Shawn Ewald (shawn@wilshire.net)
Sun, 19 Oct 1997 04:41:43 -0700

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This article found at the excellent "Anarchy for Anybody" page: http://pubweb.acns.nwu.edu/~dtn307/anarchy.html ------------------------------------------------------------- "AUTHORITY SUCKS WEEK"

The first feature of the "groundbreaking" MTV News: Unfiltered (aka, "Authority Sucks" week)--"freestyle walking." Teens in Illinois are loping about, careening off of walls, lockers, over bushes as if they were skateboarding. Here's the catch: they don't actually have skateboards! Radical, dude! Another advertised spot to come: students pushing for the right to keep pet ferrets in their dorms! Fight the power! This gives you an idea of what the corporate media wants you to think fighting authority is all about!

MTV has declared this week to be their "Authority Sucks" week. Now, what's this all about? Well, the ads seem to be saying that, if you have a beef with authority, this is the time to voice it. They even said something like, "it's your chance, so if it sucks, it's your fault."

Like everything else associated with MTV, this isn't some random, devil-may-care iniative on their part, but is a carefully market-researched media event.

In one of their tepid "news" broadcasts, they confidently rattled off that 1/3 of teens cruise the wwweb regularly, and 1/3 of those teens foray into political sites--so, if you're here, MTV would like to tell you all about the great Republican and Democrat political wwweb sites you can look at, as if THESE run the gamut of political opinion in the country! MTV knows their teens...NOT!

Perhaps they found, in their research of their all-important teen and 18-24 media markets, that a lot of young people are decidedly fed up with authority, and their marketing department wanted to cash in on this.

This phenomenon isn't a new one; corporations are eagerly jumping on this bandwagon, in their effort to create the illusion that consumers really are rebelling when they buy a pair of Air Jordan sneakers ("You Say You Wanna Revolution?")

Of course, this is a crock, like everything else associated with the advertising industry. So, let's think about MTV's "Authority Sucks" media campaign.

First off, you have to know one important distinction: you can defy authority, and you can reject authority. Defying authority is meaningless. Why? Because ultimately, in your defiance, you are still recognizing the authority. The ad industry encourages this kind of behavior, and in this way, declares that their products are "revolutionary" when really, you're simply being a consumer...still roped in to the capitalist economic system. Defy authority...drink Molson Beer; or Pepsi; or buy some new sneakers; use that credit card; Use Sprint, instead of AT&T. You can have your shrink-wrapped radical lifestyle for a mere crumpled handful of dollar bills.

Defiance of authority is what the Baby Boomers were all about when they were young, which is why the world is so screwed now. See, they didn't ultimately reject authority; they merely wanted to "do their own thing." In this way, they did all sorts of outrageous, defiant things, and yet years later, have created a deeply troubled, conservative culture. They never adequately challenged the prevailing capitalist culture, and the world is worse for it.

Rejection of authority is far deeper in scope and breadth. It is not mere rebellion for the sake of style and fashion; rather, it is the refusal to accept oppression, and unwillingness to oppress, yourself. It is a recognition that authority is destructive to the one who uses it as well as the one who experiences it, and as an inhuman, destructive impulse. Rejection of authority cannot be so easily commodified as defianc of authority has. And why is that?

It's because rejection of authority ultimately leads to a rejection of capitalism itself! You cannot reject authority and accept capitalist economics. Every aspect of capitalism revolves around authority, and its standard method of operation: force. Look at any workplace. You have owners and bosses, and you have workers. Who is made to work harder? Who is better paid? Who's in charge? Who gets fired?

The purest fascist structure we have in society is the modern corporation. Pure, stark, dehumanizing top-down management, from the CEO down to the entry-level employee. Obedience is what gets you places in corporations, not performance, or ability, or even enthusiasm. You get along by going along.

So, MTV's claim that "Authority Sucks" ultimately means, "go ahead, bitch all you want; you're effectively powerless in this system. Let off some steam. Defy authority. 'Be young, have fun, drink Pepsi.'" This is what passes for freedom in our society; you can do anything you want, so long as what you do never challenges the existing economic order. Which amounts to "freedom" with a leash attached, which is no freedom at all.

These corporate advertising machines are urging you to defy authority all you want; but don't you dare reject it!

Color your hair blue, get a tattoo (hell, get a dozen of them), pierce that nose (or other body part), listen to this band. That's capitalist-style freedom: Do all you want...only remember who's boss!

__________________________ Radio4All: http://www.radio4all.org/ The A-Infos Radio Project: http://www.radio4all.org/radio http://radio4all.web.net/

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