There are so many metaphors to be found in pop culture’s monsters-of-the-moment—vampires ruthlessly suck the life out of their victims, zombies walk around mindless, killing without bias or reason, witches corrupt our children with their evil ways and then run for congress.
The demonstrators with Occupy Wall Street were encouraged to dress up like “corporate zombies” today while participating in a march in New York’s Financial District.
And zombies aren’t the only pop culture entities making appearances; the usual suspects are all present as well—Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon have both visited along with Russell Simmons, Roseanne Barr and hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco.
In a piece by Entertainment Weekly today, Kate Ward points out that while of course, “a vague protest isn’t a protest until Hollywood jumps on board,” she also asks the question, “at what point does the Hollywood and culture link weaken the cause?”
I’ve posted on this point before in reference to George Clooney and South Sudan’s successful secession—Hollywood’s ability to draw attention to a cause is a tricky line to walk. While it certainly pulls headlines, one must consider (as Ward does) when we start seeing more headlines about the costumes or who attends, than about the protest itself, is Hollywood helping or harming the cause?
Though the occupation is gaining steam, especially after 700 protestors were arrested Saturday on the Brooklyn Bridge, the press has generally looked upon the demonstration negatively, portraying the mostly-young protesters as unorganized and without cause. Something that is, at least in part, true.
Betsy Reed, Executive editor at The Nation, wrote today that the biggest criticism of Occupy Wall Street is in their failure to present demands: “What do these wan, angry young people want, anyway?” But Reed makes a larger point, why is it so important that they ask for demands in the first place?
“Of course, we need policy ideas… But sometimes, you also need a spark. ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ as an idea and an action, is a stroke a brilliance. It’s not poll-tested or focus-grouped, but it expresses perfectly the outrage that is the appropriate response to the maddening political situation we find ourselves in today. It succeeds as symbolic politics: taking back the square is just what we need to do.”
Despite Glenn Beck raving at the fact that Frances Fox Piven and Russell Simmons showed up to “incite the crowd,” warning readers to “prepare to vomit when watching”—”So what are they doing? The neoliberals.” Beck asks, “This is all becoming so very clear. Do you know why they’ve hated us so much? Look at what we have exposed. We have exposed a social justice. We exposed where they are in your churches.”How is Beck not sending out podcasts from a bomb shelter yet?—Occupy Wall Street represents a greater idea. The gesture is indeed symbolic; there’s so much wrong but most people couldn’t tell you why or who is causing it. Rather than going to Washington, protesters went to where they believed the real power was held: Wall Street.
Celebrities, zombies, Robert Pattenson literally turning into a bat and flying down Wall Street—these would all make headlines, but the reason for the occupation itself is clear: America is largely controlled not by the White House or Congress but by those who control the almighty dollar.
(Image credit CNN)
PolitiPop has returned!
Yes indeed, after a few solid weeks of rest and relaxation, travel, and a slew general summer activities, PolitiPop is back and ready to bring you the best in politics and pop culture. Looking back at the news from our time apart its pretty clear — the apocalypse may very well be upon us.
Ok, I’m exaggerating, I don’t believe in Revelation’s, but here’s a few stories from the last couple of weeks that could make one think (wish?) it were the end-of-days:
– Congress and President Obama finally came to a deal on raising the debt ceiling… by leaving the “job creators” (a.k.a the wealthy folks) alone with their cash and slashing federal spending, with the promise that more cuts are to come at the discretion of a Super Committee, where entitlement programs, like Medicare and Social Security, and the defense budget are all on the table.
– Following up the debt deal the U.S. loses its AAA rating from S&P; it’s unfortunate for Obama that this happened on his watch, but with outrage set firmly against the ratings firms (who are said to have botched calculations) and Congress’ petty bickering along party lines, it seems like the blame is being pretty well spread around.
– London’s burning; this is not a reference to The Clash.
– Texas Gov. Rick Perry throws his ten gallon hat into the ring for 2012. Back in June, The Texas Tribune ran a very informative piece detailing why the Republican and frequent First Amendment violator, should not run for president. Why God, why?
– Newsweek ran this extremely horrifying cover featuring Michele Bachmann. No, seriously God, why?
On the upside, if you want to call it that (and I do, I loved the movie), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, grossed over $1.2 billion worldwide, making it the 3rd highest grossing film of all time. Moviegoers flocked to the theaters to watch the wizarding world finally break free from He Who Must Not Be Named, briefly escaping the endlessly depressing news reports inundating every facet of our lives, but our Muggle troubles are nothing compared to what the Ministry of Magic is now facing post-Voldamort. Foreign Policy ran a fascinating piece looking at the long road ahead for the wizarding community.
Finally, I spent last weekend in Chicago, attending the city’s yearly music festival Lollapalooza. Despite the torrential rain and the ankle-deep mud, acts like the Foo Fighters, DeadMau5 and Cold War Kids played on for the dirty-yet-enthusiastic crowds. One performance that stood out was Damien Marley and Nas; their plea for unification was moving especially in the song, “Leaders,” when they asked for all to stand up and lead, not just in politics but in life, singing, “Oh leaders, let’s all change the world.”
And then, I kid you not, a rainbow appeared.
This morning The Donald went on Fox and Friends to explain why he thought congressional Republicans should reject any plan brought to the table by Obama and the Dems: “Frankly the Republicans would be crazy unless they get 100% of the deal that they want right now to make any deal…If this happens, for instance if this stuff is going on prior to an election, he can’t get reelected”
Brian Kilmead pointed out that contrary to Trumps views, recent polls indicate that in the event that the US government should default on August 2, the majority of Americans would blame the Republicans. Trump countered, saying, “… I don’t care about polls. When it comes time to default, they’re not going to remember any of the Republicans’ names. They are going to remember in history books one name, and that’s Obama.”
I find it shocking that The Donald doesn’t care about polls, considering how quickly they dashed his hopes for a presidential bid in 2012. His April lead disappeared a mere ten days after Obama and SNL’s Seth Myers skewered the real estate mogul at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner on April 30. Shortly after dropping to fifth place in a survey taken by Public Policy Polling in May, Trump announced that he would not be running for president in 2012.
Read more at Think Progress.
In America we love our competition reality TV, and with the big showdown coming in 2012, the lead-up to the presidential elections has yet to disappoint. Of course, it’s the GOP we’re all watching; it seems like the field of players grows every week, and every week one of them says or does something that makes you wonder if this whole thing is scripted and the GOP is making a Oscar-worthy documentary, Joaquin Phoenix-style.
One character that’s starting see more screen time is Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Touting his state’s booming economy and job growth, Perry believes that it is his fiscal leadership that has led Texas to recover faster than many other states. In a June appearance on Fox News, Perry claimed that Texas jobs accounted for 48% of the total number of jobs created in the US since April 2009. Politifact found the claim to be neither completely true nor completely false; stats on job creation in Texas are heavily disputed, ranging anywhere from 18% to 54%, depending on the time frame and who you’re talking to.
There’s no denying that Texas’ economy is doing well, but the growth comes at a price; Texas reportedly added over 211,000 jobs in 2010, 76,000 (37%) of which paid at or below minimum wage. In a New York Times Room for Debate discussion, “The Texas Jobs Juggernaut,” editor of The Texas Observer Dave Mann writes,
Texas now leads the nation in minimum-wage workers (550,000 in all). That hasn’t improved our income inequality. Despite the good economy, Texas remains a state of extreme wealth and desperate poverty. The low-tax structure means the state is chronically short of money and, this year, saddled with a huge budget shortfall. Social services and public schools are woefully underfunded. Our graduation rate is low, our dropout rate high. One in four Texans lacks health insurance, by far the highest percentage in the nation.
Mann explains that many of the driving factors of the state’s economic boom—”inexpensive cost of living and low-tax, anti-regulatory policies “—preceded Perry’s arrival to the statehouse and will remain after he’s gone.
What is most fascinating (and disturbing) about Perry singing the praises of his own economic prowess lays in his ultimate plan for fixing the US economy: God.
When speaking to an evangelical group in May, Perry repeated the beloved GOP/Tea Party line that the nation’s current policies are a threat to the founder’s vision of America, saying “Our founding fathers understood that [private property] was a very important part of the pursuit of happiness. Being able to own things that are your own is one of the things that makes America unique. But I happen to think that it’s in jeopardy. It’s in jeopardy because of taxes; it’s in jeopardy because of regulation; it’s in jeopardy because of a legal system that’s run amok. And I think it’s time for us to just hand it over to God and say, “God, You’re going to have to fix this.
Last time I looked, God was not a financial planner, so it doesn’t matter much that Perry thinks he has a direct line to the Almighty ever since He “called” upon the Gov. to help fix America after us damn liberals came in with our crazy socialist ideas, wanting to close the wealth gap and insure all citizens equally. Besides, not even God would be merciful enough to take a cabinet position to fix this mess, as one commenter posted on New York Magazine‘s website in response to Perry’s pronouncement, “God is like, ‘no thanks man, I’m cool.'”