>From the words “agitation” and “propaganda” we get agitprop. Because this word first showed up in connection with the Bolsheviks it has always had a leftist sense about it. But it really can be applied to just about anything that is about disseminating ideas with the desire to change consciousness and encourage action against the forces of power, blah, blah. From what I can tell today most agitprop, though often leftist in tenor, is mostly about challenging dominant paradigms of power and hegemony. That I can get behind.
It also seems today YouTube is becoming the location of much agitprop.
Here is a provocative and fascinating juxtaposition of images and stereotypes of women and cultures that confront our assumptions of dangerous differences, amongst other things:
Who can forget this amazing anti-war video (a great example of détournement) produced by the Guerrilla News Network only a year into the Iraq War. It is still powerfully relevant and devastating today:
The Billboard Liberation Front “improves” an AT&T advertisement in 2008:
Or this video made by anarchists on how to get the message out (agitprop about doing agitprop):
The question, of course, is how much actual action do things like these produce? For the most part I hope a lot (at least non-violent action), but I fear that YouTube clips may, in fact, exacerbate inaction. It may be “the medium is the message” kind of problem. Sitting at one’s computer and surfing video clips, even agitprop pieces like the ones above, is not the same as doing something. It’s too easy to go to the next clip.
And it’s often unclear what one’s actions should be. This is where the third clip above might be the most effective in encouraging action. People often already have strong emotions about the world they live in, but they don’t always know what to do. Of course, not just anyone is going to be swayed by anarchists and their ilk.
Regardless, getting “the message” out, whatever that message is, is important for the grand dialog. YouTube (and all Internet media) has been affecting the landscape of ideas for a while now. Feel free to add your thoughts.
* * * SPECIAL BONUS * * *
A trip down agitprop memory lane provided at no extra charge.
An excerpt from Ant Farm’s 1975 performance of Media Burn. The original “kill your t.v.” message:
1998 performance of the end of Orwell’s “1984” by The Surveillance Camera Players:
One thought on “>modern agitprop and youtube”
>i love the first video.i don’t want to be… what’s the word for it… but… in their free time, people only watch what they want to see. and they want to see only what they were forced to watch earlier (ok, not everybody, but too damn many). it doesn’t matter how good the video gets, people who it’s made for will never see it. those people find youtube videos with the most idiotic, irrational messages and post them as myspace bulletins for more people to watch.