What does it mean to be rebellious?
To rebel means to reject, resist or rise against an authority, control, tradition or simply the status quo. To be rebellious is to be critical.
And as such, it is something society usually frowns upon.
To be rebellious used to be challenging conformity, standing up for individuality, and having an urge to make a change in the world; that is, of course, before it all got so commercialized.
There seems to be a certain appeal to rebelliousness that fascinates the general public. The idea of the rebel relates to coolness, nonconformity and soulfulness, values that, due to social prejudices deeply intrinsic in our current society, are often seen as desirable – something that brands and even the media have noticed and begun exploring for their own profit.
More and more, images, messages and slogans with connotations to activism and rebelliousness became common in advertisement, restricting the values of the rebel to their looks.
This is often called the commodification of dissent or, in other words, the romanticism of rebellion, a “process by which attitudes that oppose the status quo are co-opted by marketers for the purpose of selling consumer items. The result is painfully ironic because the consequently increased consumerism and assimilation of the superficial characteristics of dissent without the system challenging ideologies, actually serve to bolster the status quo.” (Purvis, 2001)
We buy these products for their appeal to rebelliousness but, in reality, we’re not actually resisting or rejecting anything. Far from that, we’re doing the opposite, contributing to a specific trend and an increase in consumerism. “Meaningless commodification strips these signs of political integrity and meaning, denying the possibility that they can serve as a catalyst for concrete political action. As signs, their power to ignite critical consciousness is diffused when they are commodified. Communities of resistance are replaced by communities of consumption.” (Hooks, 1992)
Corporations today have the privilege of having enough power to change laws and habits but they still choose to use their influence in exchange for money.
- Hooks, B. (1992). Black Looks: Race & Representations. 1st ed. New York: South End Press.
- Purvis, (2001). commodification of dissent. [online] Everything2. Available at: http://everything2.com/title/commodification+of+dissent [Accessed 23 Feb. 2017].