Here we all are again. Gridlock. For more than a month there have been “Occupy” movements as a reaction to the “Greed” of Corporations. Now the pushback from the Corporations confirms the gridlock with their own mirror antics, such as placing signs in the brokerage house windows reading “WE Are The 1%”. Gosh, what a sorry state of dialogue in my country. Soon, as with all the recent “movements”, in place of gridlock there wlll be the vortex, where these two systems remain seperate and opposed, and there is no movement at all of value to people. All discussion will be lost in this vortex and then media will move onto to the next “Us Vs. Them” gridlock. Such is the way it goes and has always gone.
Now, on the surface, I applaud the people in the street if their basic tenets are born of compassion for the poor and a desire for justice and help for those in need of social services. But at the same time, I remind them that a Pop Culture genius, who knew his America and was both a very good businessman and “revolutionary” Frank Zappa, noted in 1969 that if the demonstrators in the street wanted to end the war in Vietnam, they would find a way to get a job inside the Pentagon and make a change that meant something. Simply put: Rage Against the Machine is a nice phrase; getting inside the machine gracefully and quietly and actually doing something is the powerful and effective way to help people.
That is why today’s demonstrations are comic in the sense that people claiming they are “off the grid” are proud to play a role in the same archetypal Grid power game of “get a policeman mad” and then get processed into the very system they claim to hate. Arrest itself is the best way of negating your function as a demonstrator. If you are spending your days with lawyers and court, how are you helping someone else? The Grid IS the cliche that is being enacted. In an age of computers, why do people need to be in the street to demonstrate anyway? Ah, yes, so that they can be on camera and then inspire the cameras to give power to their adversaries when they get on camera. Such a game. In other words, the more that you hear the name “Wall Street” the more power and attention Wall Street gets.
That is why I announce my movement suggestion of “Occupy Sesame Street”. It is the mind and the heart that need to be off the grid of TV and Movies and News. Sesame Street is where the demonstration should begin. Because for whatever you think, and however much you read Karl Marx or Saul Alinsky or even Steve Jobs and Donald Trump, the inevitable fact is that the contour and the structure of your rebellion has been formed by American Media and the Pop Culture we all have been inculcated with. Until you really know what you are dealing with and who the “enemy” is, there is no reason to demonstrate. If you demonstrate on the “Wall Street is Greedy” trope, then you must be honest about Wall Street’s handy trope that they trot out in return. And that is : President Obama made us take the money. He bailed us out. Which, as we know is certainly not an untrue statement. So to take a role on stage in that very limited play is to essentially do nothing. The problem is deeper than the recent Bailout and the problem is deeper than something as silly as “all businessmen are bad”. The real problem is the war and poverty that we have all become so slient about. We have come to accept the idiotic “the middle class is disappearing” cliche as Ultimate Truth. Geez, if the Middle Class is disappearing, that is certainly more important than ending war or helping poor people. Because…gasp…what can we do without Ron Howard or Steve Carell?
Demonstrator and Wall Streeter alike share ALL values and preconceptions because their ideas have all been formed by American Media, and neither side really wants to look at these values. In America for the last four or five decades there has been the investiture of a new role model that Wall Street and demonstrator alike believe in. And that is the rude, aggro, do-it-all-himself Male who “stands up” and “speaks truth to power”, a particular activity that most assuredly has not been done in nearly 60 years by any American in public. The me-me-me attention seeker for whom career and label is All is the new Hero of both Left and Right. It is the same Image. For the demonstrator, it comes in the form of worhsip of entities such as Michael Moore, Bill Maher, Ariana Huffington, Jon Stewart, Sean Penn. For the Wall Streeter it comes in the form of worhsip for W., Clint Eastwood, Steve Jobs and Ronald Reagan. For both, it is a Grand Delusion. An insipid easy-to-follow club to join wherein thought is closed and case is closed and end of story.
The American people need a clearing of this Us vs. Them duality and the “Come Back Shane” mentality and all the ill that comes of it. Obviously, both cults have run aground: the “my guy is right” proposition is 4th grade and beneath the dignity of all Americans. If you have read Mike Moore and Ann Coulter books, you know well the kindegarten level of the thought that results in their inability to form articulate or sensible sentences. And they are just two of the examples of the cowardly lack of work that informs the movements Left and Right. That is why I say: get out of this gridlock. Instead of the attack: let the demonstrators set up ways and communities that help the needy. To yell a name at a Wall Streeter doesn’t feed anyone: it does not even gain any attention. Because if the demonstrators are assured that Wall Streeters are locked into a world of Self, why would they assume that yelling a name at them is going to gain any positive response? Wall Streeters know they themselves are greedy; that is part of their game. Or more likely they play at the Media version of Greed, just as attorneys like to act like TV attorneys. They are truly proud of being Gordon Gecko–and they learned to be that kind of character from an American movie, or possibly an Ayn Rand novel, and not from anywhere else. Just as the demonstrators learned their “approaches” from Michael Moore and maybe Abbie Hoffman. Though there is certainly no Abbie Hoffman humor this time around.
The way to make change is to make change. The way to make gridlock is to keep up this non-dialogue. The Wall Streeters have even a clearer picture of what works than the Left does. They know, just as I know, the Moores and Huffingtons and their ilk are all happy careerists and nothing else. They too, are Gordon Geckos with a taste for public worship. They know today’s phoney Left has no impact at all. But, they also know full well that the likes of Norman Mailer, Susan Sontag, Gore Vidal, and Hunter Thompson actually stopped the Vietnam War and kicked Nixon out of office. Part of the reason for that effectivenss was that those four people, among other activists of the time, were formed by the world of literature and thought and not the world of the current Pop Culture, which is a straightjacket on the best of days. And Wall Street knows that they are not facing any kind of formidable group like that. They know they are facing powder-puff dingbats like Moore, who in the last decade accomplished….uh……well……..uh………oh, the selling of some product. Whew! Isn’t that the same business Wall Street is in…selling product? Mailer and Vidal put their careers on the line protesting Vietnam. The difference today is that Mike Moore puts you on the line for his career.
So, to take the initial idea of this piece: Occupy Sesame Street! That is where everything begins: in the movies and on televison. If you do not want what you think the Wall Street ethos is, to be your ethos: then you have got to turn off The Godfather as your role model, you have got to turn off Clint Eastwood and Kobe Bryant and Michael Vick and Sean Pean and all the media manifestations of the lone man who will kill for what he wants, or sports idols who are free to commit any crime. The Pop Culture World is the true home of the Greedy People in clear alignment with Greed and the Debasement of the human being. No-one can argue that the products of Hollywood in the last 40 years have been the most lavishly rewarded rip-off garbage and their “1 %’ers” are happy to throw the wool over your eyes and announce their purity. It is even easy to state that the worst CEO on Wall Street does more work than the derivative thieves such as Scorsese and Spielberg have been offering up non-stop. It isn’t a choice to look at this. It is a necessity that will free you of hypocrisy. For every Wall Streeter that the Demonstrators are not giving their money to; you can be sure that they have thrown dollar after dollar at some vapid and inhuman careerist who is laughing his/her ass off at them in Bel Air. Is Wall Street really worse than vulgar garbage that Will Farrell and Jack Black regularly hand to you in your leisure hours? If you camped out on Sean Penn’s property, would his private security be as behaved as the police have been.
The entire Pop Culture since the 60’s serves only one purpose. Division. Divide the once-united audience into smaller and smaller speciality audiences so that more product can be sold. So division and duality and Us vs. Them is part of the media game. To win at that game: express yourself personally and truly to the media. Yes, it is a corny suggestion. Yes, it smacks of being a Boy Scout. But if you blog, you can write an op-ed. If you can speak, write it down as a press release and get it to your local TV station or newspaper. Reach the people in the newsrooms directly. At least, they will be reading and thinking what you believe to be true, and that might set them free. Forget us vs. them. Win the media over to your side.
Occupy Sesame Street. That is the only way. Take a walk through your past and view compassionately and insightfuly what you have learned from media and put it to work. And throw out the Delusional hero worship of careerists. The Left has accomplished nothing in the last decade. The wars still rage, and they seem to be multiplying. Poverty still rages and it seems to be multiplying. Time to use intelligence and compassion and get inside the machine and make it work for humans. You are on Illusion Street if you are occupying Wall Street. Not only that, it is the very place where the money for Michael Moore movies and Green Day cd’s comes from. Sesame Street is where all Americans come from: the TV version of ourselves that we are free to change. Once you make the connection, there is only one choice and that is to help others. Stop fighting. Start helping. Stop demonizing, unless you can exorcise your own demons. Don’t make business-people into something that they are not. Occupy Sesame Street. Exorcise your inner Cookie Monster. It is a good place to start.
Author: Thomas Brennan owns a Positive News PR company and is also an accomplished artist: see www.tombrennanpr.com. He lives in Santa Monica, Ca. and loves America Bona Fides: He defeated Republican Candidate for Governor of California Bill Simon in 2002 by revealing his campaign lies; and also succeeded in getting cat de-clawing outlawed in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.