Caution: Dangerous if Figured Out

We all want to save the world, so you have to like that about the November/December edition of Adbusters. Its artful essays on what’s wrong with the world connect with readers’ own frustration with the state of affairs. 

The magazine plays into its anti-advertising, anti-corporate sentiment with its slogan, “Take More Risks. Live More Dangerously.” The Adbusters Media Foundation, which owns the publication, says it aims to “topple existing power structures and forge a major shift in the way we live in the 21st century.”

But don’t expect any enlightening columns on how communism would solve the global hunger crisis or how goods would flow in the United Stated under an alternative economic system. You won’t get much from Adbusters other than slogans.

It’s not that I have a problem with the concept of danger. It’s just that when you’re out to topple financial systems, I think you need more substance.

The “live more dangerously” slogan reminds me of a classic Skittles commercial. There’s this adorable kid whispering in your ear, “Taste the rainbow.” Sure, it sounds great. And I’m not in the business of disappointing little children. But I don’t know what the hell a rainbow tastes like. And frankly, neither does the kid.

Maybe Sarah Lazare was trying to live dangerously when she wrote a narrative on a protest against the G8 – the group of the seven countries with the most powerful economies and Russia.

The problem is that protests against the G8 accomplish little other than a temporary catharsis. The G8 is not even an organization. This BBC article says it has no headquarters, budget, or permanent staff. Lazare’s two-page essay is on a protest against eight very different countries. I’m sure it was a unique experience and I applaud the outspokenness, but it fails to engage any real problems that affect real people.

With already-starving countries bracing themselves for the looming devastation from the global financial crisis, essays like Lazare’s are a wasted opportunity for Adbusters.

The magazine could use more of its resources and talent to give readers the tools they need to fight the injustice and despair that they document in their essays.

The world is in need of answers, and Adbusters contributors know that – they clearly have a knack for catching despair and suffering. But upon flipping through its pages, readers who share their frustration with the “system” get little direction – other than to live more dangerously.

-Ricardo Ramírez 

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