What is #piratepartyusa?

What is #piratepartyusa?

In the early hours of August 18, two images started making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, and other parts of the Internet.

The two images were both part of the same advertisement found in the then-latest issue of Adbusters, a Canadian magazine and non-profit organization that bills itself as, “a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators, and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age.”

One side of the ad had a white background and featured a blue Pepsi can with an image of an elephant on it (the symbol of the Republican Party) and a red Coca-Cola can with an image of a donkey on it (the symbol of the Democratic Party). Above the two cans was the statement, “Can you taste the difference?” Below the two cans was the statement, “America’s political system is dominated by two brands and 99% of blind taste testers can’t tell the difference.

Below this was the Twitter hashtag #piratepartyusa.

The next page of the ad featured a blue background. At the top of the page was the hashtag #piratepartyusa. Below it, under two paragraphs of text, was a skull and crossbones, reminiscent of the Jolly Roger flag.

The text reads:

Our skull & Crossbones will pop up everywhere… every Mitt and Barack poster, every lawnsign will have a blackspot… our videos will go viral and our 30-second mindbombs will detonate on CNN, MTV, and FOX. Pirate mayhem will engulf both conventions.

Between now and November, we will create a ruckus bigger than any ruckus America has ever seen before. We will occupy this election with our revolutionary third party meme. We will let America know the Coke/Pepsi Challenge is over and 4 years from now there will be a third choice. This is a mutiny for a new America. Will you join us?

Below this is a website link, to piratepartyusa.org. Then, as now, this link takes a visitor to a separate link which features nothing more than a list of Occupy Wall Street events. OWS was created by Adbusters.

As the chairman of the Florida Pirate Party, I was interested. One of the main worries I had was that laypeople might view their message and misinterpret it as our message. One of the last things I wanted was for the Department of Elections (and others) to knock on my door asking why it seemed as though we were trying to incite a hostile takeover of the country and possibly threatening to bomb several television stations (does anyone even watch MTV anymore?).

Naturally, myself, as well as several other people trying to kick start the Pirate Party in the United States were wary. What was Adbusters’ ultimate goal?

To that end, I contacted Adbusters via several contact addresses on August 18th. A few days later, on August 23rd, I received a reply from a person named Erin Flegg who said the following:

Adbusters’ interest lies more in the concepts behind pirate parties, primarily those of the original European organizations, and bringing them together with ideas behind North American green politics. The idea is to push for a unified, “Blue-Green” party. I’ve included a link to a recent piece on our website that goes into a little more detail.

Glad to see the message is getting out,

Erin Flegg

The linked blog post did nothing to further explain this “Blue-Green” party. So on August 28th, I sent a reply stating that I did not fully understand. It is currently the middle of September and I have yet to receive a response, nor has anything else materialized on the Adbusters side of things.

Fearful of losing the overall Pirate Party message to these interlopers, the New York Pirate Party, Florida Pirate Party, and others began trying to “hijack the hijack” and started using the #piratepartyusa hashtag to redirect those who had seen the Adbusters ad toward our cause.

The main point of contention among Pirates in the US regarding this is the fact that we were left in the dark while an outsider organization decided to start a campaign using our name without even telling us first. Since it has been several weeks since Adbusters has started this campaign and has not moved forward with any kind of further material, have they abandoned this campaign?

Lindsay-Anne Brunner, leader of the New York Pirate Party had this to say, “Two minutes of research on their part would have led them to our site and information; why were we not informed of this ‘campaign’ prior to launch? This appears to be nothing more than haphazard work on their end, or they don’t care about results after they’ve launched their ‘meme campaigns.’”

Is Adbusters trying to create their own Pirate Party in the United States? If so, why supersede all of the pre-existing US Pirate Parties? While the Florida and Massachusetts Pirate Parties are officially registered within their states, there are far more smaller Pirate Parties in the US that are working toward gaining traction. Wouldn’t it be easier to link up with those who are already trying to gain traction in their respective states and also work toward initiating progress in the states that do not currently have a Pirate Party?

Of course, there is a silver lining in all of this. Adbusters does have the ability to reach many people via their website and magazine. Nearly every day since these images started making the rounds, the #piratepartyusa hashtag has been seen, and shared, by many people and organizations. People have been following the various Pirate Party Twitter feeds and Facebook groups. Our numbers have been growing stronger with each passing day. So no matter what Adbusters’ ultimate goal is, we have benefited; are still benefiting. And that’s not a bad thing.

All pictures by: Adbusters