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31 août 2005

Starter Kit For Activists

Wednesday August 31, 2005 @ 10:30 AM

By: Staff

I first learned about Greenpeace when I saw a clip of U2 performing to protest against the Sellafield nuclear plant and it's potential to be a worse catastrophe than Chernobyl.

I learned about Stephen Biko, Africa and his crusade against apartheid from Peter Gabriel and the song by the same name. I wasn't an alter boy, but I did spend eight catholic years at All Saints elementary school in Toronto and I praised Sinead O'Connor when she ripped up the picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live.

Taking a stand for change is nothing new. Social and political activism is healthy in these paranoid times and it seems logical to want to be a part of this counter-culture, however, the membership card does not come without criticism.

Our Lady Peace

During the Seattle riots in 1999 one of the protesters responsible for kicking in the windows of the massive Niketown was caught on tape wearing, what else, Nikes. The peace-loving hippies from the 1960s ultimately became the yuppies in the 1990s and are considered the driving force behind the environmentally unfriendly SUV craze. Many think U2's outspoken frontman Bono needs to shut his rich ass the F#@$ up.

Roger & Me and Fahrenheit 911 director Michael Moore has been criticized for being as big a bully as the corporate CEOs he chases. World-renowned "culture jamming" magazine Adbusters aren't always as anti-consumerism and anti-capitalism as they lead to believe.
Their line of foreign-made blackspot anti-sneakers is growing and poised to become a "brand," no different than all the sneaker brands they beat up on.

Interestingly enough, I was a huge fan and supporter of Adbusters and approached them to be a part of Our Lady Peace's Summersault Festival in 2000. Adbuster president Kalle Lasn wouldn't do it. He said he needed to get paid. Strange? Greenpeace, Amnesty and all the local charities didn't want money. They welcomed the opportunity to set up booths in our "cultural stimuli village" and reach out to the over quarter of a million Canadian kids who came to the concerts that summer.

I guess the bottom line is that in the gigantic task of trying to right the wrongs of society, we are all hypocrites to some degree. I'm sure I've been guilty of crossing that fine line between activist and asshole more than once.

The risk of self-righteousness and social elitism are more than worth it though. There is an entire movement of people fed up with everything from the growth hormones put in our food to the bias and propaganda within our news sources to the amount of ritalin prescribed to children to the illegal wars being waged overseas. I can see how some people may be intimidated by the seriousness of such stands against society. It is understandable that they may need some easing into the culture.

I've found just the thing and it targets society at it's most evil. It's a kind of "social activist starter kit." The TV BeGone remote. It costs only $15 and is available, ironically enough, on the Adbuster's website. The TV BeGone remote can turn off television sets in bars, airports, homes and offices. This genius device takes all the pretense and seriousness out of social and political activism. It's selling point is that it "reclaim's public space."

When you're feeling like society has turned into one giant live plasmascreen advertisement, TV BeGone to the rescue. It can free you from the mind-numbing obsession with celebrity. It has the power to aggravate all the sociopath corporate whores who meet at your local bar after work reveling in their greed.

It can even spare you from having to sit through another 30 second news piece on some self-consumed actor or singer promoting his or her latest cause. The TV BeGone remote is the perfect unbiased starter kit for the counter-culture. It takes the serious out of the seriousness of our world if only until someone reaches up and turns the damn TV back on.

— Raine Maida

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