Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

media. music. feminism. food. city-dwelling. story-telling. and other things.

Scattered Thoughts on Occupy Wall Street’s ‘Media Problem’

with one comment

Here is what I’ve been reading about Occupy Wall Street. Here are my few observations:

1. There is no meaningful sartorial difference these days between “hippies” and “hipsters.” Just so we’re all clear on that.

2. Most of the people quoted are ridiculous. It almost seems the media coverage is tailor-made to make us hate them, but unfortunately I think the most plausible answer—rather than widespread media conspiracy—is that this is how the majority of these people really are and sound. To speak like a cowboy or a politician for a moment: Let’s call a spade a spade, okay?

2.5 What is funny is that, were this a conservative protest, all parties involved—its participants, its mercenaries, its political cheerleaders—would have the Lamestream Liberal Media to blame, to explain away how uninformed its participants come across. Mainstream liberals can’t really avail themselves of that excuse.

2.51 They could, of course, make a point about how most media is owned by corporations who have a vested interest in preserving the status quo, or the natural biases of reporters and bloggers at traditional (and by that, I mean anything outside the super-lefty indie press) media outlets, even those like Mother Jones and NPR. I find these arguments unconvincing, but they could be made …

2.52 In fact, I feel like a lot of people in the press are going out of their way to *try* and find some coherence, some meaning in all of this.

2.54  It is of course impossible for me or you (providing you are not there) to know whether media outlets really are cherry-picking quotes and protestors to paint a certain narrative picture. If anything, I find it likely that reporters’ natural biases run more against anyone appearing to be a dreaded Hipster (hippie) than anyone appearing to have a legitimate complaint with United States power structures. If there’s one thing we all hate more than Wall Street bankers, or at least that The Media hates more, it’s hipsters. The second more likely bias would be the Bias of the Narrative (in general), I think.

2.55 Luckily, there is a lot of ‘citizen media’ available these days. A cursory glance of said citizen media does not reveal a significantly different narrative than that being reported by corporate reporters.

3. Panning the inane or misguided complaints of uninformed protestors is not the same as rejecting the very premise that there are legitimate complaints to be made about some of the issues they’re allegedly protesting. It is not to say there are no smart, informed people there. It is not to say that even the not-smart, not-informed people there don’t possibly have legitimate reasons for anger. For the record.

4. As much as my 12-year-old heart desired to go back in time and be an establishment-protesting hippie with flowers in my hair, I would have sucked at it. I could have worn those flowers damn well, though.

5. The Occupy Wall Street protestors do not sound any more misguided, insipid, etc., than your average Tea Partier. Their contempts and complaints and scapegoats are vastly different, sure, but no more or less reactionary or vacuous, and certainly no more or less coherent. But—and I am really taking a page from my boyfriend’s blog here on this one, but one of his favorite complaints rings quite true to me here—whereas many not-insipid liberals have criticized these Occupy Wall Street protestors, have in fact publicly cringed at their Greatest Hits of Liberal Demands, their incoherant babbling, their hypocrisy — whoa to the few not-insipid conservatives who did the same with tea partiers! No matter how vacous, rascist, whatever tea partiers sounded, a lot of mainstream conservatives lept to their defense. Maybe not to defend every indinvidual thing they said—some of it needed to be cleaned up a little bit for media consumption, some swept under the proverbial rug. But still, conservative leaders were enthusiastic about framing this as part of a larger story about citizens fed up, citizen uprising, etc. Liberals are not clamoring to do the same with the Occupy Wall Street kids. You can say one is the more desirable position for party mainstreams to take—I could make a case for either position, which means I will not make a case for either. But I think the difference is marked.

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Written by Elizabeth

September 28, 2011 at 9:36 am

One Response

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  1. I completely agree with you here. I think a lot of the problem has to do with the fact that, to your first point, everybody automatically painted the protesters as hipsters/hippies and discounted them based on that fact. I just wrote up a post about it that you may find interesting: http://thehipstereffect.com/2011/10/03/judge-protesters-by-values-not-clothes/

    Sophy Bot

    October 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm


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