Curious about the current issues of the Occupy movement? Check out this article in The Stranger to learn about the repercussions of the May Day protests in Seattle.
Times Magazine declared the Protester as the person/people of the year. That article and the issue cover, by our dear Shepard Fairey, created heaps of hype in the blogoshpere. From criticisms to stalking the protester whose face graces the magazine, it has certainly been an eventful ride. But, the image and the Times article actually offers a decent portrait of the OWS movement.
Upon first seeing the image, I was interested in its lack of specificity. The original image, shot by Ted Soqui of LA Weekly, captures Sarah Mason, a LA protester who has been arrested for her efforts. The collage images, however, represent various protests from around the world, including Egypt and Russia. Fairey and Time Magazine, which provided the collage images for Fairey to use, are saying that OWS isn’t just about the US. It is a global movement.
Moreover, the article explains that the various global protests are a network. Connected, however loosely. Greece was inspired by los Indignados of Spain. The Wall Street starters learned from other protests. It all started in the Arab World. For OWS, the original email from Adbusters called for a Tahir Square for the US. (Abouzeid) In an interview with the Huffington Post, Fairey says of the collage background:
With the Time cover I wanted to capture the spirit of defiance that any protester must possess in the face of arrest or worse. To convey that the cover was about worldwide protests I created a collage of protests from around the globe that is used tonally in the background. I’m a supporter of Occupy, but I thought it was important to recognize that protest was a global phenomenon this year. I think the collage helps to put across that cumulative effect.
But there are problems with the image as well. Again (I seem to talk about this in all my posts), Richin’s idea of Hyperphotography becomes a problem. The seemingly unending curiosity of human beings has turned the anonymous protester featured on the cover into Sarah Mason, about whom you may learn way too much information via LA Weekly’s blog. Part of me doesn’t want to link the page out of respect for the woman’s privacy, but part of me realizes that is a citation faux-pax.
Is this LA protester the face of all protesters worldwide? Maybe, maybe not. No, her credit card debt fueled protesting isn’t the reason that Los Indignados became frustrated, but she is an average woman seeking her frustrations. Fairey says in a Times tumblr post “A lot of [the protesters] are just regular folks who feel dissatisfied.” That certainly describes Mason.
So, what does “The Protester” say about OWS?
The image itself and the article that it illustrates indicate that it is a global protest of regular people, a network, a movement.
The story of Sarah Mason shows that it is a protest composed mostly of regular people who are dissatisfied. In other words, Fairey finally seems to have gotten his OWS propaganda-art close to right.
So I have been trying to find some way to show the enormous impact of music within the OWS movement. Over the course of this semester it has certainly proved to be a more difficult task than I thought. The truth is music itself has not played a large role within the movement, but it has so much to do with the little things, that make the big things possible. Let me explain.
Way back in 2000 Time Magazine featured an article by Michael D. Lemonick who wrote about “Music on the Brain”. Additionally he brought up several great points that are worthy of some thought and discussion when considering the role of the arts within the movement. Below is an excerpt from this article:
“As for music’s emotional impact, there is some indication that music can affect levels of various hormones, including cortisol (involved in arousal and stress), testosterone (aggression and arousal) and oxytocin (nurturing behavior) as well as trigger release of the natural opiates known as endorphins. Using PET scanners, Zatorre has shown that the parts of the brain involved in processing emotion seem to light up with activity when a subject hears music” (Lemonick).
This is an incredibly important discovery. Music literally has a direct effect on the brain, whether we want it to or not. Throughout the movement celebrities have written pieces expressing their take on the movement, people have written parody songs to poke fun at the movement, and people for centuries have been protesting with the help of songs and chants, all sung in unison. Music has been used in the OWS movement and in protests throughout time to, quite literally, make their voices heard. Maybe music has a little more to do with the movement than we thought.