Recently, checking the news has felt like waking up in Groundhog Day; the same stories over and over. The same places too. It all meshes into one headline: "Banks collapse after rioters strike in Greece". I don't need fresh new perspectives every day, spanning what is always too many pages. I'd be happy with Twitter-like updates.
- Day 1: People have gathered to protest against something.
- Day 2: Still there.
- Day 3: Went home, some in a police van.
Protesting is older than witchcraft and in terms of getting results, it's worse than the Jamaican bobsled team. Millions marched on London to demonstrate how against the war they were. Outcome? Blisters. Now 500 people have gathered on the steps of St. Paul's to protest against something else. That's a catastrophically low turnout - after all, statistically speaking, it means that the entire population of the world, minus those 500, had something better to do. What was achieved? The shutting of the gift shop, crippling London's trade in religious gifts? I'm sure that wasn't their original aim.
Coming up with better ways to achieve something isn't what protestors want anyway. It's all about getting the message out, and nobody's better at that than terrorists. If you wanted all of central London to know how upset you were about something, it wouldn't take long to think of a few things you could do that'd really get the sirens blaring. Protestors need to think about the bigger picture. In the cinematic sense, they're in danger of being the poorly cut palm trees in the nativity play.
The website Kickstarter, a group arts financing site, is all a-flurry with budding filmmakers and newspaper tycoons pitching for investment to get their next projects up and running. One group wants $30,000 to make a film about the Occupy Wall Street protests, and someone else $75,000 to make a newspaper covering the events, but spun their way. But the problem with protests is that we've seen it all already, and it's no longer interesting. In a world of iPads and headphones, and TV adverts looking like feature length movies, and movies being full of adverts, we want to be visually immersed and entertained in a new world. That's what protests lack - those organising them haven't thought enough about the viewing experience. Protests don't photograph well, and that's what really counts. Fathers for Justice (whatever happened to them?) had the right idea on this count. If one thing equals column inches and picture spreads, it's the question of what the hell Batman and his trusty sidekick Robin are doing chained to our monarch's official residence?
Like any big movie, a protest needs to have good options for DVD extras and merchandise sales. For instance, what could be more stiff upper lip and British than to cheer on the exemplary work of bankers than by helping them out by holding an impromptu bake sale? I'd like to see a campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds to film that. I never will though, because everyone has better things to do.