Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity

By Anne Elizabeth Moore. <i>The New Press. $15.95.</i>

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Conversational, intellectually curious, and charmingly ragged, Unmarketable is an anticorporate manifesto with a difference: It exudes raw coolness. It’s the very quality that, as Anne Elizabeth Moore writes, advertisers are eagerly trying to capture in an attempt to reach the coveted youth market. “Amateur” ad campaigns now sell everything from Heinz ketchup to presidential candidates; companies commission graffiti artists to put up “graffadi”; and hipster phrases have been refashioned as corporate slogans (as in Toyota’s “Drive It Yourself” campaign).

Moore, a lifelong punk and former editor of Punk Planet (R.I.P.), regales us with her own brushes with selling out—she once ran zine workshops sponsored by Starbucks—as well as her adventures in street cred, such as an enjoyable day spent “shopdropping,” when she planted feminist greeting cards (“Equal Pay for Equal Work”) in an American Girl Place and got kicked out by a store detective.

Refreshingly, Moore reasons as well as she pulls pranks. She offers a sophisticated analysis of how companies co-opt trends and a relatively knowledgeable gloss of “copyfighting”—challenging companies’ often extreme intellectual property claims. The irony is that while corporations sic their lawyers on anyone who appropriates their logos or imagery, they copy underground and diy artists, with few legal repercussions. When Nike blatantly rips off an album cover from the famously noncommercial band Minor Threat, Moore is caught between her devotion to artistic freedom and her desire to see some old-school punks sue the sneakers off the corporate copyright infringers.

In true grrl-zine style, Unmarketable flaunts its rough patches. Moore doesn’t follow the rules of polemic nonfiction: There are no immaculate yarns and there are few interviews or memorable catchphrases. Yet what she lacks in polish, she makes up for with authenticity. And that’s something that can’t be conjured up by an adman, an A&R rep, or even a book publisher.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate