Art of Resistance 4 comments

Art of Resistance: hands holding up paint brush, CD & microphone

…art of resistance (…): that is, art that works to resist erasure and oppression, art that revisits and revises history, art that that tells new stories that complicate received notions (…), rather than confirming simplistic and degrading stereotypes.

Monica Brown, in Gang Nation: Delinquent Citizens In Puerto Rican, Chicano, And Chicana Narratives

“Resist erasure and oppression.” “Revisit and revise history”. “Tell new stories that complicate received notions.” “[Oppose] simplistic and degrading stereotypes.”

I would like my writing to live up to these standards.

What about you? Is your work “art of resistance”? What are you resisting? How?

What possibilities do you see in your work when you look at it this way?

(You don’t have to share your answers here but if you’d care to I’m interested to read them.)

4 thoughts on “Art of Resistance

  • angelmirou

    I’ve been thinking about this subject for a few days now, ever since I had this class on storytelling applied to advertising and marketing.

    The lecturer cheerfully explained how corporate brands position themselves in the eyes of the public through certain narratives which he classified through an adaptation of Joseph Campbell’s archetypes.

    It made some sense, but it also erased any trace of ambiguity or shadow in the persona of those multinational giants, which in fact achieved some sort of elevated status thanks to their connection with primeval narratives. They became natural forces, like mountains or strong winds, above good and evil. The lecturer encouraged us to apply such archetypes to whatever client we’d work for and so find the narrative that best suited them.

    So I had to raise my hand and point out that that is just one among many, often contradictory narratives. That the products of some brands he cited are demonstrably a health risk, which makes it even creepier how they constantly target young and naive consumers. Not to mention some dodgy business practices when it comes to labour and environmentalism. All of which begs for other stories to be told. But of course

    The lecturer graciously admitted my point, and then, judging from the look on his face, wondered what the bleep I was doing in a marketing course.

    He too had a point. I understand we live in a consumerist society and products need to be advertised. But I could never engage in storytelling that promoted values or practices that I consider hateful. I don’t believe in preaching, but I don’t believe in ‘just telling a story’ either. No story is ever ‘just a story’.

    • Shaula Evans Post author

      Angel, I’m glad to see you still intend to keep me on my toes.

      Three things I can tell you about advertising (/marketing campaigns) and how they relate to narrative:

      1. If you want to know the truth about a commercial, play the narrative backwards. E.g., if a product promises to make you healthier, it will make you sicker; if it promises to make you handsomer, it will make you uglier, etc. This never fails.

      2. By applying #1, you can see that when a big corporation or industry lobbying group launches a warm and fuzzy marketing campaign about how they care about people and make the world a better place–it’s been launched under the advisement of their crisis communications team because they are about to be in the news for a class action suit, etc. This also never fails.

      3. If the only way you can successfully sell the public on your product / service / organization / candidate / agenda is to tell bald-faced lies about it… it’s time to rethink what you’re doing with your life.

      To go back to your comment… yes, just as there is art of resistance and there are also narratives of resistance, there’s art in the service of oppression, injustice, and reifying the status quo. Sometimes by deeply studying a negative example we can then invert it and find positive possibilities we wouldn’t have found otherwise.

      • angelmirou

        I totally agree, Shaula, and what about the stories in the middle? Those that leave the important things unsaid, and focus on the… well, I won’t say unimportant, because who am I to say so, but maybe the less urgent, the less pressing?
        Sometimes it’s as if we’re reporters in a war (against us! against women, against children, against poor people, against minorities, against the weak) but instead we choose to discuss the appalling food at the cafeteria of the hotel where we’re staying, or the bugs in our beds. Yes, the food is appalling, yes the bugs bite like hell, but what about the war outside the hotel?

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