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Occupy L.A and the Media

Who said that protesting is clean and should be clinically sanitized?

By Jimmy Centeno
Published on LatinoLA: December 9, 2011


Occupy L.A and the Media


For Los Angeles Times reporter Gale Holland, the Occupy L.A is an "experiment in shaping a new political culture" in the state of California. Her article titled "L.A Occupies its Own Niche", published on November 22 of 2011, attempts to address the significance of the Occupy L.A movement in California's politics.

Unlike previous historical movements in the United States, the Occupy L.A movement is not "dominated by experienced organizers or activist." For reporter Holland, experimental politics in the state of California has "wrought more change then direct political action."

My question to her is: Can a spontaneous experimental action with no experienced organizers change the current political framework between the wealthiest top 1% and the 99%? Is there enough political maturity and historical knowledge to guide the Occupy L.A movement?

I find her article to be condescending and paternalistic towards the occupiers by labeling them as experimental as opposed to being serious. For many readers, the Occupy L.A movement is but a movement. They are unemployed young rebellious youth who do not want to work but sit out on the City Hall lawn, smoke pot, do yoga, hold up traffic and complain, while the rest of the ninety-nine percent get up in the morning, feed the kids and go to work.

One needs to go no further then to read the submitted commentaries at the end of each article published by the L.A Times on the Occupy L.A.movement to get a sense of the public sentiment towards the movement. Other than her thesis statement -- Occupy L.A is more of an experimental then actual political action -- she lacks a strong convincing argument that can demystify the negative media propaganda against the Occupy L.A activists.

Instead, she reinforces the stereotypes disseminated by the media. What the Occupy L.A movement wants is a not an experimental change but a radical change against the radical capital accumulating politics of the one percent.

In her article, she poses a challenging question to those who feel that the Occupy L.A movement is a mere performance rather than an actual political movement by asking: "How many know a single word of the Port Huron Statement?" In other words, radical politics are out the door and experimental is in.

She makes reference to California's wacky centric counterculture of the 60s and 70s as if all of California's social movements of the time were the same. There was nothing wacky about the Chicano movement, nor Cesar Chavez's United Farmers Workers or the Black Panther movement. They were concrete movements facing real concrete situations similar to Occupy L.A.'s, including poverty, homelessness, jobless, education, affordable housing, anti-war, corporate America's supply of false want and false needs.

Nowhere to be found in her article are the "why's" of the movement. It allows for the percolation by other less fond media gurus to further isolate Occupy L.A by mocking the protesters as dread-locked contemporary hippies with lots of time to spare sun bathing on the City Hall's lawn.

All social movements have at one point or another had small beginnings and not silly starts as she point out at the end of her article. Some of the most eloquent writings, meditations, literature, and social movement beginnings were created not during working hours per se but during moments of incarceration, long stretches of time to think and strategize outside the work hour clock. This is a key point not articulated within her article that could of have addressed the stereotyping of the occupiers.

Holland's article framework is built on a sublime mockery of the movement, it is her interpretation of her experience within the parameters of Occupy L.A. It is a mirror reaction of what most all politically correct newspaper do, stitch together truth with lies disseminating narratives that appeal more to the sentiments rather than to the intellect of the reader. It is an article written "to absorb the jolts of novelty, numbing us to events that might perhaps otherwise overwhelm us", as once said by writer Walter Benjamin.

Is there any political maturity or historical awareness to guide the occupy movements to restructure an economic system that goes through cyclical recession, allowing a small percent to capitalize on the misery of the 99% percent, hence third world conditions in first world countries?

Writer Gale Holland gives us no clue to such questions other than to entertain the occupation as a circus tour. She ends by saying that despite her challenges to once-upon radical politics, to pessimists and doubters of the occupy movement, that Occupy L.A is no Eden, and that the tents are starting to smell.

It is foul play for a cause that is more about uncomfortable smells, dead grass, yoga classes, techno music, glowing sticks, hula hoops, scruffy kids, and tattered tents. Who said that protesting is clean and should be clinically sanitized?





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