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Saturday, March 18, 2017

1-21-17 Women's March on Washington




























The architecture of the event relied heavily on spectacle. People dressed up. They dressed down. People held signs that drew inspiration running the gamut of meme to Constitutional truism. A human fence of police protected a bubble of Westboro-types.

Jumbotrons punctuated the Independence Avenue portion of the route at semi-regular intervals. They projected the image of the rally speakers on their stage. The talking heads were turned to face those walking toward the center of a very large megaphone. At once compelling additions on my walk inward to the rally, they became 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 Twitter that it was cancelled, that it was to be only a rally, that the rally had been extended. What followed was close-quartered frustration followed by total stasis.

When the crowd finally reversed direction and shuffling away from the center stage, 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 her 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 position if it is of any power. But the inclusion of brands like Madonna and Scarlet Johansson palpably sublimated what had once been a unifying rage within the crowd, into something like a festival. I wasn't feeling super festive.

I worry a lot about having fun. I stood in line with friends at the food truck cluster-fuck in the middle of waste-bin seas teeming luxuriously with many patriotic 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. Feeding ourselves. The food truck owners, about paying their bills maybe with the money they make from the mark up. I walked in-line with friends and we wondered if this kind of screaming that we eventually partook in, was not falsely cathartic. 


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