Protesters outside “Deep Throat” on Seventh Avenue, NYC
The history of American film is also a history of protest. As long as movies have been made there have been controversial titles that have caused certain groups to voice their disapproval in the form of picketing and boycotts.
Collected here are several examples of protests outside of American movie theaters. The protesters span the political spectrum, from left to right.
Arguably, art isn’t art unless its pissing someone off.
We assume she’s protesting Monty Python’s “Life Of Brian,” though “Skatetown USA” was also fairly blasphemous.
Austerity, repression, police brutality and skyrocketing unemployment—young people the world over have so much to fight for, but it’s the protesters of Bolivia who have stolen my heart. A few days ago an estimated 2000 Bolivians—most of them appearing to be under 30—took to the streets in a multi city defense of The Simpsons. No, the show was not canceled, nor was it censored—but the timeslot was changed, and the people were not having it. Perhaps even weirder than the mobilization itself is its success—a few hours of marching in the rain and not only did the network reverse the scheduling change, they bumped up the airtime from 45 minutes to two full daily hours of Springfield’s favorite family!
If it seems like a shallow crusade, it’s worth noting there may be more to this action than meets the eye. Latin Times ran this story under the decidedly bitter old man headline of “Don’t They Have Jobs?”—but likely, they do, as the Bolivian youth unemployment rate is less than half the youth employment rate of the US. The network that made the scheduling change however, Unitel Bolivia, is recognized as right-wing, so it’s possible “The Simpsons” are a sort of semiotic stand-in for other values. Either way, always nice to see civically engaged young people winning their battles, right? Viva Bolivia! And viva Bart!
If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check out the hashtag #pornprotest on Twitter, it’s the best thing on the Internet right now. It seems that Parliament has recently been messing with what you can and can’t do in adult videos, and right-thinking individuals on the scepter’d isle came out in numbers today to protest the legislation.
In Portugal the refuse collectors are on strike, so people are leaving their garbage outside the banks.
According to Euro News, the garbage has been “piling up on some of the streets of the Portuguese capital Lisbon – where refuse collectors have been on strike for three days over plans to privatise the sector.”
Unions representing the refuse collectors estimate 85% of the workers support the strike, which is due to end on 5th January.
When a friend told me there were more shots of the still nameless “Tank Man” who stood in front of a phalanx of oncoming weaponry in China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, I figured I would find a few photos from different angles. I did not expect a widescreen tableau that completely recontextualized the scale of the protests (and the man’s bravery, seeing that he was but armed with two plastic shopping bags).
From this distance, you see past the four tanks in the original iconic photo, to a chillingly expansive mass of tanks and soldiers. The scale of the picture changes the story somewhat, don’t you think? (You can see a larger version here.)
I actually found this shot on the website of the right wing think tank, The Heritage Foundation! I suppose students risking (and often losing) their lives to protest an oppressive Chinese government can be easily co-opted for red scare fodder. Regardless, it’s not every day that I actually learn something new from the right wing!
A closer street-level view of the David and Goliath confrontation—shot just before the tanks reached “Tank Man” and stopped their engines—was published by photographer Terrell Jones in 2009. Look for “Tank Man” behind the guy running.
Nikolai Alekseev, a Russian gay rights activist arrested during a 2010 Moscow protest (picture above) has been convicted of spreading “gay propaganda” by a court in St Petersburg, making him the first to be convicted under the city’s new anti-homosexuality laws. From Pink News:
Mr Alekseev was said to have been fined 5,000 roubles, just over £100, by a court in Russia’s second city for the promotion of homosexuality among minors, AP reports.
The law was approved in February; this is the first time a citizen has been successfully prosecuted under it.
Mr Alekseev had held up a sign reading “Homosexuality is not a perversion” outside the Smolny Institute in April in public view.
A former journalist, Mr Alekseev turned his attention to full-time gay rights campaigning in 2005, setting up the gay rights advocacy group GayRussia.ru.
He has appeared regularly on Russian television and has been honoured for his work by LGBT organisations worldwide.
He has been arrested on numerous occasions for holding illegal Pride marches and gay rights demonstrations and launched lawsuits against Moscow authorities for banning the events and had announced his intention to retire last year.
So I’ve been trying to sum up how I feel about Occupy Wall Street and the media coverage (or non-coverage) of the demonstrations the last few days, when I found this clip and realised that one of the most brilliant poets of the last hundred years had already summed it up perfectly. Of course.
I was gonna say that the oldstream media has been over for me since 2000, when I saw some peaceful protests badly misreported on TV and in the papers. I wanted to mention how my obsession with this summer’s “Murdochgate” sprang from a desire to see the established news channels I detest so much crumble, to lose all respect with their audience through their refusal to cover a story with such huge significance. I’ve been struggling to express how we don’t need validation through a mainstream that has always ignored us or deliberately misrepresented us, that people shouldn’t worry too much, the message is getting out there loud and clear.
But fuck it. Gil Scott Heron beat me to the punch (hard) thirty years ago.
This incredible recording of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (as a spoken monologue with no music and some ad libs) is from 1982. It was performed at the Black Wax Club in Washington DC, as part of a documentary film on Scott Heron called Black Wax. His voice is a thing of rich, easy-going beauty but his words are like dynamite. Yeah, the times and technology may have changed, but this is still so prescient and just so damn relevant it’s amazing.
Gil Scott Heron died only four short months ago, and it’s a real pity he can’t be around now to see the people of his home town out on their streets and taking direct action, how he can’t be there himself to rally the crowds with this incredible monologue and share his no doubt sharp-as-a-pin insights into politics and society. It’s true - sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. But we DO still have this recording, and I hope that everyone, including all the people involved with the protests in New York, gets to hear it.
You see, a lot of time people see battles and skirmishes on TV and they say
“aha the revolution is being televised”. Nah.
The results of the revolution are being televised.
The first revolution is when you change your mind about how you look at things, and see there might be another way to look at it that you have not been shown.
What you see later on is the results of that, but that revolution, that change that takes place will not be televised.
After the jump “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (Black Wax monologue) transcribed, plus footage from the fantastic Gil Scott Heron “Black Wax” documentary/live film.
As bewildered analysts on the sidelines wring their hands over “what’s next in Egypt,”Al Jazeera continues to very simply shame the American news media with regards reporting on the region’s issues.
Jane Dutton, the host of the network’s “Inside Story” show, does what we used to call actual insightful reporting by bringing into AJ’s Cairo studio Egyptian activists Gigi Ibrahim, Amr Wakd and Wael Khalil and, remotely, Tunisian graduate student activist Fidi Al Hammami. And while these kids may represent a somewhat elite and educated part of the thousands on the streets, Al Jazeera goes a long way here beyond the usual news formula of interviewing either excited guys in the middle of a protest yelling at the camera or annoyingly hedging news “contributors.”
At around the 18-minute mark, Khalil makes the crucial remark that puts the American punditry’s narcissistic agonizing into perspective: “We don’t need the US.” In short, Uncle Sam, the EU and the international community are rather irrelevant to this struggle. The paradigm’s changed, and the old powers need to get over themselves.