There’s a lot to say about this Occupy Wall Street protest, as well as its various offshoots, but the fact of the matter is most of the talking is already being done which is exactly the reason why I haven’t felt a need to say much of anything.
And then Kanye West showed up. *Please note the above photo isn’t of him at OWS, it was from this year’s Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival. I’m just proud of my paparazzi skills.
Oh my God Based God, there were so many witty and sarcastic things I wanted to say when I heard that news. Of course I didn’t need to, because the Twitter massive was already doing that for me. But there are some things that necessitate more than 140 characters.
Just so you know what kind of mindstate you’re dealing with, here’s my stance: I dig the core ideals of the Occupy Wall Street protest. As a struggling freelancer going against dwindling budgets and shit, trust me I know. As someone who has been having employment issues outside of my writing work, trust me, I know what they’re fighting for. That being said, I also know what naysayers are getting at. How I look like camping out in a tent in the street when I could be at home blasting out my resume to the job opportunities that are out there? And then there’s the point my mother brought up – it’s getting cold out…why not fill up the tents with the NYC homeless guys and give them a bit of really low-quality shelter? We can’t see who’s in the tents anyway and if it’s power in numbers, why not address two problems at once?
It’s great that people are coming together to speak out against something that really holds weight, and it’s even better that it’s getting the attention it deserves. Maybe some change will come.
But then Kanye West shows up.
Did he roll up in his Maybach? Complex already reported that he showed up in a Givenchy shirt that I’ve also heard has an MSRP of $355. Kanye West is the 1% they are talking about and alienating themselves from. For him to show up is just…it deters from the point. He just dropped, alongside Jay-Z who is arguably the greatest businessman Hip Hop has seen, what is perhaps his most pretentiously wealth-flaunting album we’ve ever seen in the shape of Watch The Throne. It’s a free country, he can show up, but really though?
This just gives me a good opportunity to speak about some of the #OWS flaws.
First of all, #OWS has suspiciously turned into a perfect Stuff White People Like post. In a way it’s advantageous, since that will make it easier to get media coverage since it makes it all slightly more shocking and sanitized all at the same time. When that many white folk are mad, people notice. Think I’m an asshole for saying that? It’s 2011 and Troy Davis is dead. Need I say more? All I know is that I’m broke, I need to get money, and camping out in a tent and holding up signs isn’t about to make me any. How are these people paying their rent? My guess is they’re all the sons and daughters of people with loot or sitting on a hefty heap of savings anyway (so getting arrested and getting your bail posted is light work), in which case I still wonder about how much they have to protest. The other people I know who are truly broke and suffering in this economy haven’t been out there either. Why? We’re too busy hustling our asses off to stay fed. In fact, even being near that area with all the police waiting for an excuse to arrest you or mace you scares me shitless. Even in a good economy a criminal record is going to make it way tougher to get a job. In a shitty one? Fuhgeddaboutit. And good luck browsing those Monster ads with pepper spray in your corneas.
And now it crossed the line and has become too large. It’s an entertainment spectacle now. Blogs are doing “Best Signs From Occupy Wall Street”-style posts, rumors of Radiohead concerts are flying around, and Michael Moore is showing up to mingle in the crowd. Now the media isn’t just covering the protest, they’re monopolizing off of it. The big names are coming out, the page views are rolling in, the advertisers want a piece, and the cycle begins. I also find it a bit backwards when they interview some of these people on TV and they’re all smiling and happy and shit. Protesting isn’t supposed to be happy. Get mad, dammit! And then there’s the obvious – when celebrities like Kanye West come through, it’s basically a slap in the protest’s face. It’s so shitty that 99% of you guys are feeling used, voiceless, poor, and disadvantaged. Excuse me while the paparazzi follow me into the crowd and take pictures of my $350 shirt and my chains. My concerts are still going to cost you a week of your unemployment payments to attend. I love me some Kanye, and I love Watch The Throne, but mixing that with #OWS is just confusing. Watch The Throne gives me delusions of grandeur just by listening to it. #OWS makes me feel even poorer than I already am.
Kanye does have a way with social commentary from time to time (really rare moments here people, but they happen), and if he believes in the movement then I’m all for him showing up and mingling. But do we really believe he relates to this anymore? As a child before he ever made a hit record, maybe. Now? Not so much. If anything Kanye West is the anti-#OWS. He’s proof that even in a craptastic economy, with the right determination, connections, talent, luck, whatever, you can still make it in America. You too can chop up a Maybach one day. You too can criticize our president on T.V. for disliking black people. And you’ll still be paid. And still ultimately pay taxes to the government.
My point? Kanye showed up. So what? He’s not the only celebrity that has undermined the message, or will in the future. I think the 99% could learn a thing or two from people like Kanye. If we paid more attention to how he got to be where he’s at, rather than the price tag on his shirt, maybe our panties wouldn’t be in a collective bunch over him showing up.
I just wish he would have brought Jay-Z with him, so Hov coulda rolled up and said “what’s up, motherfucker, where my money at?” That would have been great.