Reagan (that is, “just say no”) here? Once its in the corporate jargon lexicon, it’s past annoying. It’s vomit-worthy.

Baked goods: Witch finger cookies

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Finger-like cookies that creep everyone out (though it does not stop people from eating them).

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup whole blanched almonds
raspberry jam, deseeded

In bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. Stir dry ingredients together, then add to wet and stir thoroughly. Cover and chill (from 30 minutes to overnight).

Working with one quarter of the dough at a time and keeping remainder refrigerated, roll a scant tablespoon of dough into a thin snake-like shape (4 or so inches long). Create knuckle shapes and cut slashes where you form the knuckles. Press almond firmly into the end of the cookie to form nail shape, remove almond and fill with a dot of jam, then replace the almond. They should be thin and gangly because they will puff up when baking.

Put cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 325F/160C oven for 20-25 minutes or until pale golden. Let cool for a few minutes.

You can also make slashes in the finger and fill them with “blood”.

(With the leftover dough and jam, I was able to make some “normal” cookies. To make these, simply roll teaspoons of dough into a ball and make a thumbprint in the center. Fill the thumbprint with a tiny amount of jam. The cookies do puff up/spread a bit; too much jam will make a big mess when the cookie spreads. See this variation below.)