The origin of many of our most elaborate models of corporatism, advertising, and how these things infiltrate culture is — ironically enough — also the proximate origin of the very practices that theme parks embody: the situationist movement in Paris. They were equally concerned with modeling advertising and its subversion and with imagining a future urbanism where a post-scarcity city would see its primary goal as providing citizens with interesting and entertaining experiences.

The situationists would say that we can only ever win temporarily: the spectacle sees those things that subvert it, consumes them, and allows the defanged and sanitized symbols of that very subversion to become a part of itself. Just as punk was stripped of its ethos, just as Apple took an anti-consumerist minimalism and turned it into a reason to buy more things, Disney and its cohorts will find anything that opposes them and wear its skin. Nevertheless, we can continue to subvert. The situationists were marxists — they believed that capitalism would collapse under its own weight, and (presaging accelerationism) believed that constant subversion would quicken the fall of the spectacle by bloating it.

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Resident hypertext crank. Author of Big and Small Computing: Trajectories for the Future of Software.

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