The videos on this page were originally made for Twitter posts. Many are experimental attempts to utilize advertising techniques and popular culture to convey progressive ideas. Hashtags for these projects included #ChangeTheWorld and #ImagineABetterWorld.

Some are fragments of TV commercials that I transformed by replacing the original meaning with a counter-message, a technique the Situationists called détournement.

Others are experiments in promoting progressive ideas by emulating the emotional appeals advertisers use to exploit our deepest desires and convince us to buy their products.

Also, enjoy a couple videos featuring the comedic stylings of Donald Trump (we’re not laughing with you, Don, we’re laughing at you).


Gen Z – Longing for Belonging

I’ve transformed this US Marine Corps recruiting commercial to suggest there are more constructive ways to find purpose and acceptance than joining the military.

This video is an experiment in détournement, the Situationist technique of hijacking a cultural work (or an ad) by negating its original meaning and inserting a new message.

The original commercial tries to exploit the loneliness, anxiety and lack of purpose young people experience living in today’s shallow, online world.

But joining the military is just one way—and maybe not a good way—to build a better world together. Social activism, and participation in your country’s political system, is another path to finding the meaning, fulfillment and camaraderie that the Marine Corps claims to provide.

I’m sure the Marines spent a lot of money on polling and focus groups to determine how to influence Gen Z’ers by addressing their feelings of alienation. There’s no reason progressives can’t use those same insights to craft messages that will reach kids where they live.

Click the paper airplane button in the upper right corner of the video to share this with your followers on social media.


Demand healthcare for All!

You’d do anything to keep the people you love safe. So help protect them with affordable healthcare.

This video is an experimental attempt to associate the warm feelings the general public feels about their friends, family and community with the security of universal healthcare. It was inspired by schmaltzy TV commercials.

In his book Dream, Stephen Duncombe argues that progressives need to lessen their reliance on rational policy arguments and learn to persuade by touching people’s hearts. People are moved by emotions, not logic.

Advertisers, who spend millions on polling and focus groups to uncover our deepest dreams and desires, know how to tug at our heartstrings to sell us products and ideologies.

Those same techniques can be appropriated by progressives and transformed into communication tools for social change.

Click the paper airplane button in the upper right corner of the video to share this with your followers on social media.

See my interview with Stephen Duncombe and Steve Lambert here – https://nonviolence3.com/boring

Music by Aakash Gandhi


Does Mazda make you feel alive?

The smart, creative people that make commercials know how to tap into our most intimate desires (and fears) to sell us stuff. They want to convince us the emotional void we feel in our lives can be filled with shiny new products. Under capitalism, phony consumerism substitutes for authentic, meaningful experience.

Can driving a new car be exhilarating? For sure. But that excitement is transitory, shallow and devoid of meaning.

Real fulfillment comes from rejecting the individualism of consumer culture and participating in a community of like-minded souls. When we join with others in striving to build a better world, we enrich our lives, experiencing power and purpose.

This video is an experiment in détournement, the Situationist technique of hijacking a cultural work by negating its original meaning and inserting a new message.

It is also partially inspired by Stephen Duncombe’s book Dream. Duncombe contends that progressives need to lessen their reliance on rational policy arguments and learn to persuade by touching people’s hearts and emotions.

And who is better at emotional persuasion than advertisers, who spend millions on polling and focus groups to reveal our deepest dreams and desires? Embedded within TV commercials are the keys to what move and motivate people, and Duncombe thinks those same techniques can be appropriated by progressives and transformed into tools for social change.

If the promise of “Feeling Alive” works for selling cars, could it also help convince people to seek fulfillment by becoming more active in the democratic process?

Click the paper airplane button in the upper right corner of the video to share this with your followers on social media.

See my interview with Stephen Duncombe and Steve Lambert here – https://nonviolence3.com/boring


Find Adventure & Change the World

This video depicts a dangerous guerilla action in Las Vegas documented by the art collective INDECLINE. I’ve adapted it to suggests ordinary people can find adventure by engaging in political activism.

By carefully analyzing advertising and pop culture, we can get an idea of what people yearn for in their lives. And it’s clear that people in the US long for escape from their humdrum existence to find excitement and adventure.

For example, popular video games simulate the danger of violent crime and war. Vacation resorts promote ziplining, paragliding and tours to exotic locales. Car commercials depict the exhilaration of heading out on the open road. Hollywood movies immerse us in new worlds, far-removed from our quotidian existence.

Yet when people think of activism, they picture mind-numbing meetings and boring rallies featuring speakers preaching to the choir.

Engaging with the political system shouldn’t be boring. Social justice movements and campaigns will only attract the large numbers of followers they need to make a difference by tapping into popular passions, like the quest for adventure. Direct action can be creative and exciting.

It can even be dangerous.

Click the paper airplane button in the upper right corner of the video to share this with your followers on social media.

More INDECLINE videos here – https://thisisindecline.com/flicks/

Read my interview with INDECLINE here – https://nonviolence3.com/indecline/


Our Dreams Shape the Future

Those who want to maintain the status quo like to tell us that the way things are in this world is the way they must be. “There is no alternative,” they say. “Don’t even try to think about a better future,” they say. “It’s not practical, it’s unrealistic, it’s too radical, it goes against tradition and anyway, everything is just fine as it is.”

Politicians and the wealthy like to keep our thinking trapped within a narrow range of possibilities, keep us from ever believing things could be different than they are now. Because they know that dreams are subversive, and the simple act of imagining something new is the first step toward fundamental change.

Dreams shape reality. Our deepest desires possess real power. We must learn to take our subjectivity seriously.

When we reject the polarization of politics and share our personal visions of a better future, we may find the dreams of conservatives and progressives are not that far apart.

Click the paper airplane button in the upper right corner of the video to share this with your followers on social media.

Music – Summer in Colombia by Carmen María and Edu Espinal


The Trump Comedy Show

These clownish clips from some of Donald Trump’s campaign rallies confirm he was definitely one goofy-ass president.

The aura of authority can be one of the main pillars of support for a ruler, a regime or an institution. But authority isn’t a thing—it’s just a perception, and perceptions can change. When deference is replaced by ridicule, authority vanishes.

Hannah Arendt wrote about this in her essay “On Violence”:

“To remain in authority requires respect for the person or the office. The greatest enemy of authority, therefore, is contempt, and the surest way to undermine it is laughter.”

See my related blog post “Laughing at Authority

Click the paper airplane button in the upper right corner of the video to share this with your followers on social media.

Music – Bunny Hop by Quincas Moreira
Sound effects – Orange Free Sounds and FreeSound


Trump the Comedian

The one thing dictators can’t stand is being laughed at.

So I added a laugh track to a portion of this Trump press conference and found it made his statements sound even more ridiculous.

He was talking about his “perfect” phone call with President Zelensky of Ukraine, the “smoking gun” in his first impeachment.

The joint presser took place at the White House on November 13, 2019 with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey.

Click the paper airplane button in the upper right corner of the video to share this with your followers on social media.


More videos to come…


Creative Commons License
Videos on this page by James L. VanHise licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Attribution: James L. VanHise – fragmentsweb.org.

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