POPaganda: The Art and Subversion of Ron English // Culture Jamming at its Finest

Ron English is an American street artist that specializes in Culture Jamming. His technique includes creating billboards that ridicules corporate brands, political issues, and societal trends. This short documentary is based on Ron English’s interesting point of view and why does he do his art.

In Alternative and Activist Media, Leah Lievrouw quotes media designer Jonah Peretti in a way that describes exactly Ron English’s artistic purposes. He defines culture jamming as a “strategy that turns corporate power against itself by co-opting, hacking, mocking, and re-contextualizing meanings.” His work involves culture jamming of corporations such as McDonalds, Marlboro, Disney, and Coca-Cola.

Ron English makes a couple of points in the documentary that I would like to highlight. Firstly, he mentions that the thing that he likes the most about “billboard hacking” is that there is no editor or supervisor telling him to tone down his content, rather than if he were a political cartoonist he could be more censored. This made me think about the Paris Attack and the effects of exposing art that is going “to far” through media companies versus just exposing it without any supervision. Next point that he makes is that rented space is still not usable for his purpose because as a local artist, the spaces to place billboards would lose so much money and they tend to stay loyal to the corporation that pays them the most. And the last point that Ron English makes in the documentary is that most of his art is conveying a message that a lot of people are thinking, but are too afraid to express.

When thinking about the word hacker, digital technology comes to mind. Ron English can be categorized as an offline hacker.  He invades a private places and exposes his opinions about certain topics. We may also say that Ron English is a troll because the ending of the documentary.  Ron English is shown walking into a McDonalds and buying Happy Meals for his kids.  In a world where we are constantly bombarded with advertisements, that our subconscious is already use to, a Ron English piece will certainly make you look twice, or trice.

To watch the documentary click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zpXLKAyESM


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