Occupy Earth

// Posted by on 03/25/2013 (1:51 AM)

At first glance, the Occupy Wall Street movement can appear to be an group of angry individuals who were “organized’ under a vague focal point. However, the sheer fact that the Occupy movement’s ideas spread around the world means that this was no small, localized event. Social media helped to unify like-minded individuals, and an outpouring of support “through video, photos, text messages, audio and other messaging using Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other online services” gave the movement “legitimacy.” In order for the movement to build up steam, it needed to become a literal movement, not just a figurative one.

According to the Wall Street Journal in 2011, the spread of the Occupy movement seemed almost “organic.” Copycat organizers studied the New York protests and created their own mini-movements in cities like Chicago and Los Angeles, and they planned these protests via Facebook, Twitter, and other networking websites. This method is a 21st century phenomenon, for protesters are now able to share their grievances and complaints with other individuals instantly through the Internet and gather their own followings. Another interesting feature of the Occupy movement’s spread is the source of the spread. When studying the Vietnam War’s protest movement, some of the biggest and most well-known criticism came from actors, musicians, and artists. Americans latched onto the feelings shared by people they recognized in the news like John Lennon, Allen Ginsberg, and Frank O’Hara, and these celebrities gave the protests a strong backbone.

With Occupy Wall Street, however, the backbone was formed by (mostly young and jobless) Americans who were fed up with corporations paying executives extremely high wages, preventing workers from negotiating better and safer working conditions, etc. Celebrities heard about the movement in the news and then had to decide whether or not they wanted to side with the folks in New York. Some, like musician Tom Morello, Russell Simmons, Alec Baldwin, and Yoko Ono pledged their support (ironic, because they are not members of the “99%”). Simply put, for one of the first times in history, ordinary Americans were taking matters into their own hands and single-handedly forming a movement without any kind of leader or figurehead. They were, collectively, their own figurehead.

This may be one of the biggest reasons why the Occupy Wall Street movement spread like it did. Because the base was made up of the so-called 99%, almost all Americans were included in their movement. They were spreading ideas that millions of people understood and were against, and this is what unified people form around the world. It may have started out as a relatively small gathering in a park in New York City, but the ideas the protestors shared were significant enough to reverberate across the globe.

Here’s a brief video showing various movie stars being asked about their thoughts on the movement. What do you think? Should they not be allowed to “support” the Occupy Wall Street movement because of their “1%” standing, or are their voices needed to give legitimacy to the protester’s cause? I personally don’t think the protesters need any big names or stars to support the movement because, in many ways, that sort of thing can actually undermine what the movement is standing for.


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Celia said...

I really like your points throughout this post, especially the notion that Occupy required physical movement rather than just some social media action. With regard to your last concern, I think that it is okay to have celebrity endorsements about the movement. Whether it is a “publicity stunt” or not is a different argument, but I think that it speaks to someone in the “1%” that actually sides with the 99%. With that in mind, someone that from the other side “supporting” the other side would require some sort of citable evidence that he/she has contributed something – either through a donation, press release, participation in an event; anything to show that it’s not just words, but also actions. To me, the Occupy movement was all about action and people from both the 99% and the 1% should be held to that same value.

// 03/25/2013 at 6:52 pm