The Big Question: What is Occupy Wall Street?

I must say, this has been one of THE most daunting questions I have ever had to answer in one sitting. Where do you begin? The movement itself is such a huge and multi-faceted rebellion that has taken place in so many places throughout such a large span of time.

I believe the best way to attempt to answer this question is to take a closer look in smaller chunks. I alone will not be able to completely answer this question. But I do believe that, when the rest of our class has all answered this question in a similar fashion our readers will be able to put these puzzle pieces together to form a picture they can recognize. Here is my piece of the puzzle:

Arts Within the Movement: Music

The Occupy Wall Street Movement has been an amazing time. A time for coming out into the open and making the silent voices heard. The movement may have been sparked by the email of two people organizing to occupy wall street. But the role of music within this movement is of vital importance, in more ways than one.

The art of song has been used throughout time for many different reasons. Within the Occupy Wall Street Movement, celebrities have written songs, making their views on the 99% known. Their intentions, of course remain unknown. Do they really feel strongly about supporting these people’s causes or are they simply seeking for a stage for which to eat up some attention. Normal people have been writing songs too. This offers another way for the 99% to make their voices heard: through music. Music offers yet another language and dimension for their word to be spread. and yet still many people have written parodies of OWS to other famous songs. Perhaps this is simply a way to make fun of two things at once, but it too is a clever way to spread the ideas of the OWS movement. The social media cannot be overlooked.

In Jaqustell’s blog entry titled The Effectiveness in Poetry in Occupy Wall Street she talks about a branch of social media very similar to that of music: poetry. Poetry is essentially music through the spoken human voice. In this particular post Jaqustell talks about how poetry was a popular thing in the beginnings of the social movement because it promoted more members to join. She also wrote “The ambiguous nature of poetry itself lends the interpretation of the message to be diverse across audience members”. I found that this fit perfectly with music; what language is more universal than music itself? We have seen that throughout this entire movement music has been used to gain more members and to allow a very diverse population a specific way for them to be able to relate to and connect with the movement itself. Music, just like poetry, is a social medium that has the ability to put everyone under one umbrella.

One of the most essential ways that music has been used in OWS is through  chant. Protesters have used chants for years.  This is a musical way for which a group of people can instantly become organized and more powerful; a single imminent and uniform mass rather than a scattered mess. Another post that particularly stood out to me on this blog was a post by meechiepeachie. This post discussed the General Assembly that the movement had organized in order to stay organized. OWS is especially unique in terms of protests because they refuse to have one single leader. Therefore, this group formulated this “general assembly” as a way to ensure their equality and uniformity. As shown in the video on this post, one leader takes a turn each time to speak whatever needs to be spoken at a specific time. And whatever the temporary leader says everyone else chants back in return. This is a musical way that those involved in OWS have been using to keep themselves uniform and organized, without the need for a leader. These chants symbolize the equality sought after by these protesters.

Music has a huge effect not only on the brain of the individual but on entire groups simultaneously. Music may not be featured as a subtitle on the title of a book about the OWS Movement, but it certainly deserves a good deal of consideration and discussion. Music has been found in many more aspects of this movement than I originally thought, to be honest. Perhaps other aspects of this protest have been overlooked as well. I can’t wait to see what the other puzzle pieces our other authors come up with to help answer the question fully: What is Occupy Wall Street?

Occupy Wall Street is a social movement like none other. Music has organized, music has allowed a spotlight to anyone and everyone, music has made those involved in the movement equal, has made them one. These and more are the roles music has played within the OWS movement. For me, this is Occupy Wall Street. This is my puzzle piece I give to you. I hope it finds a fitting place among these other pieces the other authors of this blog have to offer. This is Occupy Wall Street.

Sarah Chaney 


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