« Arbus: A Photography Legend | Main | Natalie Dylan, what is the price to pay? »

No Caption needed

World leaders, including our very own Obama met in London to try and work together to solve our global economic crisis. They were not alone, but joined by thousands of protesters trying to demonstrate their opinions, and concerns. There were as many as 35,000 anarchists, anti-capitalists, anti-war, and pro-environmentalist protesters in London, that showed up for these meetings.

After looking through the photographs at the event, it seemed to be a type of circus. People were dressed in costumes of all sorts. Some of these included the Joker from “Batman,” a Storm Trooper from “Star Wars,” Jesus in a police helmet, a nightmare version of Mickey Mouse, a horse with a flower in his nose, a gorilla in a bathing suit, there was even protestors carrying a effigy of a giant dead canary. I seem to wonder if all of the costumes ended up undermining the seriousness of the topics they are protesting about. From the surface, when I look at the pictures all I see is a sort of angry Halloween in the spring. Is it possible that by going to such great lengths to catch the attention of the global press, the world then became distracted from the real issues.

The variety of costumes and outfits played out well for the cameras, the people protesting, failed to send out one main coherent message to the world. Everyone had a different concern about what was being done in this modern world. A man named Harry explained that he was dressed as Death to represent “the death of the economy” and “the death of the English pound.” He was also concerned with the micro-economic problem that he was in danger of losing the deposit he’d left on the grim reaper costume he’d rented, since the police had confiscated the mask that went with it, arguing that people with covered faces were trouble. He was side by side with people carrying a large dead canary. One of the people carrying the canary that he had brought the huge bird effigy to the demonstration “to symbolize the death of Canary Wharf,” a former dockyard area that was redeveloped to become a center of London’s financial industry, and also the death of “the current financial system.”

The large crowd of protesters were not left to roam freely in the streets, but were met by a crowd of the 5,000 police that were deployed for the event, that were armed and ready for battle. Using the photographs as evidence, we know that the clash between the protestors and the police resulted in scenes of dramatic bloody violence. A modern successful protest is an even that requires coroperation between the protestors and the police. Violence only happens when people no longer decide to cooperate. The people decided not to work together with the police, but that’s what got the world’s attention. I also find myself wondering, is this what people are resorting to, in order to get their opinion heard? Shouldn’t the common person’s opinion matter just as much as our world leaders?

As we can see, no longer are people just able to express their opinion. Well, they can, but it’s very unlikely that anyone will hear what they have to say. Now people have to show what they mean through their actions. Costumes and bloody violence may be going to the extreme, but that appears to be what is now necessary. After all, it worked. I am sitting here talking not about the decisions made in the G-20 meetings, but what the protesters did. So their efforts may have been extreme, but it captured the attention of the media, and was brought throughout the world. I am now listening to what all the protestors have to say, and what they want done.

Comments


I believe that there's something in the Constitution that goes along the lines of, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Quite possibly one of the single most important phrases in the entirety of human history. The right to freedom of expression, regardless of what others think. While I am no law professor, I believe the only law that the protestors were breaking was fashion. The protestors did not mean to cause harm, so why were they met with such force? Personally, from what I have heard, the protestors did seem to accomplish anything but demonstrating that there is strength in numbers, Yet I would not stop them. Now, from the article, I do not think the crowd was violent to start. They can speak as they please, do as they please, and protest for what theythink is best so long as they respects the rights of others.

I will end with one of my favorite quotes. "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

~Voltaire

I have to disagree with you that the costumes and caricatures took away from the points and concerns that the protestors had to make. Such tactics have been used from the beginning of protest, and it is evident that some of the protestors with flashy costumes were approached and questioned by the press. If anything the costumes acted as a tool to bring attention to the event and the ideals believed in by the protestors.
I can agree with you that some of the pictures seem to have a violent and angry theme, but there are also many pictures of peaceful protestors sitting and standing around casually taking pictures. I think the contrast between the pictures shows a lot, in that there is definitely a difference between the way people express their opinions. There is evidence to show that some of the protestors were causing destruction to properties, which obviously incited action of the police. I think it is often some of the protestors who incite the violence at these types of events.
I believe the common person has a place in politics, but I have to disagree with you when you say that it should matter as much as our world leaders. I do not always agree with what our leaders do, but we are given a chance to influence what happens in our lives through the opportunity to vote for our leaders. The common person often has his or her own interests in mind, rather than that of the represented nation.

I think that it’s pathetic that the only way that people can get attention these days is dressing in ridiculous costumes and having bloody encounters with the cops. The fact that this occurred outside the meeting place of our president and other world leaders, based on the issue of the world’s economic problem, bothers me. It seems that the only way people can get any attention is to do wild crazy things like this to get other people to listen to their opinion and concerns about the economy. As you said there should be a better way of getting people to listen instead of going to such unreasonable extremes. Also as you commented on this way is clearly working because you and I have both taken the time to read about the incident and comment on it as well as then hearing their concern on the economy. I truly hope that a different way can be achieved, a much more civilized way, because people are acting like animals not human beings. Of course the media jumps all over this kind of thing which also as you said take away from the issue at hand (the leaders meeting to discuss the global economy) and makes people look at the wild fights in the street but brings us back to the subject when we hear those views. Why can’t people be interested in the main issue instead we have to have garbage in the way to intrigue us and find out the real issue and that I think makes no sense. This picture is illustrating a much more complicated issue then just civilians fighting cops and has more meaning then that as well, but the point is it sells and peaks the public’s interest in looking at it.

A part of your insight that I disagreed with was when you said that the costumes took the point and concerns away that the protestors had to make. For the people that were dressed in flashy costumes that were out of ordinary that was a way for the press and citizens to come up to them and ask them questions. As for the man dressed in the Grim Reaper costume, he brought up a very good point and did what he was trying to do and go for from the beginning; to show that our economy is dead. Every person that was dressed in a costume from god wearing a police helmet to the joker from Batman; all of them had to of had a good explanation and reason why they were dressed up in such way for the event. So I disagreed with this part because to me the costumes show meaning and concerns they had to express.
At the end of your paper though, I do agree with you on how citizens now to get listeners and people to believe on what they say; people have to go through violence and costumes/acts to do it. Everyone is televised and eye catched by violence and danger all around the world and once they see violence and fighting’s on the news, all their attention is caught on their televisions. I really liked the line “it captured the attention of the media, and was brought throughout the world”. This is a correct statement and fact to make because now, after the fight; a lot of people are more interested and more eager to get involved with either side the police or the protestors.

I agree with a lot of your points here. In many situations, extravagant costumes can take away from the intended message. If they're too shocking or gruesome, they can even drive away people who support the protesters' ideas but want to state their concerns more tactfully. For example, even though a storm trooper in a pink suit is entertaining and touches on the subject of imperialism and fascism (storm troopers being a military arm of the oppressive Empire from Star Wars), it doesn't fully demonstrate any political issues. It mocks police and may encourage some disdain for government and law enforcement, but what does it do to incite change? The point of protesting isn't to express anger or make others look bad per se. Those are part of it, but the central reason that people protest is to push others around them to agree with their view and work to change something. And, while one could blame the photographer for not putting the pink storm trooper in the larger context, it's natural for a viewer to single out the strange aspects of an event, and the more important meaning could be easily left by the wayside.

Still, as you pointed out, outlandish displays are sometimes the only way to attract attention. But that seems to be the nature of a society as large as ours. There were literally thousands of people protesting at that site alone. So someone in jeans and a t-shirt, even if that t-shirt had simple and foolproof instructions telling us how to bring about world peace, is all too easy to ignore or simply not notice.

To be effective, protesters need to strike a balance between visible and respectable, not alienating their viewers with off-putting displays or being so bland that they blend into the background.