Ed Driscoll

The Medium is the Lack of Message

One of Ace’s guest-bloggers spots the AP turning the incoherency of the Occupy Wall Street gang into a feature:

But the real point that [AP’s Colleen Long] is trying to get across here is not the rank hypocrisy or the rank stupidity or even the rank odor of these attention-whores. It’s the power of their message.

But he [Jesse (Starchild Rainbow Moonbeam Nike) Wilson] couldn’t say what, exactly, he wanted to happen. Handmade signs carried by some of the demonstrators — “Less is More” and “Capitalism is evil” — hardly make it clearer.

See? Can you see the power of the message now??!?!

What? You are not quite getting it yet, you silly wingnut?

Okay, let’s let Colleen spell it out for you:

Enter “Bill Dobbs, an activist involved in the 2004 demonstrations at the Republican National Convention, and many others.”

Dobbs and others say the group’s lack of specificity serves a purpose because it invites outrage over a full spectrum of societal grievances. Indeed, some demonstrators say they are against Wall Street greed, others say they are protesting global warming and still others say they are protesting “the man.”

See, stupid? It’s the lack of a message that is the message! You can get angry and outraged about anything at all and we are going to be right here by your side. It’s like the Obama Guide to Protesting! As long as we’re vague enough, we can be anything you want us to be!

What a new and exciting concept!!!

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As James Lileks once wrote in reply: Whaddya got? Well…

It made me think…of  the perpetual adolescent strain in post-WW2 culture. Before the 50s, when there were actual problems like an interminable Depression and Nazis, adolescents were mostly unseen in the culture. You had kids, and you had grown-ups. Adolescents were young grownups, expected to adhere to the same general rules of behavior. It was an adult culture, and adolescents were the interns. The culture would tolerate some things like Bobby Soxers, but with wry eye-rolling amusement. After the war, though, the adolescent was not only the focus of the culture’s attention, he was taken seriously. He was an inarticulate oracle, a mumbling sage, a jeering jester with a switchblade. One of the dumbest lines in cinema is one of the most famous: asked what he’s rebelling against, Marlin Brando’s character in the “The Wild Ones” says “Whaddya got?”

Oh, I don’t know. The Pure Food Act, antibiotics, an industrial infrastructure that makes it possible for you to ride your bikes around, paved roads, a foreseeable successful conclusion to rural electrification, sewers, the ability to walk into any small café and order a Coke and know you won’t be squitting your guts out 12 hours later into a hole in the ground alive with squishy invertebrates. Little things. No wonder they fretted over the Juvenile Delinquents – they’d known not hard times nor war, and they acted as if they’d been born into the sixth circle of Hell. If pressed, JDs would respond – with their trademark mommie-took-my-rattle petulance that they were against the whole phony world, man, because there’s nothing the adolescent finds more contemptible than hypocrisy. Somehow they find the fact that their Old Man lied about Santa Claus – lied, man, stood there and lied with a big old smile on his big old face, dig it – is a piercing insight to the machinations of adulthood. Please don’t tell me they were alienated by the threat of nuclear war. So was my generation. We reacted with Disco and “Supertrain.”

Fortunately though, as the Professor writes, a Sicilian — via his German-Irish emissary — explains what’s going on, though I doubt the AP will pay much attention.

This cartoon also helps to explain what’s going on, as well: