I’ve been thinking a lot about this because of something a friend of mine said a few years ago during the Occupy Wall Street protests.
My friend said something along the lines of this:
“Historically, cultures that have a very small group of wealthy people controlling the lives of a very large group of poor people only experience true change when there’s a revolution and the rich people get murdered and their heads are put on spikes and stuff.”
My friend is very knowledgable. Even drunk at 3 am in the morning, he can rattle off facts about the French revolution, quotes from James Joyce’s Ulysses, and the names of character actors from obscure episodes of 1960s era Doctor Who that only exist in audio format.
He not only retains facts, he can also apply them to the world around him. For example, he could probably tell you which classic Doctor Who script editor produced the most Joycean episodes of the show. Would it be Terrance Dicks or Robert Holmes? Who knows? My friend, probably.
The point is his observation that class warfare has historically been an actual WAR startled me, but it also made a lot of sense.
I believe America has a serious economic imbalance. A small percent of the population controls the money. The money influences the politics. We’re fighting for things like a livable minimum wage and stopping giant corporations from destroying equal access to the internet. There is still a possibility that Comcast and Time Warner Cable–two of consumers’ most despised companies–will be allowed to merge into one big monster like some awful SyFy movie come to life.
A lot of us would just dump the horrible MegaSharkBadger that is Comcast/Time Warner Cable if we could, but we don’t have a lot of options.
Besides, those companies deliver us the parts of our culture we enjoy–our access to communication and entertainment. They are the gatekeepers to all our cat pictures, tumblr accounts about shipping Harry and Hermione, and phone service to call our cable providers and make futile complaints about the horrible service.
We’re used to not being able to make a dent in the control of giant rich corporations. As a result, I think we’ve become surprisingly docile. Our recent attempts at protests have been met with, to me, a shocking amount of resistance.
Recently, there was a calm, non-violent act of civil disobedience at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota to protest multiple questionable killings of citizens by police officers. Instead of just allowing the protest to happen, the Mall of America decided to double down on every negative stereotype about both malls and America by reacting with riot gear and Orwellian messages on their big screen.
I shared one of the protesters’ photos in this tweet.
An actual photo from from the protest at Mall of America, not footage of a crappy holiday themed sequel to 1984. pic.twitter.com/cR5j9QDKvk
— Joseph Scrimshaw (@JosephScrimshaw) December 20, 2014
A ton of people, some calm and some seething with outrage, tweeted back to inform me that the Mall of America was PRIVATE PROPERTY and thus the protest was illegal.
I’m aware the Mall of America is private property. I’m also aware that sometimes protests need to be held in a space where they will be disruptive in order for the status quo to be challenged. I think the need to discuss unchecked police brutality is more important than a shopper’s mild inconvenience on their way to The Gap.
Regardless of the politics of this particular protest, I was shocked that so many people took a MALL’S SIDE over humans. We’ve become so pacified–so enamored with business as usual–that the rights of an Orange Julius are more sacrosanct than a protest about people’s rights.
Modern day America is a far cry from France in 1789. If peacefully demonstrating in a mall is considered this shocking, then obviously there isn’t going to be a violent uprising.
So why would the small group of people who hold all the financial power fear the people?
We’re not going to rise up and attack. We’re not going to rush the offices of Wal-Mart executives, the predatory lenders that almost destroyed our entire economy, the MegaSharkBadgers at Comcast, etc.
And I’m happy for that. I don’t want violence. I don’t want to see a head on a pike outside of an episode of Game of Thrones and even then it’s a bummer.
But I do want change.
So here is my horrible idea for the problem of the rich, powerful, and greedy:
What if we threatened to punch them, just once, in the crotch?
I know it sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. Right now, America loves the status quo. We will not see a comedy movie unless there is a crotch shot in the trailer. That is the status quo. We also love stories about tough, leathery old men who play by their own rules. That is the status quo.
Let’s embrace the status quo. Let’s get Liam Neeson to act out a real life socio-political action thriller called CROTCH THREAT.
Here’s the trailer:
Liam Neeson walks slowly toward the camera.
The voiceover kicks in.
“They have taken our money. They have taken our respect. They got us addicted to high fructose corn syrup and we can’t even pay the medical bills. Enough is enough. Now, one man, with a special set of skills (mostly crotch punching) is going to take it all back.”
Liam Neeson talks heatedly into a phone:
“Release just a little bit of control, spread the wealth, get out of the political system, or I will look for you, I will find you, and I will punch your crotches.”
Then there’s a fast-cut montage of crotch punching and a lot of the BWAHHHHHM noise from Inception as the voiceover concludes:
“We really only want to do this once, but if we have to, there will be a sequel. And like all sequels, it will be a little bit worse.”
Liam Neeson walks away from a massive explosion, the shrapnel flies across the screen and hits Donald Trump in the crotch.
BAM. THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED.
The rating would be S for Stupid. It’s a stupid idea. I know that.
But if this idea were an actual movie, people would probably go see it because we love stories about fighting the status quo almost as much as we have become resistant to fighting the status quo in real life.
I’m a comedian so I react to my frustration by trying to express it in the language of comedy like proposing something called CROTCH THREAT. A lot of people are taking real action. There are protests. There are petitions. There is knowledgable and intelligent activism on many different issues.
And there are angry, ridiculous blog posts like this. There are snarky tweets. There are facebook diatribes. There are politically loaded pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch on instagram. I don’t think those things are “slacktivism.” I think they are using our amazing tools of instant communication to give legitimate voice to people’s thoughts and opinions. We have France in 1789 beat there.
Every once in a while, someone’s politically loaded cat picture on the internet is going to break through the noise and get someone else to think about the status quo, what changes they would like to see, and what non-violent actions they can take to make a difference.
This blog is one tiny ridiculous metaphorical punch to the crotch of injustice.
That’s as violent as I’m willing to get, but it’s a swing I’m happy to take.
If you enjoy my work, you can check out all the comedy words and things I’m making via Patreon.