Do You Hear The People Blog?

2 Jan
Occupy Paris: 1832 edition.

Occupy Paris: 1832 edition.

Raise your hand if you saw Les Mis. (Raise two hands if you cried.)

Alright everyone, hands down.

We all have Les Mis feelings. Deep, intense Les Mis feelings about the actors, the music, the cinematography, the haunting young children pulled from the Land of Biggest Eyes–etc. My Les Mis feelings also include being sorely tempted to be the sole defender of Russel Crowe’s Javert, but considering how many people think that he’s the worst thing that could have happened to the role, I’d rather pick another battle.

Literally.

Let’s have some background: Les Mis is set during a time when France is recovering from Napoleon’s naughtiness, with a new King Louis plunked on the throne by Europe to oversee it all. In reality, France is even worse off than it was under the previous regime, as the pampered nobility thrive while working-class folk (ie: Fantine) peddle every last bit of energy and dignity to earn bread, and a restless, dissatisfied middle class (ie: Marius’s crew) bridging the gap between them. Finally this middle class decides, “Putain de merde, enough with the country’s money sitting in the hands of les riches, such a small part of the population. We of the lower classes are the majority, why then do we not get the majority of that money?”

Sound familiar?

Thought so.

Revolution worked in 1832 France. It took down the monarchy and instated a more functional system so that we don’t have more visits from children of the Land of the Biggest Eyes. It’s not perfect by any means, since gypsies and minorities still get the shaft to this day, but the fact remains that the public still got up and did something about their traditional government. Les français have every right to be damn proud of what they’ve done.

Why the hell doesn’t it work in the United States? Rebellion, flipping the bird at authority, it’s our thing! We gave the French the idea to start revolting back when Marie Antoinette still had a head.

On the surface, it makes no sense. Occupy Wall Street and the barricade in Les Mis have the same ingredients: the rich are fat with power and gold-plated toilet seats, the poor are overworked and underfed, and the dissatisfied middle class (primarily privileged male students) are the ringleaders. Should be simple.

Unfortunately, it’s not. Marius and his crew were effective because they grabbed the public by the sideburns and made them listen, made them learn what was going on and gave them incentive to contribute to the effort.

OWS complains that they haven’t been effective because they lack coverage from major media sources, which would bring their cause into the mainstream. So they continue broadcasting their efforts through independent media on the Internet. Guess who has access to that oh-so-particular and specific brand of independent media? Who would even bother looking up what’s going on with them these days?

Yep, their audience is their own demographic, the same privileged socioeconomic class that’s spearheading the movement in the first place, who can afford to take time off from school or work to sharpie a bunch of signs claiming that they are part of the same 99% of the population that includes those who work three jobs just to make a little over $1000 a week that goes towards feeding themselves and their families.

You can see what’s wrong here. The 99% isn’t homogenous.

OWS complains that they can’t get the word out, but have they tried to actually reach out to the rest of their target audience? Do we see them in our communities? Have they gone into schools, into hospitals, into libraries and retirement homes, getting down to the level of the everyday man so that he can really understand the justice in their cause?

I’m getting silence.

That’s your answer.

That’s why revolution hasn’t worked here. And until the movement gets its head out of its own pretentious ass, it never will.

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