Saturday, October 29, 2011

What The Joker Can Tell us About Occupy Wall Street -

First, I'm the kind of person who can separate the idea from the person who said it. And even take the good ideas and leave the bad ones behind. I'm taking some ideas from a crazy, freaky character, because even he, sometimes, touched on the truth.

But I'm  NOT suggesting the Occupy Wall Street people share, in any way, the Joker's crazy freakiness. Heath Ledger, in this role, made this evil character, somehow human, somehow necessary.

I am suggesting that some of what he said can help us understand why the Occupy Wall Street folks are occupying, why many Americans support them, and why some people are freaking out over it. And why some of them are trying to portray the Occupiers as low-lifes, as lazy malcontents, and in the extreme case, as agents of the Joker's brand of craziness.

 It's about control, about planning. (And I don't for a second believe the Joker when he says he doesn't plan. You couldn't have bombs in all the right places without planning.)

Here's my take on what the Occupiers are saying,

"Whoa, the banks and other corporations and their lobbyists have planned and schemed so they now control the people who make the rules, the supposedly democratically made rules, so that the rules more and more favor the rich over everyone else. 
"The rules now legitimately take money from the middle class and the poor, and legally transfer it to the rich.

"The increasing gap between the poor and the rich isn't because the rich are deserving and the poor are lazy and unmotivated, but because the rules have been corrupted. We only have the facade of democracy. It's now time to disrupt those plans."

Of course those who have worked so hard to put the plans into place - to the point where they control five of the nine Supreme Court seats so they can validate or invalidate any law they need or need to destroy - aren't happy about disruptions. 

They don't like chaos. But the occupiers are, at least unconsciously, aware of the Joker's conclusion. Some chaos in an unfair system is the means to returning fairness. But chaos, not in the Joker's terms of destroying people and property in spectacular fashion,  but small disruptions of daily life. Blocked traffic. Some flowers trampled.  Third world sanitary conditions. Confronting business as usual.  Making people stop their normal merry-go-round lives and pay attention to what is going on. 

Support among the powerful for the Arab spring was muted. "What if the radical Muslims take over?"  they worried.  They are much less interested in fairness and human rights than predictable governments with whom they can make deals. They've never been concerned that Saudi women couldn't drive or vote as long as they got their oil deals.  And they're certain that they know what is best for everyone.  They can break laws spectacularly, but Occupiers must be held tightly to the laws.

And they are now acting as if the occupiers around the country were no different from the Joker, because underneath his freakiness, he understood what made them nervous - any challenge to their plans, any spontaneity, disruption of their normal way of doing business, and the possibility that other people might begin to question their plans.  Have you noticed the complaints about the Occupiers not having a plan?  That's what really disturbs them.  They can understand plans.  They can't understand or predict this though.

And so mayors around the country are coming up with excuses to send in the police, with batons blazing.  But people like veteran Scott Olsen who served in Iraq and had a good job and place to live are the faces of the Occupy movements.  Even though the planners want us to think that the Occupiers are more like the Joker.  [I have no illusion that there are some malcontents among the occupiers.  They always show up when something is happening.  But they aren't the face of the occupation any more than the corrupt business execs are the . . .well, hold that thought.  In today's USA I'm not so sure about the business executives.]

Read the small print from the script.  "Nobody panics when the expected people get killed.  Nobody panics when things go according to plan, even if the plan is horrifying.  If I tell the press that tomorrow a gangbanger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics.  Because it's all part of the plan.  But when I say that one little old mayor will die, everybody loses their minds!"
Do I buy into everything the Joker says?  Of course not.  I'm not really a fan of chaos, except when the controllers have way too much control.  Remember all the Republicans who complained about the chaos demonstrators created in the Soviet bloc in 1989?  Me neither.   And the Tea Party folks use the chaos of the Boston Tea Party as their mascot.  Rebellion and revolution are good or bad depending on whose side you are on.

This is serious stuff going on.  Is the US going to be like Syria or Tunisia? 

[The excerpts from The Dark Knight script come from here.  And the video clip I did from a Blockbuster copy of the Dark Knight I rented.  Thanks Warner Brothers.  I have no ads here and I promise not to sell it or make any money off of it.]

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