The architecture of the event relied heavily, perhaps necessarily, on spectacle. People dressed up. They dressed down. People held signs that drew inspiration running the gamut of meme to Constitutional truism, and a stronghold of Westboro-types stood protected by a human fence of police. Jumbotrons punctuated the Independence Avenue portion of the route at semi-regular intervals, facing those walking toward. They were at once compelling additions during my walk inward to the rally, though they became quick gimmicks that physically and mentally impeded the mobilization of the march. The rally droned into an area of lost attention. The people wanted movement. Rumors circulated via tweet that it was cancelled, that the rally had been extended. What followed was close-quartered frustration, what followed was stasis.
When the crowd finally reversed their direction and began shuffling out, Madonna performed. Of all things. Many became occupied by her presence, forgetting their own, and bubbling around the jumbotrons in ways that choked the traffic flow. The public conversation was diverted to celebrity.
Maybe a celebrity buoy was necessary–and we need to facilitate discussions about how all persons, pop nobility and plebeian alike, can leverage their quotidian power. However, the inclusion of brands like Madonna and Scarlet Johansson palpably sublimated what had once been a unifying rage within the crowd, into something like the mostly pleasant spectacle-oriented camaraderie one feels at an overgrown, corporate-sponsored music festival.
I worry a lot about this kind derailment. I stood in line with friends at the food truck cluster-fuck in the midst of waste-bins that teemed luxuriously with many iterations of take-out boxes. I noticed that the usual food truck prices had been taped over and marked up for the day, so I stood in line and wondered about where, precisely, our priorities currently lay. I walked in-line with friends and we wondered if this action was not falsely cathartic. I walked in-line with friends and we did scream, and loudly.