Occupy's Problem: It's Too Serious, or Something

I'm being super serial, you guys!
March 27, 2013

I approvingly cited Douglas Rushkoff's new book Present Shock in yesterday's post on the breakdown of narrative in the modern sitcom. Today, I would like to disapprovingly cite Rushkoff for the silly seriousness with which he treats Occupy Wall Street and its related rabblerousings.

Rushkoff is not a fan of the Tea Party, which he sees as perfectly suited to the era of soundbites and cable news and general stupidity. The Occupiers, however, were a font of wisdom in these troubled times. "The impatient rush to judgment of the Tea Party movement is only as unnerving as the perpetually patient deliberation of its counterpart present shock movement, Occupy Wall Street," Rushkoff writes.

"Unlike a traditional protest, which identifies the enemy and fights for a particular solution, Occupy Wall Street just sits there talking with itself, debating its own worth, recognizing its internal inconsistencies, and then continuing on as if this were some sort of new normal," Rushkoff nods. Too bad the lamestream media just can't grasp what these super serial folks are up to: "But for journalists or politicians to pretend they have no idea what the movement wants is disingenuous and really just another form of present shock."

Just so we're clear, the Occupiers sat around in their hobo camps and talked about their movement's "worth" and their feelings and such, yet journalists should be mocked for "pretending" that they have no idea what the Occupiers actually wanted to achieve as they dithered and dallied in their rat-infested, presidential-assassin-wannabe-hosting rape camps.

Seems legit.

My favorite quote from Rushkoff on the Occupy Wall Street Movement has to be this one, however: "But it is also a painstakingly slow, almost interminably boring process, in which the problem of how to deal with noise from bongo drummers ends up getting equal time with how to address student debt."

Being equally interested in addressing a legitimate goal and addressing how to handle a-holes causing a racket is not the sign of a serious movement. Rather, it is the sign of a masturbatory movement, one more interested in its own wankings and bleatings than accomplishments. Now, Rushkoff might argue that that's the point, that in our post-narrative society bourgeois concerns like "goals" or "accomplishments" mean little. I would argue that when you have a gathering of people who like to sit around and talk and accomplish nothing and rank their grievances, you no longer have a "movement." You have an open mic night or a college teach-in or a Brooklyn co-op meeting.

None of these things are gonna change the world. And neither will the Occupiers.