Snafu on Thu, 20 Mar 2008 04:57:52 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> BMM by a Knock Out!

Hi David,

>Is this it? Have we reached it, 'tactical media's' final frontier.

i want to add another link to the famous "La Flandre Indépendante"
a fake special news on the impromptu Flandre secession aired by the
Wallonian broadcast RTBF in December 2006: 

To answer your question on the final frontier of tactical media i would
say certainly not. And i say it by quoting your own text, the now
notorious "The ABC of Tactical Media" (Garcia, Lovink, 1997):

"What makes Our Media Tactical? In 'The Practice of Every Day Life' De
Certueau analyzed  popular culture not as a 'domain of texts or artifacts
but rather as a set of practices or operations performed on textual or
text like structures'. He shifted  the emphasis from representations in
their own right to the  'uses' of representations. In other words how do
we as  consumers use the texts and artifacts that surround us. And the
answer, he suggested, was 'tactically'. That is in far more creative and
rebellious ways than had previously been imagined. He described the
process of consumption as a set of tactics by which the weak make use of
the strong. He characterized the rebellious user (a term he preferred to
consumer) as tactical and the presumptuous producer (in which he 
included authors, educators, curators and revolutionaries) as strategic...

Awareness of this tactical/strategic dichotomy helped us to name a class
of producers of who seem uniquely aware of the value of these temporary
reversals in the flow of power."

According to De Certeau, a strategy becomes possible only when "a
subject of will and power (a proprietor, an enterprise, a city, a
scientific institution)" can exercise its authority over a "place that
can be circumscribed as proper (propre)" and use this force as a
leverage "for generating relations with an exterior distinct from it
(competitors, adversaries, "clientèles," "targets," or "objects" of

On the other hand, a tactic "cannot count on a 'proper' (a spatial or
institutional localization)… The place of a tactic belongs to the other.
A tactic insinuates itself into the other's place, fragmentarily,
without taking it over in its entirety, without being able to keep it at
a distance… The 'proper' is a victory of space over time. On the
contrary, because it does not have a place, a tactic depends on time –
it is always watching for opportunities that must be 'seized on the
wing'." (1984, XIX)

Thus i would stick to De Certeau's distinction, and not be troubled by
the fact that mainstream media employ themselves guerrilla-communication
tactics, because those tactics become strategic as soon as they are used
by an institution counting on a proper.

So the real question for me is why mainstream media pretend that what is
scripted is, in fact, real. The short answer would be that, like
tactical media activists, they compete too in an extremely saturated
media environment and that nothing looks more real than a higly scripted
reality show.

The long answer would be trying to understand this epiphenomenon as a
reflection of the increasing autonomy of immaterial labor from political
elites. As a matter of fact, those kinds of TV programs are embarassing
to political leaders insofar as they show socio-political scenarios that
are unsettling and to which the ruling class is unable to provide
satisfying solutions.

In other words, i see them as manifestations of the fact that society is
discussing certain issues on its own (as it happens daily on the
internet) and also has begun to provide the first answers. Obviously,
historic precedents such as the 1987 NSK's poster scandal
( or the more recent stunt
of The Yes Men on BBC World fulfill similar functions.

But the difference between "strategic media" and "tactical media" is
that the former may have a larger impact in that they jolt the public
(i.e. the political class, competing media outlets, and the public at
large) into discussing the legitimacy of the broadcast, that is, the
logic underpinning a certain representational strategy. In this respect,
i agree with you, tactical media have gone a long way.

And yet this phenomenon is not entirely new. Recently, the venerable
American prankster Alan Abel gave a wonderful lecture at The Influencers
festival ( in Barcelona. In the documentary about
his life, Abel Raises Cain, one of his colloborators says something
like: "We used to create fake characters and infiltrate them in talk
shows. When the media realized how good it was to have scripted
characters they started doing it themselves."

We could say that the media responded to the the Abels, the Skaggs, the
Hoffmans, and the likes, by subsuming their surreal and provoking
attitude in the media spectacle. Nowadays no one asks any more whether
talk show characters are real or scripted, American teenagers get their
daily news from the Daily Show, and sometimes i have a hard time to tell
the difference between the headlines of the New York Post and those of
the satyrical weekly The Onion.

And yet even if they may reflect structural changes in newsmaking and
the decline of the myth of "fair and balanced" journalism, The Onion and
the New York Post, the Daily Show and Fox News, are fundamentally
different. In a way, satyrical news are much more honest than
Repubblican News in that they do not claim any veracity or they claim it
only for a limited period of time.

Thus i would start from the distinction between fake news that pretend
to be real, and fake news that present themeselves as a commentary on
some real issues, to open up a larger conversation rather than the
distinction between tactical and strategic media whose foundations you
set up so clearly 10 years ago.

all best,

David garcia wrote:

>BMM by a Knock Out !
>Last night Dutch reality TV and shocksploitation giants BMM ('Bart's
>Never-ending Network) won the world 'tactical guerilla media
>championship' of the world' with a stunning first round knock out.
>The unexpected result left the assembled world press, gathered last
>night at Hilversum stunned, as they stood eagerly waiting to gawk
>and to fulminate at the latest example of the Dutch commercial
>media's capacity to invent ever more outrageous reality TV. But in
>the dying moments of the event, the moral credibility tables were
>turned. The media world (not to mention the entire Dutch political
>establishment) were rocked and awed by the revelation that the world
>title (previously held by Orson Wells) for most daring media hoax now
>resides in the Netherlands.
>Is this it? Have we reached it, 'tactical media's' final frontier.

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