Kalle Lasn

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Kalle Lasn
Kalle Lasn UBC (cropped).jpeg
Born (1942-03-24) March 24, 1942 (age 74)
Tallinn, Estonia
Occupation co-founder of Adbusters Media Foundation
Known for Adbusters, culture jamming
Spouse(s) Masako Tominaga

Kalle Lasn (Estonian pronunciation: [ˈkɑlˑɛ ˈlɑsn̥]) (born March 24, 1942) is an Estonian-Canadian film maker, author, magazine editor and activist. Near the end of World War II his family fled Estonia and Lasn spent some time in a German refugee camp. At age seven he was resettled in Australia with his family, where he grew up and remained until the late 1960s, attending school in Canberra. In the late 1960s, he founded a market research company in Tokyo, and in 1970, moved to Vancouver, Canada. For twenty years, he produced documentaries for PBS and Canada’s National Film Board. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.[1]

He is the co-founder of Adbusters magazine and author of the books Culture Jam and Design Anarchy and is the co-founder of the Adbusters Media Foundation, which owns the magazine. He reportedly started Adbusters after an epiphany that there was something profoundly wrong with consumerism. It happened in a supermarket parking lot. Frustrated that he had to insert a quarter to use a shopping cart, he jammed a bent coin in so that the machine became inoperable. This act of vandalism was his first (quite literal) "culture jam"—defined as an act designed to subvert mainstream society.[2]

Books and films[edit]

See also: Culture jamming

In his first book, Culture Jam, Lasn portrays consumerism as the fundamental evil of the modern era. He calls for a "meme war": a battle of ideas to shift Western society away from consumer capitalism. His second book, Design Anarchy, calls on graphic designers, illustrators and others to turn from working in service to corporate and political pollution of both the planet and "the mental environment", and to embrace a radical new aesthetic devoted to social and environmental responsibility.[citation needed]

Lasn made documentary films for 20 years beginning in 1970 - many of them to do with Japan, the homeland of his wife, Masako Tominaga.[3] His award-winning films include:

  • Bears and Man (Co-writer, editor)[4]
  • Japan Inc: Lessons for North America?[5]
  • Japanese Woman[6]
  • Satori in the Right Cortex[7]
  • The Rise and Fall of American Business Culture
  • The Autumn Rain: Crime in Japan

Activism and views[edit]

Lasn was one of the first people to call for an Occupy Wall Street (OWS) demonstration, but has been careful not to claim ownership of it.[8][9]

In 2004, he wrote and signed an Adbusters article entitled "Why Won't Anyone Say They Are Jewish?", in which he identified, from a list of George W. Bush-era neoconservatives, those who happen to be Jewish.[10]


  • Lasn, Kalle (2000) Culture Jam, New York: Quill
  • Lasn, K. (2005) Design Anarchy, Vancouver: Adbusters Media Foundation
  • Lasn, Kalle (2012) Meme Wars: The Creative Destruction of Neoclassical Economics, New York: Seven Stories Press, ISBN 978-1609804732


  1. ^ Leiren-Young, M. (December 2012). "His one demand: Profile of Kalle Lasn". The Walrus. 9 (10): 26–32. 
  2. ^ Kalle Lasn, Culture Jam, Harpers Collins, 1999, page xv
  3. ^ Linda Solomon, "Adbusters' Kalle Lasn: the flawed genius behind Occupy Wall Street", Vancouver Observer, October 12, 2011
  4. ^ "Bears and Man". Our Collection. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  5. ^ “Japan Inc: Lessons for North America?”, winner of Silver Screen Award, U.S. Industrial Film Festival, May 25, 1982, Elmhurst – USA; Chris Bronze Plaque - Category: Social Studies, International Film and Video Festival, October 29, 1981, Columbus – USA
  6. ^ “Japanese Woman”, Silver Plaque - Category: Documentary, International Film Festival, November 9 to 23, 1984, Chicago – USA, Silver Prize - Category: Films Dealing With Japan in General, Competition for Films on Japan, October 8 to 12, 1984, Tokyo – Japan
  7. ^ “Satori in the Right Cortex”, Award - Category: Documentary, Northwest Film and Video Festival, November 15 to 24, 1985, Portland – USA
  8. ^ Mackey, Robert (November 15, 2011). "Occupy Movement Could Declare 'Victory' and Scale Back Camps, Founder Suggests". The Lede. The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  9. ^ Schwartz, Mattathias (2011-12-29). "Pre-Occupied. The origins and future of Occupy Wall Street.". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2011-11-22. 
  10. ^ Goodman, Alana (2011-10-13). "Organizer Behind "Occupy Wall Street" Has History of Anti-Jewish Writing". Commentary. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 

External links[edit]