Monthly Archives: October 2011

Survivor: Occupy Wall Street

Close your eyes and imagine for a moment. No, stop. That won’t work, you need to know more, so keep reading. Here’s the idea. A new prime time reality series based on another prime time series based on a successful European series and based on reality: Survivor Occupy Wall Street. A different show each night of each week.

Monday: Survivor Occupy Wall Street – Red State
Tuesday: Survivor Occupy Wall Street – Blue State
Wednesday: Survivor Occupy Wall Street – Toss Up State
Thursday: Survivor Occupy Wall Street – Los Angeles
Friday: Survivor Occupy Wall Street – Miami
Saturday: Survivor Wall Street – Las Vegas
Sunday: Survivor Wall Street – New York

Survivor Occupy Wall StreetBorrowed from CBS, the rules of Survivor Occupy Wall Street are simple: average Americans are abandoned in the middle of some of the most unforgiving places on earth – public parks near financial districts. Divided into teams, they participate in the daily routine of OWS – mic checks, speeches, seeking unanimity, listing grievances, protesting wealth disparity, chanting about tax fairness and student loans, protecting speech and human rights, being non-partisan, finding common ground, singing protest songs, attending rallies, making signs, marching, sitting-in, demonstrating, confronting police, blogging, tweeting, keeping the parks clean, sleeping in tents, publicly urinating, being used as backgrounds for media reports, staying out of jail, acting gratuitously toward politicians – plus, challenges given by host Jeff Probst. Every three days, the losing tribe must trek to Tribal Council to vote out one of their own. Halfway through the game, the challenges shift to individual competitions when the tribes attempt to find consensus to merge and become one. Now the game is every contestant for themselves while acting as if they are in solidarity for the people in the peaceful struggle against financial inequality.

The game is simple: Outwit, Outplay, Outlast, by winning immunity, thus not being eligible to have votes cast against yourself. However, the players must be careful about who they send packing – because after the merge, a jury of previously voted out contestants begins to form, and each week they return to watch the Tribal Council ceremony. At the end of the game, they vote for one of the members in the finals to win one million dollars and become the next Survivor to go from the 99% to the 1%!

Generally, each season begins with a twist – something different to surprise the new castaways. In our version, one team in each city is chosen by Fox News, the other by MSNBC. Survivor Occupy Wall Street is a game of struggle to reclaim power, adaptation of a coherent demands, and the final two or three of each season are the players most able to adapt to their surroundings and to the politics of the people they are playing with. Survivor focuses on the people, and the social commentary that surrounds them and their politics. The game revolves around how these players can Outwit, Outplay, and Outlast. Tonight they march to One Police Plaza.

Mic Check

Occupy Atlanta at the State CapitalSaturday was a day of occupation and solidarity in cites around the world. In Atlanta, there was a march from “Troy Davis Park,” the name used by the occupying residents of Woodruff Park, to the state capital.

Economic Refugee Camps
Occupy Atlanta is a populist movement. It is not affiliated with any political party and vows not to be hijacked either. It is, at least by intent, neither liberal or conservative. Those in the camps are, generally, young or homeless. They are symbolic refugees in the richest country in the world. They are our surrogates.

Occupy Atlanta at Troy Davis/Woodruff ParkThey represent the tens of millions of Americans who are unemployed or underemployed and cannot find work to sustain their lives. They represent the millions of homeless men and women who have lost everything in their path to the American dream. They represent all of those whose lives have been upended by the richest one percent among us who have gamed the system. They represent those who fought for our nation and returned to find there were no opportunities in the land of opportunity. They are standing in for those of us who live off peanut butter and oatmeal. Those of us who live day to to day and are just one missing paycheck from being homeless. Those of us whose homes have been repossessed or sold by bankers with fake documents. Those of us who borrowed tens of thousands or more for college tuition, only to find no work. Those of us whose homes are worth less than we paid. Those of us who put their faith in the system and were betrayed by their leaders who have been bribed by lobbyist shills of the one-percenters. Those of us who had the audacity of hope and had it crushed by compromise and a just-say-no Congress. Those of us who believed in the Republicans or the Democrats to do the right thing and were lied to. They may not look like us, but they are us. They are “we the people.” They are the 99%.

Violinist at Occupy Atlanta at Troy Davis/Woodruff ParkThe urban campers seem to be motivated by the deep sense that something is fundamentally wrong in our nation and the world. That something must to be changed. They are earnest and brave. They have given up their lives to stand in and stand up for us.

The rally to the capital was “organized” by MoveOn.org, and not without some discontent from the folks at Occupy Atlanta who expressed concern that MoveOn was attempting to subvert the Occupy movement to support President Obama.

The march and rally was a diverse crowd. Aging activists. Middleclass believers. People of all walks, skin color, origin, hair length, wardrobe choice and life experience.

Occupy Atlanta is not the sixties antiwar movement. The sixties may have been easy in comparison – one real issue, one solution. This time, the issues are complicated.

Signs at Occupy Atlanta rally at the Capital StepsI had a deep feeling that something was different while listening to those on the capital steps who walked up to the microphone or took the people’s mic, and said, “mic check.” This was the real deal. The speakers were not polished. The talking points were largely unrehearsed. Anyone could take the mic. It was messy. There was chaos – confusion, sure, but more in the definition of “the infinity of space or formless matter supposed to have preceded the existence of the ordered universe.”

The goal of the rally was not to convince, but to be heard. Some at the mic sounded eerily like the tea partiers. Some seemed awkward Obama apologists. Some had watched too many television pundits or listened to too much talk radio.

All, however, were seeking change. All were challenging each other to find solutions. Some argued that we the people can make the jobs and change America and the world. Others just told stories of hardship and overcoming since the economic collapse. The banksters and multi-national corporations were a consistent target of the anger. The bailout money was blamed as a missed opportunity. The war a terrible waste of our people and our treasure. That the wealth disparity was terribly wrong and had to be fixed. They spoke of the need for justice – social, and for those on Wall Street. But each came back to the need for jobs.

Occupy Wall Street’s goal is not to overthrow the government, but a revolution to overthrow the status quo. The movement is seeking the people’s solution from the people’s voice.

I don’t pretend to know what it takes to motivate one person to get off their couch and into the street. Perhaps, it will take a second wave of bank failures and layoffs. Or another Selma moment. Or a leader who could emerge inspired by yesterday’s dedication of the MLK memorial, realizing the civil rights movement is part of the human rights movement and so much work is left to be done. But as Chris Hedges wrote today in Truth-Out.org, it is “A Movement Too Big to Fail.”

One month old today:
Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #OWS is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future. – OccupyWallSt.org

 

 

 

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Post updated 10.18.11 9:53 am. Author’s note: It has come to my attention that I, nor my editors, could save me from my embarrassing blunder that my “playfully anthropomorphizing” [NYT] of microphone, should not be “Mike,” it should be “Mic.” The post has been updated to make sure every reader knows the potential that I have for stupid.