Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Artist views: Support for Occupy movement, opposition understood?

*This article was originally published by the Viễn Đông on 15 November 2011. It was reported by Vanessa White.


LONG BEACH, California—The Occupy Movement has become fuel for artists, some of them seeking support for critiques that have awaited recognition.
J. Mal, a vocalist for the Long Beach based rock/hip-hop band MDMF, told the Viễn Đông his group created a song called, “Money Spent,” prior to the Occupy Movement, hoping to get people to think about what they spend their money on and why.
“I support it,” J. Mal said of the Occupy Movement, adding that he considers himself a part of a lower class, the 99 percent.
The Occupy Movement is an international movement that started in New York City (NYC) and San Francisco in September 2011. 
It was inspired by the “Arab Spring,” protests that started in Middle East and North African countries earlier this year, resulting in the end of decades-long dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt.
Protesting social and economic inequality, the Occupy protesters consider themselves to be in the 99 percent of society that is oppressed by the 1 percent corporate elite.
“If I was in that position, I would be blind just like them,” J. Mal said, trying to understand the mindset of the 1 percent. “They’re so used to having so much.”
There are some people, like hip-hop mogul and businessman Mr. Russell Simmons, who have openly supported the 99 percent. However, most of the elite class has ignored the protesters calls for perceived equality.
“You’re that rich,” J. Mal said. “You can’t even spread the wealth?”
Journalist, unlikely supporter
In its coverage of the Occupy Movement, specifically the Occupy Wall Street encampment at NYC’s Zuccotti Park, mainstream media discredits the protesters as lacking a clear agenda, journalist, blogger, and author Mr. Robert Schiffman wrote in the Huffington Post.
He wrote that mainstream media reporters have visited the encampment with “preconceived ideas,” about the movement. Rather than listening to what the protesters were really saying, the media has set out to label and stereotype the protesters.
“What really ticks the media-cracy off, one suspects, is not that the Occupiers lack a coherent message, but that it won't fit into an eight second sound bite,” he wrote. “It won't even fit into a political platform, because it is not just about taking positions and articulating agendas. It is bigger than that.”
He continued, writing that the Occupy Movement is about everyone’s long felt economic difficulties, as well as spiritual collapse within the United States. Such a message will not likely come from the mainstream media.
“Unlike earlier protests, which looked to the press to get the word out, the Occupiers depend more on their own social media and networking,” Mr. Schiffman wrote. “They may be the first mass movement in history that has been able to bypass the press and frame their own message in their own terms.”
Plus, by framing their own message without “a list of fixed positions and proposals,” the 99 percent can make sure the 1 percent doesn’t have an easy target, Mr. Schiffman wrote. The movement is more open-minded.
A picture paints a thousand words
One of the most open-minded aspects of the Occupy Movement is the photography capturing the many perspectives attached to the images.
The group Street Art Utopia, whose motto is, “We declare the world as our canvas,” features a collection of photographs from the Occupy Movement protests on its website.
Some of the photographs are taken by independent news groups, while others are taken by individuals who feel the mainstream news media is not accurately reporting the movement’s message.
Many of the photos are images of protesters holding up signs like, “Did you lose your home? Wall Street stole it from you,” and “If only the war on poverty was a real war, then we would actually be putting money into it.”
One photograph, taken at Occupy London, displays an image of the Monopoly character sitting on top of a Monopoly board, his hat slightly extended out as though he is begging for money.
Monopoly is a board game, where the aim is for one person to gain as much in imaginable assets as they can, thus having a “monopoly” or domination over the board and declared the winner.
The image, created by Banksy, a London based graffiti artist and political activist, suggests that the dominating class, represented by banks and corporations, is seeking a handout.
Such a handout appears to be at the expense of the 99 percent.
Artist info
To listen to MDMF’s “Money Spent,” visit online at http://www.reverbnation.com/mdmf.
To view Street Art Utopia’s collection of photos on the Occupy Movement, visit online at http://www.streetartutopia.com/?p=4334.

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