The Null Device


In what is an echo of both the New Order Sunkist commercial and the self-jamming Nike billboards, anti-commercial New Wave band Devo have rerecorded their song "Whip It" for a cleaning product commercial. The ad shows middle-aged women dancing robotically whilst cleaning their suburban homes, while the music plays; the chorus has been changed to "Swiffer's good":

Devo agreed to perform the altered version for Swiffer advertisements because, Mr. Mothersbaugh said, "it was so absurd. We like messing with the boundaries between art and commerce."

Blatant sell-out, a clever subversion of consumerism, both or neither? It increasingly seems like the lines are blurred, every anti-consumerist culture jam becomes a viral marketing campaign and vice versa, with a hair's breadth of ironic detachment separating the cognisant from the suckers.

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Earthstation 5 is the newest file-sharing network to play whack-a-mole with the RIAA. This one's different; for one, its servers are hosted in a Palestinian refugee camp, rendering them immune to RIAA lawsuits. (Though presumably not Israeli missiles.) The service is legal under Palestinian copyright law, which offers very weak protection to foreign copyrights. I wonder whether this will diminish any sympathy the US has towards the Palestinians, and perhaps prompt the Whitehouse to tacitly approve Israeli military operations it would have otherwise objected to. After all, intellectual property is at stake here.

This reminds me of the Bruce Sterling story in which China launched a devastating attack against the US economy by putting up massive servers hosting pirate copies of Microsoft Office and the latest Hollywood blockbusters, free for the taking. (via bOING bOING)

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