“Subvertise” is the millenial term for what baby boomers call “culture jamming.” (See Culture Jamming: The Grassroots War Against Mind Control) Their aim is to minimize the societal threat from advertising and the commercial culture that has spawned it. The technique has the potential to reach millions of people, using humor to jolt them into questioning the status quo.
The British artists who engage in “subvertising” go much further than merely editing billboard ads. Typically they will replace an entire bus shelter or underground ad with a a professional-looking poster conveying an ironic political message. Examples in the film include
Data Misuse is Our Business Model (Facebook, Google)
Theresa May Will Follow Donald Trump to the End of the World
Suck My Goldman Sachs (David Cameron)
Sorry We Got Caught (Volkswagen)
They also make fake Royal Navy recruitment ads for suicide bombers and a fake street sign reading “Curfew: Social Cleansing 7-9 pm”
This strange little documentary develops the premise that materialism (the pressure to buy stuff we don’t want or need) is actually a cult.
It argues that like a cult
Our culture is hijacked by sophisticated rituals and symbols that bear little resemblance to our genuine needs.
The materialistic belief system imposed on us destroys our relationship with the environment and each other.
This system pressures us to ignore contradictory views and any activism against it is punished.
Leaders encourage us to focus on external threats (ie Muslims, immigrants, etc) to keep us from recognizing contradictions in the current system.
Our materialistic belief system operates purely for the leaders’ benefit.
The filmmakers go on to trace the history of forced materialism and the brief rebellion against it (the hippy movement) in the 1960s.
The solution they offer – forcing ourselves to focus on Plato’s concept of idealism – strikes me as a bit too abstract for a mainstream audience. However they offer some good examples of millenials rejecting materialism in favor of strong interpersonal relationships and community.