Today, we look back at the early years of The Baffler, a literary journal which was published out of Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood for more than 20 years. Praised for its critiques of mass media and business culture, The Baffler came from a strong “do it yourself” ethic inspired by punk rock music and the advent of personal computers, which helped move cultural production out of the hands of big businesses and into the hands of everyday people.
In this 1993 interview, Thomas Frank, founder and editor of The Baffler, offers up critiques of mass media and advertising that remain surprisingly relevant to the world of today, where advancements in technology make it easier than ever for people to create and distribute their own art and culture, while at the same time, corporate advertising has become even more pervasive.
In 2011, Tom Frank sold The Baffler to John Summers, who moved the journal over to MIT Press in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is published three times a year in both print and digital formats. Frank is the author of several books, including the influential “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” and is currently a columnist for Harper’s Magazine.
This video is yet another new find from our Chicago Slices camera original collection. Shot by Jim Morrissette and Matthew Palm, it was never edited or used until now. We have been digitizing these previously unseen Chicago-based videotapes through the support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, and generous people like you.
Watch the full 1993 video inside Baffler headquarters at Media Burn Archive.