Thursday, April 3, 2014

Op-Ed Communiqués vol. 4 - Occupy wasn’t a costume party...

Have you paid attention to the commercials since Occupy? It’s been two years, more than enough time for the ads to start singing some familiar tunes.

Dissent, revolution, revolt. Seeking a better world—seeking a better today. Constant crisis; revolution as the subtext. The game is changing. They’re done mocking us; now they want us bad.

In 5-10 years, we’ll start seeing ourselves on TV shows, but if we haven’t changed our tune by then it’ll probably be too late.

It means we’re winning, but it also means that the game has shifted. We’ve flipped all their pieces, but one wrong step and they’ll flip them all right back. They’re on the front foot now, so we need to anticipate their choices, re-focus and press our advantage into unexpected spaces.

They want to make the trappings of our dissent sexy—the gardens, the protests, the anti-work, the DIY, the culture jam, the joyous resistance—because sexy dissent is safe, like a costume party. Like a vaccine against the future, they give those images to mainstream culture before it catches our disease.

That’s why I see Occupy kids in the soda commercials these days, dripping with sex and freedom, all bandanas and compassion and sincerity. But why are we all driving Hondas, using MacBooks and drinking Diet Coke?

All the money in the world and you can buy yourself a Senator, you can even buy yourself an orgasm, but you can’t buy Congress’ approval rating past 10 percent.

The culture’s jammed—we won. It doesn’t know itself any more. It doesn’t trust any of its leaders. The culture shift has finally hit a tipping point, falling into varying forms of madness and cognitive dissonance roiling under the placid, exhausted surface. Baby boomers in adult diapers shaking their fists on the porch are the only semblance of integrity the old guard has left. The rest are ripe to adopt a new normal.

This is our world now. We’ve fought for it. We’ve stood by it. We’ve earned it. We’re the most passionate people we know. Imagine if we got respectable. Imagine if we lived as if we wanted to conserve the humanistic, creative, anti-authoritarian, anti-oppressive memes we’ve spent so many years building.

How can the destroyers grab a foothold when the new normal doesn’t want them? They want to shut down our cultural gravity, but they can’t hit a moving target. They think we’re just our trappings, the anti-capitalist branding, but we’re more than that greenwashed, blackwashed, bluewashed bullshit they make so sexy on TV.

Don’t be seduced. Don’t let others be fooled. That’s not you on the screen. It isn’t anybody.

Let’s walk our walk in a completely new yet familiar direction, eyes fixed not on the path but toward the horizon, and we’ll fuck up their whole paradigm before they can use the tools of media myth-making to take the game back.