Culture Killers or Pains in the Neck?

Wired reports on a new book whose thrust, evidently, aligns decently well with my own little personal views (and not just mine): Brand Name Bullies. Says the review in Wired:

To prove his point that the commons is under attack, Bollier has filled Bullies with example after example of how corporate lawyers have swooped in on artists and consumers who have tried to use products and logos in ways other than those prescribed by the corporations themselves.

Ah, but here’s the conclusion:

At 253 pages — not counting the 55 pages of additional notes and indexes in the back — Bullies provides more than enough case studies like these to convince you that copyright and trademark laws don’t always serve the public. However, the book has one big flaw: It doesn’t quite manage to prove Bollier’s assertion that these laws, or the abuse of them, are greatly threatening our culture.

This about what I said when this “killing culture” concept was first mooted. Nutsy rent-seeking in IP is a big pain in the neck, but it’s not going to kill culture.

In fact, now that I think about it… this phenomenon, as obnoxious as it might be, just might kill what might could be a culturally-retardant phenomenon: Post-modernism! Maybe we can move on from the Mickey Mouse watch, irony, and camp… and get back to creating some real culture instead of reheating the 20th century ad infinitum?

Yes, an interesting thought. Meanwhile, no, we’re not killing culture. But we’re sure feeding a lot of lawyers. That can’t be all bad, can it?

By Ron Coleman

I write this blog.

2 thoughts on “Culture Killers or Pains in the Neck?”
  1. Postmodernism exists, as a cultural form, for a reason. As I understand it, postmodernism is in large part a response to the consumer culture, in that it manipulates the images which have become most predominant in the collective consciousness — corporate, consumer images.

    By suppressing these uses, in a lot of ways we suppress core political speech. As I understand postmodern art, at least the kind that manipulates corporate symbolism, it is fundamentally political — it is commentary about the control of the ideas that we use to communicate and understand the world.

    Killing that kills a big part of culture.

  2. A fair point, Paul. My comments were intended to provoke a little — kind of like political art, I guess. By large, as should be clear, I am quite critical of the “suppression” you’re condemning, as well. It’s not for me, after all — nor the Fortune 500 — to act as Commissar of Culture.

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