good // bad // lulz

What do Anonymous and hip-hop culture have in common?

The (in)famous hacktivist group Anonymous was born on 4chan and has claimed Guy Fawkes as its figurehead. It is a global collective which has no mission, no allegiance, and holds no punches. The whole idea is that they use the anonymity facilitated by the internet to engage in lulz-worthy activities as well as coordinated hacking efforts (typically with the goal of protecting internet freedom or exposing protected information). They communicate via twitter, youtube, and other social media avenues in order to plan their actions.

Hip-hop culture centers around rapping, DJing, graffiti and breaking (break dancing). Rap can simply a be a chronicle of life spoken over a beat, a simple but powerful dissemination of truth about the life of a disenfranchised population or a crazy song, just for lulz (see:Riff Raff). Graffiti art is very similar. It can be an individualized act of defiance and protest or just some great art, but always shrouded in anonymity due to its illegal nature. Banksy is a fantastic street artist based out of London.

(everyone should watch his movie Exit Through the Gift Shop)

He goes by a pseudonym as almost all street artists and rappers do. It is part of the culture. It serves multiple roles. It can protect their identity or enable acting out a character (Eminem has multiple identities with various personalities). The musicians distribute through youtube, bypassing major record labels. Macklemore is one of the most successful independent artists to date mostly due to his hipster anthem Thrift Shop (now it is too mainstream…no pleasing those hipsters…).

What ties these two? I imagine you have already drawn some parallels related to subversive behavior and distribution methods (social media) but the most important element is that what they say is not nearly as important as how they say it. The medium they use to share and collaborate speaks louder than the actual message. Anonymous and rappers on youtube are saying something about the power of the internet simply by using it to become famous. The same thing goes for graffiti, the power is in creating the mark, not what the mark says or looks like. They are all saying, “Hey, look what we can do. We are doing it and there is no stopping us,” whether for good, bad, or lulz, it makes no difference.

About Adam

I am an architecture undergrad @ Virginia Tech with an interest in emergent and interactive design.
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