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They dance and eat as they steal.
July 31, 2005 4:30 PM   Subscribe

They dance and eat as they steal. Yomango, a counter-but-consumerist-culture of shoplifting, surfaced July 2002 in Spain. It's shoplifting as a movement—taught in workshops, choreographed, organized as missions, and executed with prankish gusto on three continents. Why? One, it's civil disobedience that believes stealing to stay alive should be permitted. Two, it takes back what once belonged to everyone. Three, there's humor in it, even with the communistic undertones and its little red book. Discussion: Dark Matter, Las Agencias, and the Aesthetics of Tactical Embarrassment. A Poliedric Debate On Collabora Art. ¿Lo quieres?¿Lo tienes? (Spanish). More about Yomango: Ten Style Tips for a Yomango Life. A gallery of promos, news, and event photos. Yomango fashion show. Yomango tango. Yomango dinner.
posted by Mo Nickels (46 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
...a counter-but-consumerist-culture of shoplifting, surfaced July 2002 in Spain. It's shoplifting as a movement—taught in workshops, choreographed, organized as missions, and executed with prankish gusto on three continents.

The first rule of Shoplifting Club is that you don't talk about Shoplifting Club.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:36 PM on July 31, 2005


It's true that our society has become about consumerism, and that the choice of spending your money on one thing versus another is not really a choice, but is stealing the items instead really the answer? How about creating home made versions instead to avoid the consumer/name brand society all together? The Yomango website says "Capitalism sneakily manages to create needs that are then costly (in every sense) for us to satisfy. Don't renounce your desires: just don't let the market determine how you manage them." How about realizing that many of those "needs" are only "wants," and that you don't need them at all. Renounce the desires that capitalism has falsely created. Not only is this better for your pocketbook, but it's good for the environment. Maybe I am missing the point, but Yomango does not seem like a sound movement to me.
posted by nyc stories at 4:54 PM on July 31, 2005


Winona Ryder se alía con Mao en una protesta anticonsumista.

"Winona Ryder allied herself with Mao in an anticonsumerist protest"

Heehee.
posted by Bugbread at 4:54 PM on July 31, 2005


nyc stories: you hit the nail on head.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 4:55 PM on July 31, 2005


..."the head," i mean.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 4:55 PM on July 31, 2005


Well. That's weird.

Seems like it could get the people 'promoting' it into a huge pile of legal shit. I mean, dosn't spain have Anti-conspiracy laws?
posted by delmoi at 5:04 PM on July 31, 2005


MetaFilter: It's like Yomango without the dancing and eating and stealing.
posted by wendell at 5:07 PM on July 31, 2005


This is sophistry at best, and anti-social lawbreaking behavior disguised as political protest at worst.

I propose a counter-movement that consists of whacking shoplifters over the head with baseball bats while reciting some leftist philosopher's viewpoint about violence being purely a product of "the media".
posted by kcds at 5:13 PM on July 31, 2005


My guess is performance art.
posted by Bugbread at 5:17 PM on July 31, 2005


How about realizing that many of those "needs" are only "wants," and that you don't need them at all.

Depends on what you're stealing. I think their justifications for stealing things that advertisers tell us we need are, well, absurd. They should concentrate on the basics: stealing money and food. I mean, if you have no marketable skills, or can't find a job, are you supposed to simply die? Utilitarians need not respond. :)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:20 PM on July 31, 2005


Trust fund babies try to convince themselves that their morally anemic little lives are 'edgy.' They make fancy web sites about it and right manifestos whilst congratulation one another on how 'liberated' they are. Meanwhile, the guy who's actually homeless and slips a Snickers bar into his pocket will still go to jail and these tools still won't give a fuck. News at eleven.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 5:38 PM on July 31, 2005


s/right/write
posted by IshmaelGraves at 5:39 PM on July 31, 2005


Yomango to jail.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:39 PM on July 31, 2005


What Civil_Disobedient said.

While it was more fun to get away with it than to get caught, as a teenaged runaway i shoplifted to survive. When I got busted in Berkeley in 1978 it was over a pair of bootlaces, a small bag of dried figs, and a bottle of shampoo. I don't have anything against overprivileged kids who shoplift for thrills, except they shouldn't whine if they get caught -- I didn't (but I did grumble a bit).

And no, I didn't run away from home for the adventure. I escaped from a juvenile detention center because it was painful.
posted by davy at 6:00 PM on July 31, 2005


i guess Abbie Hoffman lives. hurrah, if only because the world could use more Abbie Hoffmans. like about a hundred.

How about realizing that many of those "needs" are only "wants," and that you don't need them at all. Renounce the desires that capitalism has falsely created. Not only is this better for your pocketbook, but it's good for the environment. Maybe I am missing the point, but Yomango does not seem like a sound movement to me.

i agree with you wholeheartedly and earnestly. however, i think your humor dial needs to be turned up a tick or two. i doubt very much that these folks are buried in third-car-garage loads of chinese made plastic crap like my parents' neighbors.

I propose a counter-movement that consists of whacking shoplifters over the head with baseball bats while reciting some leftist philosopher's viewpoint about violence being purely a product of "the media".

yeah. cuz shoplifters should die. right. woo-hoo. the list of capital punishment via vigilante justice just grows and grows. i so love america.


Meanwhile, the guy who's actually homeless and slips a Snickers bar into his pocket will still go to jail and these tools still won't give a fuck. News at eleven.

yes, so everyone should always be grim because Les Miserables is all too true, right? no laughing. it makes the little baby jesus cry.
posted by RedEmma at 6:42 PM on July 31, 2005


i see nyc stories' point, but couldn't one see shoplifting as a naturally capitalist endeavor?

i don't shop at the huge, centrally-planned economies that pop up in strip malls, but, for the people that do, isn't shoplifting just a way of reclaiming a consumers' ability to negotiate prices?
posted by eustatic at 6:43 PM on July 31, 2005


My problem with shoplifting as any sort of political message is that it's just another form of consumerism, but without limits. When you shoplift, anything you can get away with is something you can own and that's a very negative mind set to have.
posted by dial-tone at 6:48 PM on July 31, 2005


see also
posted by eustatic at 6:50 PM on July 31, 2005


cuz shoplifters should die.

That's not what they said.
posted by dial-tone at 6:50 PM on July 31, 2005


see also evasion
posted by eustatic at 6:50 PM on July 31, 2005


When you shoplift, anything you can get away with is something you can own and that's a very negative mind set to have

i think the political message is that this is exactly the attitude of multinational corporations.

steal a chocolate bar, and you're a thief
rob a bank, and you're a criminal
steal Cochabamba's water, and you're the most envied corporation the world over
posted by eustatic at 6:57 PM on July 31, 2005


Seems like it could get the people 'promoting' it into a huge pile of legal shit.

The student guild at a Perth university got in major do-do for doing such a thing in the campus newspaper. I think it was the actual students involved, not the guild, who eventually got prosecuted. Or at least threatened with prosecution.

What made them extra hard core (stupid?), is that the cops got wind of it and they were officially warned prior to publication, but they went ahead and printed it anyway.

I can't for the life of me find a link, which is strange coz it was fairly big news at the time. I think this was the newspaper in question (link to homepage, not offending edition).
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:07 PM on July 31, 2005



i think the political message is that this is exactly the attitude of multinational corporations.


True, but it's better not to emulate that attitude then.

I could be wrong about this, but shoplifting hurts retailers more than it hurts the multinationals (except for multinational retailers), because once the item is in the store, the store is going to have to pay for it.
posted by dial-tone at 7:21 PM on July 31, 2005


once the item is in the store, the store is going to have to pay for it.

This is why one should not steal from small mom-&-pop stores if one can avoid it. But I have no such sympathy for Wal-Mart.
posted by davy at 7:35 PM on July 31, 2005


one should not steal from small mom-&-pop stores if one can avoid it

If one can avoid it?
posted by IndigoJones at 7:40 PM on July 31, 2005


Yomango to jail.

Genius!
posted by Satapher at 7:43 PM on July 31, 2005


did anyone have any serial shoplifter friends in college? I knew a group of girls that made it a daily mission to steal wine and food from a ratty ol' budget supermarket
posted by Satapher at 7:47 PM on July 31, 2005


As a fashion statement, Yomango has many of the same compelling features as Gangsta Rap - it's rebellious, outlaw, sure to be found repulsive by parents and other "establishment" members, and has the attraction of personal wealth enhencement (even more so than for the average adherent to the Gangsta Rap lifestyle). So it is easy to imagine this lifestyle choice become a durable part of modern culture.

As an economic/philosophical/socioligical statement it is pure stupid tripe. They appear to think they can effect change by stealing from corporations. What they ignore is that corporations exist purely because they are able to organize people and material in a way that creates more wealth than these same people could otherwise manage on their own. Stealing from such an organization merely reduces the amount of wealth amplification, causing the price of their products to rise. The net effect is that they're stealing from later purchasers of these products, or, in the extreme case where the amplification is reduced to zero, from the people who formerly composed the corporation and who are now without a job.
posted by gregor-e at 7:54 PM on July 31, 2005


Yo' mangos so fat....
posted by cpchester at 8:58 PM on July 31, 2005


Me: "[O]ne should not steal from small mom-&-pop stores if one can avoid it.

IndigoJones: "If one can avoid it?"

Not everybody is fortunate enough to have a Wal-Mart or a Macy's nearby, and sometimes having to walk or ride public transit makes getting away with the purloined goods problematic. But on principle, yes, it's always better to steal from the big chains than small shops -- and besides the big chains have more stuff.

And gregor-e, should they simply loot the Wal-Mart and then burn it? Or are you proposing, as I would, the abolition of the corporations? Or do you mean that the wonderful and necessary corporations must be protected from hoi pilfering polloi? (I suspect the latter, but then I'm tired.)

And no, of course I don't think that stealing is always wrong.
posted by davy at 9:16 PM on July 31, 2005


Linguistic aside: In Spanish slang "Yo mango" means "I pilfer".

Anyway, a bunch of spoiled brats dreams up a faux-rebellious philosophy to justify their thieving ways. Big news, never happened before...
posted by Skeptic at 11:11 PM on July 31, 2005


> sometimes having to walk or ride public transit makes
> getting away with the purloined goods problematic

There are other real advantages as well: losses come directly off Mom and Pop's bottom line, so in my experience. they are much likely to be more careful about watching their stock and keeping an eagle eye on those of us likely to purloin it.

Staff at Walmart, in contrast, often feel some resentment at the way they are being screwed by the company, so they're often happy to see someone walking away with the goods, and are rarely likely to risk a pop on the nose to protect them.

> I think their justifications for stealing things that
> advertisers tell us we need are, well, absurd

Their justifications may be absurd -- that doesn't particularly bother me. However, there's a certain poetic irony about people who buy into the advertisers inculcation of artificial desire so totally that they believe they have to steal to feed that desire. This is precisely the same sort of engine that feeds so much underclass crime (ie, the belief that I'm nothing and nobody unless I'm wearing certain designer labels), so I do see a certain symmetry in the idea that a quasi-political movement -- no matter how naive and inarticulate -- emerges out of the artificial desire that corporations and advertisers have done so much to nurture.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:11 AM on August 1, 2005


uncanny hengeman, google brings up this, suggesting that it was Murdoch Uni voting to reprint an article from Melbourne's La Trobe University.
posted by different at 2:05 AM on August 1, 2005


Davy: "[O]ne should not steal from small mom-&-pop stores if one can avoid it.

IndigoJones: "If one can avoid it?"


Forgive me, the phrase struck me as really very funny. Every day millions of people the world over, many in worse straits than yours past or present, do manage to avoid it, whether from self respect, respect for law and order, common decency, hope for better things to come. They, or at least the ones I've known, tend away from your kind of Dickensian bitter. As a result, they are, to me at least, more awe inspiring. They make me want to be a better person.

As to the subject at hand, I'm always struck by self indulgence masking as a protest gesture. As with illegal downloading, practicioners have to style itself as a strike against The System because you can hardly claim that you'll simply die without Madonna's latest offering.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:59 AM on August 1, 2005


Jesus, I'm amazed to see so many people here taking this so seriously. C'mon, can't you see that having workshops and a manifesto pretty much means that it has to be a joke? Sure, no doubt some of these people are artfully shoplifting, but this is so obviously a goof.
But hey, go back to your haughty dismissals and your complaints over their "absurd" justifications. (Of course they're absurd. That's why it's funny. Jesus.)
posted by klangklangston at 8:49 AM on August 1, 2005


Oh, and great post, by the way.
posted by klangklangston at 8:49 AM on August 1, 2005


C'mon, can't you see that having workshops and a manifesto pretty much means that it has to be a joke?
Er, why does it have to be any more a "joke" than the Black Bloc's pseudo-intellectual justifications for vandalism and thuggery?
posted by Goedel at 9:18 AM on August 1, 2005


Goedel: Does the Black Bloc encourage dancing as they riot? Do they encourage an artistry to violence?
If you can't tell the difference between this and Black Bloc, I'm afraid that you might not be very sophisticated and might want to stay away from manifestos in general.
(Or "Why is the manifesto of Situationalism, which encourages vandalism, different from the Communist Manifesto, which encourages the destruction of the state through armed conflict?")
posted by klangklangston at 9:33 AM on August 1, 2005


All the best jokes make a serious point, klangklangston. That's what makes them amusing, rather than merely pointless.

The yomango meme is amusing because it reminds us of what we already know in our hearts: that brand-name goods are worthless crap, and there's no need to pay for them.
posted by cleardawn at 9:58 AM on August 1, 2005


cleardawn : "All the best jokes make a serious point, klangklangston. That's what makes them amusing, rather than merely pointless."

In my experience, the best jokes are the ones unburdened by serious points. That's what makes them amusing, rather than didactic.
posted by Bugbread at 11:06 AM on August 1, 2005


dial-tone wrote:

"That's not what they said."

hitting someone over the head with a baseball bat is quite clearly a potentially murderous act, and one that often results in death. in fact, it is more likely to kill or maim than not.

yeah, so, i wouldn't recommend it for shits and giggles. Yomango on the other hand--well, that's up to you.
posted by RedEmma at 1:55 PM on August 1, 2005


Bugger. Thanks for the heads-up, different. And thanks for the link to Google, ya smartass.

I guessed the university wrong and that was a parameter in all my attempted searches. Hence me having no luck. I coulda sworn it was ECU, not Murdoch.

I've made similar mistakes before. All in all a good reminder on correct Googling strategies.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:46 PM on August 1, 2005


IndigoJones, you will of course understand why I, a left anarchist, don't care very much for the argument that "Breaking the law is illegal!"

And please, don't preach about "self-respect" and "common decency" when the effect of those tropes is to reinforce subjugation; I could just as well claim that no self-respecting poor person should pass up a chance to steal from a big corporation that gets rich by contradicting common decency. This would indeed boil down to slightly more than me pointing to "definition 1" while you emphasize "definition 2", unless of course you think that the American colonists should have had the common decency and self-respect to follow the laws of their God-given King and Parliament, or that a self-respecting slave should have had the common decency to not deprive his master of his property by running away. That's the problem with conservative defenses of propriety: at what point does one start the clock -- and which people do you count as "human"?

So while I might agree about "those bratty and/or spoiled kids", I consider them at the very worst the lesser evil. And if choosing the lesser evil is not what America is all about, why do we have elections between politicians?
posted by davy at 10:27 PM on August 2, 2005 [1 favorite]


"If you can't tell the difference between this and Black Bloc, I'm afraid that you might not be very sophisticated and might want to stay away from manifestos in general."
It seems your definition of "sophisticated" is "stealing other people's property and making up bullshit pseudo-intellectual rationalizations to justify it", in which case, yes, I'm not "sophisticated", nor do I want to be.

If you participate in "yomango", you aren't some uber-cool protestor against "capitalism", you are a thief, period, and you deserve to be treated like one.
"The yomango meme is amusing because it reminds us of what we already know in our hearts: that brand-name goods are worthless crap, and there's no need to pay for them."
Bullshit! If they're "worthless crap", why do you want these goods badly enough to steal them? What a ridiculous excuse to indulge in antisocial narcissism.
posted by Goedel at 12:35 PM on August 18, 2005


Goedel: I believe brand name goods are worthless crap, while you, perhaps, do not. Neither of us would steal them.

"Antisocial narcissism" to my mind is a good description of the whole brand-marketing culture.
posted by cleardawn at 4:33 PM on August 20, 2005


Goedel: "If you participate in "yomango", you aren't some uber-cool protestor against "capitalism", you are a thief, period, and you deserve to be treated like one."

Right on! And we should cut their hands off, goddamnit! Then fire 'em outta a rocket into the sun! That'll show 'em that there's nothing funny about threatening private property rights, buncha commie fags! We take this shit seriously! U! S! A! U! S! A!
posted by klangklangston at 11:35 AM on August 21, 2005


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