Users — take back the media!

Ethan Kaplan at has written something approaching a manifesto for a new age of creativity driven by cheap and accessible technology — something he distinguishes from “user-generated content,” because I think he feels that’s a marketing buzzword used primarily by big corporations, in order to try and co-opt people’s desire to contribute. As he puts it:

“The whole concept behind “User Generated Content” as a means of describing content created by and for the People is flawed in that it simultaneously is presupposing a hierarchal difference — subjugating the “User” as a different class — [and] maintaining this hierarchy by virtue of a disingenuous altruistic elevation of said content to that of Corporate under the guise of Marketing.”

Can you tell that Ethan (the director of technology at Warner Brothers Records) has a degree in fine art and cultural theory? I thought you probably could. But he is right, in the sense that things like the Modest Mouse video contest are an attempt to give fans the illusion that they are actually interacting with the band when they are doing anything but. Ethan goes on to say:

“Here’s the thing: the best of what we now call UGC, and I choose to call GOOD FILM/VIDEO came from subversive desire and goals, as well as the desire for uninhibited creative expression outside of the confines of economics and hierarchy which define the media industry.”

“Take back the media! Do not partake in systems meant to enforce hierarchy, and instead embrace those that seek to diminish and eliminate it.”

A call to arms indeed. Creative artists of the world, unite! Take up the cellphone and the video camera — you have nothing to lose but your media chains.

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